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The Secret Weekend

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

I am a lucky so-and-so.  Not only do I have amazing friends but they buy me super amazing presents. I was thoroughly spoiled on my birthday last week but the fun didn't stop there! Char booked me in several months ago for a post-birthday mystery secret trip and Friday morning saw us zooming down the motorway on our way to destination unknown.  I was very, very good and hadn't asked many questions at all (other than the obvious how long are we going for/what sort of clothes do I need to pack/are we running a marathon or doing anything that requires unusual supplies - I'm a stressy packer!) so it was a delicious surprise to find out that we were going to Bath!

And not just going to Bath, but going to Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights for the Reading Spa! I have been lusting after this for a long, long time but Bath is very far away from Liverpool and it's just a bit too indulgent to take myself there.  If someone else wishes to take me there though, that's a totally different matter!

Oh my gosh, I had the best time ever.  It's the most fabulous place:

I was plied with coffee and flapjack whilst I had a good chinwag with Libby about my taste in books, then she came back a short while later with this amazing selection. Books, books, books!  It was an excellent sign that I'd already read several of her picks. I had the hardest time choosing between the rest of them though.  It was such a treat to have books recommended to me by someone who was so passionate and interesting when she was talking about them. I almost felt a bit bad leaving some of them behind.

It took me an absolute age to whittle the selection down to this pile.  I've already devoured The House by the Thames and if it sets the tone for the rest of them, I'm in for a very good time! It was utterly fascinating.  I think I might do a review post when I've read them all...

The Attenbury Emeralds wasn't part of the selection but the spa included a fully stamped loyalty card which gave £5 off your next purchase, so I promptly went back the next day and bought that as well!

We squeezed in a trip on the Friday evening to the Little Theatre Cinema (about a million times better than the soulless Odeon) to see The Place Beyond the Pines.  It wasn't at all what I expected in terms of structure and tone but I definitely liked it.  Even if I am that weird creature who doesn't get the appeal of either Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper.

Saturday was a day of walking round in the rain exploring the city and doing cultural things. We went to the Assembly Rooms, where Char got mistaken for a wedding guest as she was so beautifully frocked up.

And then to the adjoining Fashion Museum (well worth a visit) where I discovered that:

It's quite hard to take pictures of gorgeous frocks when they're behind stupid reflective display cases.

I really want to wear a sack back dress. Alas I was born 200 years too late and several social classes too low.

My favourite dress from their evening dress collection was a pink one. I know. I'm as surprised as you are.

And that I definitely want to bring bonnets back into fashion. They're the only hats that I actually suit!

I didn't quite do the true blogger thing of recording everything I ate because sometimes I feel like a weirdo pulling out an SLR to take a photo of my dinner.  A camera phone snap is obviously more subtle but my phone is old and the camera is lame, so it makes life difficult.  I braved the shame to take these though:

A scrumptious brunch of cinnamon soya hot chocolate and a sausage sandwich at Cafe Retro

And a bun at Sally Lunns.  Because you can't go to Bath without eating a Sally Lunn bun.  It's the law. Plus they have sugar lumps. Yayyyyy! I really like sugar lumps.

Despite the rain, I had a glorious time. It's been ages since I was last in Bath and it's such a perfect place for a weekend jaunt.  Plus I still have the warm fuzzy feelings after the Reading Spa.  All the books!  It was a truly excellent birthday present and Char is a super duper pal.

I shall leave you with this:



  1. Eep. I am so glad you enjoyed The Secret Weekend! :D
    (and that you took some photos because I totally failed).

  2. This looks like my absolute dream weekend, I'm desperate to go to the Reading Spa!

    Mollie xo

  3. I love going to Bath, I'm glad you had a good time. The Thirteenth Tale is a cracking good book, I shall look forward to seeing what you think of it.

  4. A Book spa sounds amazing, I think I may need to nudge my nearest and dearest about this.. I remember those buns, they're amazing!x

  5. Eek I was there on Friday too! Used to live by the Royal Crescent, actually just off the Circus. If I'd seen you, I would sooooooo have said hello. How funny!
    I drove the kids there as had been in Bristol and my mum and sis were in Wagamama in Bath so legged it there for a couple of hours. I miss it soooooo much. There is a high pavement in front of you if you walk away from the Circus and towards the fashion museum....that's where I used to live. Hop over to my blog as mentioned it with pics last night and you can see what I mean.
    Hope you had a lovely time.

  6. This is just bloody amazing, so glad you had a lovely time, the experience looks fantastic. I've read the Thirteenth Tale, and loved it. Not sure if that means much as you're way ahead of me in book stakes, but hope you enjoy!

  7. Looks like you had a great time, I remember reading Black Diamonds that you had in the first pile and I recall The Gathering Light being a good read too!

  8. I love Bath :) We shall be relocating there if we ever sell our damn house :/ I confess I haven't been to Sally Lunns but will definitely be checking out the Fashion Museum when I am down there :)

  9. I giggle every time I walk past the knob shop! x

  10. Glad you had a good time. I would certainly stress if I was going on a surprise trip, it takes me weeks to pack xxx

  11. Wow what a cool trip! I just read 'The Night Circus' and 'The earth gums in B flat' and they're both fantastic! (actually, devoured would be a better word...) :)

  12. Bath is so lovely, what a fabulous idea to take you there and to the Reading Spa. I've just finished reading The Night Circus, it was good but it took ages to get going... I seem to be the only person that doesn't love it, so I'd be interested to see what you make of it.
    The Fashion Museum looks like my kind of place!
    Knobs *chuckles*

  13. I adore Bath and wish it wasn't so far! Glad you enjoyed it :-)

  14. Sounds like a wonderful and very appropriate b'day pressie for you (good one Char!) and happy belated birthday. I'm slightly envious you manage the time to read, I can barely keep up with buying two weekly magazines, it's terrible!

  15. What a wonderful surprise!
    Haven't been to Bath in ages, it is such a beautiful place. Well, the old bits and all that beautiful golden stone everywhere.
    Having left some books behind is a good scam...means you have a perfect excuse to go back!!
    I have to admit I've not had a Sally Lunn bun; are they good?
    Can't beat a good knob collection, can you????
    Z xx

  16. I am firmly in favour of the return of the bonnet! Despite my heart being in Art Deco, the only thing I suit is a bonnet and empire waist! *g*

    Bath looks divine, I really must go.

    Fab choice of books too - I've read the Anne Holt and Gathering Storm. Both fab.

  17. Love your photos, you do know how to rock a bonnet. Love the bookshops in Bath, I went there for the Bath Literary Festival a few years ago and loved it. xx

  18. When you say it's a book SPA, what do you mean by that? Whatever, I want to go!
    oh and I bought a Persephone books publication- can't wait to read it!x

  19. What a wonderful weekend! I was lucky enough to spend three months living in Bath as an exchange student when I was 16. This post and your photos brought back some very happy memories.

  20. this all looks amazing and like my perfect weekend. I was to frolic in a bonnet RIGHT NOW! and I want a sausage sandwich. I have the earth hums in b flat, lent it to someone and never got it back :( xx

  21. Sound like the perfect weekend for you hun. Char is obviously the bestest friend ever!

    I know exactly what you mean about taking shots of food, you do feel a little like a food inspector if you pull your camera out.

    X x

  22. What a perfect birthday!

    Maria xxx

  23. Your trip to Bath couldn't have been more different to my trip last year with a girlfriend. Taking tea in the pump room, on our first afternoon, I tentatively said 'Well I would like to go to the American Museum!' , her laugh should have set alarm bells ringing? We spent the entire two days trudging around shops; looking back why didn't I speak up? Shrinking violet I'm most definitely not! Needless to say, her suggestion this year as to another 'jolly fell on deaf ears.

    Reading about your wonderful trip, especially to Mrs B's has found me spitting feathers. So much money spent at the temple of my 'friends' vanity. Thank you for opening my eyes.


  24. It is impossible to list the ways in which I am jealous of ALL of this post. So I won't try.


  25. Char is a total little gem! And what an amazing job the spa lady has, she must be really well-read to be able to chat to people who will presumably have wildly varying tastes and pick out a selection of books for them to try - boggles my brain! I loveloveloved the fashion museum :) xxx

  26. I love Bath, haven't been for a few years but Mr B's is always a port of call! Is the dog still there?

  27. Fab choice of books - my favourite is definately The Night Circus, a wonderful story!

    If you get the chance to go back to Bath again, check out Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms near the Assembly Rooms. Huge slabs of cake, dainty sandwiches and proper tea, all served in vintage china whilst listening to Glenn Miller. I work in Bath and last summer my line manager was lovely enough to treat her small team to breakfast at Bea's!

    Well worth a visit! x


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