Friday, March 7, 2008

What I Learned in England

Thanks for the warm send off! I’m back from jolly old England, but my head’s still spinning and my heart is overflowing. Lovely trip! I’m sure everything I’ve learned will make its way into the next few months of posts, but here’s some of the things that amazed me most:

Bath Water Doesn’t Taste That Bad. I’ve read where the heroines stick up their noses and gag down the waters in the popular Georgian spa town of Bath. Since Roman times the spring waters in Bath have been held to have healing properties. I drank from the pump used in the nineteenth century, and I’m here to tell you it didn’t taste bad at all. My husband says that’s because our local water is mineral heavy too so I’m used to it. The one thing that did surprise me is that it’s warm!

Portraits Really Are Kind of Cool. My heroine in La Petite Four sneers at painting portraits as beneath her skills as an artist, but I was really impressed with the ones I saw. The painter went out of his or her way to make sure you know something of the sitter by including little snippets from the sitter’s life: a sheath of music for a composer, a paint brush for an artist. The portraits are like little stories done in pictures.

It’s Not Possible to Collect Too Much If You Have the Right Architect. Architect Sir John Soane was an avid collector, and he managed to use every single inch of his small townhouse to good advantage. Still, it is a bit overwhelming.

Beau Brummell Was Audacious. I always imagined that judge of fashion taste, Beau Brummell, sitting in the famous bow window of White’s gentlemen’s club and staring down at the ladies passing on the street below. White’s bow window is at street level, which means that Brummell would actually have been about eye to eye with the ladies. How risqué that must have been to find yourself the object of his study. Ooooo!

More next week when I stop fanning myself and get my pictures properly in order.


Cara King said...

Hi, Regina! So glad your trip was great!

I've drunk the Bath water many times, and actually had a bunch of different experiences with it. (Perhaps it depends on the time of year? Weather? Spa fairies?)

Once it was tasteless and a bit fizzy, and left me feeling energized and almost lightheaded. (Placebo effect? Coincidence?)

Once or twice, it has tasted quite bad -- rather sulfurous, IIRC. Not just mineralish, but icky.

And sometimes it's been in-between!

They do something nowadays to de-germify it or something; don't know if that changes the flavor. (Less moldy?) :-)

(who wants to live in John Soanes' house, but with her own stuff, not his) (Okay, I'll keep some of his stuff)

Ellen Booraem said...

Would a proper lady have walked in front of Whites? (My sole source of information is Georgette Heyer in 1968, mind you--The Grand Sophy, I think.) ;-D

Maybe she could go there if accompanied by a gentleman...

Glad you had a good trip, Regina! It sounds like you made the most of it...

Regina Scott said...


Interesting! The taste may indeed have something to do with the time of year, or the vintage of the water being pulled out of the deep aquifer.

It is my understanding that a proper lady could walk in front of White's earlier in the day if she was shopping. So perhaps she missed Mr. Brummell who was at home trying to perfect the tie of his cravat?

Marissa Doyle said...

I suppose the taste of the water depends on the kind of bubble bath you're using... :)

Actually, on my one visit many years ago (sniff sniff) the water in the Pump Room was tasting pretty dreadful. That was in mid-March, in case we want to look for a seasonal link.

Mary Witzl said...

I used to live in a hot spring town in Japan (Beppu). Every morning, the residents in my apartment building would go down to the source near our communal bath and fill their jugs with boiling water. After the water had cooled to lukewarm, you put it in the refrigerator and chilled it. My landlady swore it had cured her anemia for good.

The town I live in now is also a spa town, but sadly we cannot drink the water. I've had Bath water a few times, but like Cara, I found it variable.

I'm glad I don't have to dust Soane's house. Bad enough that I've got this place...

La Belle Americaine said...

Hmm...I'm about 90 years after the Regency period, but there were town houses and mansions in the St James area, so perhaps a lady could have been quizzed leaving her home or the home of friends.