Just in the office, working 10-12 hour days for the past 2 weeks to make a end-of-the-month deadline.
Before it all happened, I had already booked a long weekend to Bath, which fell right in the middle of all the madness. And so I went, reluctantly dragging my exhausted body and tired mind. I was so utterly physically broken down I thought I was gonna heave and topple over in front of a train. Not because I wanted to die, but because I just plain ran out of energy to hold myself up.
Due to the first of the extremely long and stressful weeks at work, I was rip-roaring sick by the Saturday morning I was to set off, but unwilling to lose the money I’ve invested in my bus ticket and hostel reservation, I somehow made it across town to the bus station, passed out on the bus for 3 hours – then spent what was left of my first day curled up in bed in my 8-person mixed dorm.
As I struggled to stay warm and wore my street jacket even in bed, people came in and out getting ready for night outs. I was alone, ill, and away from anyone I know. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I thought if all my holidays are going to be like that, I’m never going on holiday again.
I felt better the next day, and although my nose still sputtered and my throat clenched itself dry, I HAD to get outside and wander about because otherwise it would all have been for nothing.
A depressing thought suddenly came to me as I wandered the streets of Roman and Georgian architecture the next two days: I’d come to Bath to recover from work, and in anticipation of an equally hectic week ahead, I’ve come on holiday to recharge for the next week of work.
I’ve always gone on trips because it’s what I like doing. I like seeing new places. I like doing something new. I like exploring. I like the excitment of travel. I work to go on holiday.
But this time, I sadly realise, I have gone on holiday for work.
I can’t be sure, but as far as I can remember right now, this was the first time I’ve gone on holiday to recover from and brace myself for, work.
According to Lonely Planet, if you are going to explore just one city outside of London, make it Bath. The city of Jane Austen, of ancient Roman Baths, of Georgian architecture, of cobbled-stone streets, of tea-houses.
Well, I haven’t been to all that many cities here, so I can’t vouch for that. But as this symbol shows, the city has so many listed buildings that the entire city of Bath has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bath is indeed a beautiful city to be in and great to spend an easy weekend in. It’s big enough to have lots of shops, pubs and restaurants for you to wander round and little nooks and side streets to explore, but also small enough for you to walk everywhere, not get lost and not have to rely on transport.
Bath is architecturally very beautiful, but without a guide, all you can do is say that it is beautiful. If you do find yourself in Bath, I highly recommend one of the *free* Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides tours. Lasting, I think, 2 hours, you go on a guided walk around town with a great knowledgable volunteer who do it for no money at all. He explains the history of Bath, how the city and buildings came to be, and the characters in town. Not in a boring way, but in a funny and amusing way, with quirky stories thrown in here and there. I finished the walk feeling much more appreciative of the city, and the stories behind the residents and the buildings.
For example, without a guide, I wouldn’t have given much thought to the filled-in rectangular holes in the walls along the back gardens of these Georgian houses. Nor would I know that it belonged to an era when toilets have yet to be invented and the gentlemen and ladies of these houses would excuse themselves to the “withdrawing room” to pee and poop into a bucket, later which the maids would bring out into the garden to stash into the wooden cupboard built into the back garden wall.
At night, a man with a horse cart would go along the path next to the walls, and collect the buckets from the cupboards to be dumped into the nearby river.
Nor would I know that as the years went by, people went more high-tech and built cupboard extensions to their flats, where very few remain these days. The black little structure hanging outside the apartment in the middle of the photo is one example. It’s where people went to pee and poop, into a hole, which basically empties into thin air….
Spending 2 nights and 3 days there, I had more than enough time to wander about. In fact, I had so much time that I went to my first real church service in a real church (not a cleared-out classroom in a school or whatever), held the Bible and listened to the choir and pathetically tried to sing the hymns.
For one reason or the other, I’ve always found comfort in tradition and religion. Forget historical rivalries. Forget hypocrisies. Forget injustices and wars. I’ve sat in many a church and felt peace.
Three days of doing fuckall in Bath did calm me down…until I returned to London and hyper-ventilated at the thought of work.