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Food/Arts/Entertainment/Shopping/Property @BathLifeMag



ISSUE 373 / 1 – 14 SEPTEMBER 2018 / £3













ABOVE: Cover star

Joe Cussens tells us how to build a better boozer (page 50; BELOW: Fashion’s boldest colour (page 78)


ow many times have you felt in need of a beer or glass of wine, remembered a pub around the corner you used to like, and rocked up to find it isn’t there any more? If you’re like me, it’s happening more and more these days. Either it’s been reinvented as a Farrow & Balled gastro pub, aimed more at diners than drinkers, or – much more likely, and much more sad – it’s disappeared entirely. We only have ourselves to blame, of course – we don’t use pubs like we used to, so little wonder many of them can’t make things stack – and once a boozer decides to go down the poshed-up foodie route, a whole new set of problems come into play. Like, where will you find the chefs and front of house staff you need? With every restaurant chain in the land – some well-realised and top notch, others running on a wing and a prayer and a big pot of VC money – making a beeline for Bath, demand for hospitality professionals is far outstripping supply. This issue we chat about the state of the hospitality game with major player Joe Cussens of The Bath Pub Co, the guys behind The Marlborough Tavern, Hare & Hounds and more, in the latest of our Big Interviews (page 50), and elsewhere look at everything from the best places to grab a tasty afternoon tea treat (page 68) to the power of the colour red (page 78). Plus, we explore Larkhall (page 32), and meet some of the people who live and work there. This is surely one of the city’s most vibrant urban villages – and still home to a good selection of pubs, from spit-and-sawdust old-school boozers to intriguing foodie specialists, and everything in between. Larkhall’s always been one of my favourite corners of the city, and the fact I can still get an easy drink there doesn’t hurt. Cheers!

LISA EVANS Follow us on Twitter @BathLifeMag Instagram @bathlifemag

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 3

Issue 373 / 1-14 September 2018 COVER Joe Cussens photo, by Jesper Mattias


32 LARKHALL Lots of character, thriving indie

businesses, and its own theatre – what’s not to love?


43 ARTS INTRO Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer’s

riotous new stage comedy, Vulcan 7

44 WHAT’S ON Your cultural diary, sorted 50 THE BIG INTERVIEW Bath Pub Company

supremo, Joe Cussens, opens up


57 BOOKS A literary reflection of those notoriously

difficult school years

59 THEATRE The Theatre Royal’s French connection




60 RESTAURANT Five-star dining at the Macdonald

Bath Spa Hotel

63 TAKE 5 Supper clubs, Always Sunday House-style 68 AFTERNOON TEA In need of a cuppa and cakey

sustenance? We’ve got your back...


75 INTRO Midcentury modern comes to Willsbridge 76 EDITOR’S CHOICE Celebrating Jane Austen 78 FASHION Easy to wear, difficult to ignore

– hot red picks from Bath’s (mostly) indie boutiques




www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 7

Issue 373 / 1-14 September 2018


27 INSIDE STORY Philippa’s already waving goodbye

to summer...

88 WEEKENDER Fun – with a capital ‘F’ – in Frome 114 LIVES The Holburne’s Chris Stephens talks great art

and the changing role of museums


91 BUSINESS INSIDER Bath Life Awards update, and

the latest biz news, movers and shakers


84 GARDEN Are long, hot summers the new normal? 103 SHOWCASE A Georgian gem on Somerset Place





Editor Lisa Evans lisa.evans@mediaclash.co.uk Acting Deputy Editor Vel Ilic Managing Editor Deri Robins deri.robins@mediaclash.co.uk Senior Art Editor Andrew Richmond Graphic Design Megan Allison Cover Design Trevor Gilham Editor’s Photo Bonnie Rose Contributors David Flatman, Philippa May, Matt Bielby, Katie Kissoon, Hugo Ball, Paul Marland Group Advertising Manager Pat White pat.white@mediaclash.co.uk Deputy Advertising Manager Justine Walker justine.walker@mediaclash.co.uk Account Manager Annabel North annabel.north@mediaclash.co.uk Sales Executive Polly Jackson polly.jackson@mediaclash.co.uk Sales Executive Bianca Eccles bianca.eccles@mediaclash.co.uk Production/Distribution Manager Sarah Kingston sarah.kingston@mediaclash.co.uk Deputy Production Manager Kirstie Howe kirstie.howe@mediaclash.co.uk Production Designer Matt Gynn matt.gynn@mediaclash.co.uk Chief Executive Jane Ingham jane.ingham@ mediaclash.co.uk Chief Executive Greg Ingham greg.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk Bath Life MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW; 01225 475800; www.mediaclash.co.uk @The MediaClash © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. We’re a Bath-based publisher, creative agency and event organiser Magazines Our portfolio of regional magazines celebrates the best of local living: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Salisbury. We also publish the foodie mag, Crumbs (www.crumbsmag.com, @CrumbsMag). Agency From the design and build of websites to digital marketing and creating company magazines, we can help. Events We create, market, promote and operate a wide variety of events both for MediaClash and our clients Contact: info@mediaclash.co.uk

8 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk


Hair and now: artist Grayson Perry is calling on the public to help him unearth his ‘lost’ early works; (right) Perry’s ‘Cocktail Party’, a glazed ceramic piece from 1989

Art of the matter

PERRY MUCH SO Do you have a rare Grayson Perry pot or plate lurking in your living room or attic? Unlikely, we know. But if you have, then Bath’s Holburne Museum would love to hear from you. One of Britain’s best-known artists, Perry works in tapestry, collage and ceramics to explore issues of gender, identity and social class. Together with the Holburne, he is looking for early pieces he created between 1983 and 1994, to form part of a Perry ceramics exhibition in 2020. With many of the artist’s earliest works unrecorded, however, it could prove to be a tricky ask. “In my first decade of exhibiting [mostly in London], I would often show over 60 or 70 works,” says Perry. “I sold them for modest sums and often gave away what was left. I was terrible at admin and photography so have very little record of those early pieces. “I was very excited when the Holburne proposed a show of my early ceramics, as it would also be an opportunity to find and record the beginnings of my career. My record-keeping

Kate Smith, director of The Makery, and Byll Pulman, co-founder of The Woodworks Project

hasn’t improved much – I recently moved house and found five pots in the loft which had been unseen since the ’80s, and a dozen plates from the early ’90s in a cupboard under a sink!” So, if you do happen to have an early Perry piece knocking around, and would be willing to have it exhibited, then contact the Holburne at curator@holburne.org, titling your email: ‘Grayson Perry Lost Works’. For more: www.holburne.org

Creative thinking

ON THE MAKE Independent Bath-based craft businesses, The Makery, which runs all manner of creative/craft workshops and events, has teamed up with local charity The Woodworks Project to support and run upholstery workshops at the latter’s Midland Road studio. The Woodworks Project runs furniture and upholstery workshops for people who struggle with mental or physical health or have a history of addiction, helping them move forward in a friendly and supportive environment. “Making and being creative goes hand in hand with supporting mental health,” says Kate Smith, director of The Makery. “We’ve been in Bath for almost 10 years, and our customers often say that attending workshops gives them the time and space they need to really recharge.” “We’re very excited to be building this partnership with The Makery – Kate has created a fantastic business,” adds Byll Pullman, co-founder of The Woodworks Project. “I’m sure this is the beginning of a truly wonderful partnership that will benefit both our organisations.” Upcoming upholstery courses at The Woodworks Project are on 23 September and 21 October. For more: www.themakery.co.uk, www.thewoodworksproject.com

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 11

SPOTLIGHT Petal power: a new American-themed garden is set to transform Bath’s American Museum

American Dream

GARDEN OF DELIGHT The American Museum and Gardens in Bath is soon to launch a new £2-million ‘American garden’, which will transform the museum’s visitor experience. Designed by oddly named Washington DC-based landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden, the garden will include American-themed flower beds and trails, enhancing the existing landscape. Featuring many native US plants, trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs, it will follow the freeform style made famous by the firm’s founders, Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden. “We’re constantly seeking new and inspiring ways to showcase American history,” says director Richard Wendorf. “As an American, I’m so pleased visitors will have the opportunity to explore so many wonderful plants from my homeland.” The garden will also house a new natural amphitheatre for concerts and events, and six larger-than-life portraits of key figures in American history by renowned international sculptor, Angela Connor. Celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh will officially open the gardens on 15 September, on which day visitors can enjoy free entry, live music and guided tours. For more: www.americanmuseum.org



On 24 October, Creative Bath will hold the third annual Property Symposium event. The panel session will feature key speakers Simon Martin (Bath Quays development, B&NES) and Tarquin McDonald (Stadium for Bath, Bath Rugby) as well as other key players in Bath’s changing property scene. Taking place at Walcot House from 6-8pm, the free event (tickets from www.creativebath.org) is a chance to hear updated news about the plans for Bath Quays, the Stadium for Bath and new city developments. “The lack of commercial property for tech and creative companies in Bath has become a major inhibitor of the city’s growth,” says Creative Bath chair, Greg Ingham. “Some Bath companies have already moved to Bristol; some London companies can’t find suitable premises here. The sector is a vital driver of the local economy, so it’s in all our interests to support Bath Quays, highlight the issue and discover bold new commercial opportunities such as the Stadium for Bath.” For more: www.creativebath.org

Artist’s impression of Bath Quays

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Abbey days


Bath Abbey recently announced that the Revd Canon Guy Bridgewater is to be the new rector of Bath Abbey, starting at the end of this year. Canon Bridgewater is currently team rector and rural dean of Horsham, a role he has held for eleven years, and his induction is expected to be in November. “What an overwhelming privilege it is to be asked to join the wonderful team at Bath Abbey,” says Canon Bridgewater. “My wife, Jebs, and I are thrilled by the invitation, and we look forward enormously to the challenges and joys of ministry in this great city.” “We are delighted to Bath Abbey’s new rector, Guy Bridgewater be welcoming Guy at a particularly exciting time in the Abbey’s history,” says James Playfair, one of Bath Abbey’s churchwardens. “We have just started work on our innovative Footprint project which will transform the Abbey and improve how we serve our congregations, local communities and visitors. The Abbey needs the best leadership at this crucial time, and we are fortunate to have been able to appoint Guy.” For more: www.bathabbey.org


Liz and Derek Robinson

Colette and Trevor Dartford Inga Harris and Louise Jones-Robinson

Wendy Dolan, Ann Hollas, Jennie Dixon Evie Lenton, Sue French and Steve Leckie

Jeans genie: A model struts her stuff


Friends and customers enjoyed a sparkling evening at womenswear retailer Blue’s recent charity fashion show, held at The Loft in Bath. Showcasing the new collections for Autumn/Winter 2018, whilst fundraising for Cancer Research, outďŹ ts featured on the catwalk included new styles from favourite designers such as Rundholz, Lurdes Bergada, Xenia Design, Ania Schierholt and Mama B. Photos by Betty Bhandari; www.bettybhandari.com

Rosie Carne, Janet Bolton, Silvia Owen and Lynne Roche

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Layne Lamberti and Sally Waldegrave Nuala Sheehan and Astral Blanchard


Lisa Till, Laura Maddox and Laura Picot

Steve Vick and Mark Collins-Thomas


Bath’s newest group exercise gym, TONIQ – which offers classes in strength, cardio and all-over conditioning – held a launch event at its Green Park fitness studio. The party was attended by new members, independent business owners and local residents, who had a chance to look around the venue, while enjoying organic prosecco and tunes from in-house DJ, Oli Hill. Photos by Derryn Vranch Photography; www.derrynvranch.com

John East and Alex Duarte-Davies

Louis Greensmith and Frankie Goffey Arron CollinsThomas, Andy Jackson and Alex Miller

Hattie Banks, Lily Myers and Georgie Boffey Samantha Jayne Ricketts, Katie Viscuglia-Sardo and Celia Adams

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Jessica Till and Laura Androsoni


Please contact bathevents@cnty.com for all private hire and package enquiries Saw Close Bath BA1 1EY 01225 308 990 Know your limits! For more information go to: BeGambleAware.org – DrinkAware.co.uk

www.cnty.com/bath Come for the Action, Stay for the Fun!


Drum’s the word: The Badger Badger Band


Mind, body and soul shindig, the Cock & Bull festival, returned to its countryside location near Bath with over 50 live acts and DJs, healing fields, craft workshops and communal eating, raising funds for the Jamie’s Farm charity – which helps disadvantaged young people – in the process.

Good-time boys, Double Bass Dan

Ear we go Annie Bea, blues chanteuse par excellence

Finger-pickin’ good: Hot Club de Wiltshire The Bikini Beach Band: bright on time

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Sneaky selfie


Pat White, Gemma Scrine, Greg Ingham, Stephanie Dodd, Andrew Richmond and Anna Britten

Michela Amato, Susan Fox and Lindsey Braidley


To celebrate the residency of their Minerva’s Owl ARTIS, the Abbey Hotel hosted a Wise Owl Quiz Night to see who really rules the roost. Teams of trail sponsors, artists and visitors were pitted against each other for the chance to win a complimentary two-course meal at the hotel’s exclusive new Koffmann & Mr White’s restaurant, a partnership between legendary chefs Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White, which opens this month.

Jennie Alger and Emma Page

Wendy Race, Rosario Bavetta, Tigga and ARTIS the owl


Modern haberdashery/atelier V V Rouleaux recently marked its first birthday with an all-day celebration at its George Street shop, with customers treated to free cake, fizz, discounts, presents and craft workshops. Bonita Weir-William and Issi Rawlings Annabel Lewis

20 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

Lauren Morris and Emily Johnston

Photos by Roy Newport

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Time for tea It’s hard to imagine Flats taking afternoon tea – does he eat the tiniest sandwich in multiple mouse bites, or raise his little finger? – but he assures us he does…



“Afternoon tea at my house has always meant, as a rule, two cups of coffee and what would, for most folks, constitute a large meal”

hat’s the thing with afternoon tea, it can ruin your dinner. After all, it’s not actually just a cup of tea, is it? As a concept, though, it’s a beauty, and an underused one to my mind. Unless you’re one of those people in possession of some self-control – and who are these people? – it’s very nearly impossible not to completely overdo it. Afternoon tea at my house has always meant, as a rule, two cups of coffee and what would, for most folks, constitute a large meal. But that’s my problem and I’m working on it. Afternoon tea at an actual establishment, though, feels entirely more luxurious. I haven’t been for a while, but The Priory Hotel used to be a favourite due to the lovely terrace and city-garden vista. A nice pot of Earl Grey, some cute, crustless sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and all sorts of little posh cakes made it a winner. But if you take all of this in around mid-afternoon, how on earth can you be expected to consume an evening meal a few hours later? Even I have trouble. So I’ve been tinkering with my afternoon tea strategy. Unwilling to sacrifice the portion sizes of either my lunch or my dinner, my tea break needs to be more modest but – and this is the key – no less indulgent. Whacking in a load of bread and sponge serves only to inflate you until you feel like a duck on the River Avon, so the fun must come from sugar. Evil old sugar.

There are many spots at which to enjoy something naughty in Bath, but sitting outside the Society Café with a brew and a brownie is particularly pleasant. I like Kingsmead Square a lot, and Society gets it just right. What likely helps is that after your second cake – everyone has two, don’t they? – you can buy a bag of vegetables from the big market stall and make yourself feel all virtuous and organic. The St. James Deli is also a lovely spot – if there’s a table left free – to sit and watch those lucky enough to live on the square going about their business, and those omnipresent workmen toiling away on said inhabitants’ gorgeous homes. So long as you don’t follow a Bath Rugby player in there, there’s also always a fabulous selection of meals to whack in a box for later. The real luxury around afternoon tea is the time. You’re meant to be working. That’s what afternoons are for, not lounging and sipping. It’s a treat, so treat it as one. There’s no reason that I can see, though, that you shouldn’t treat yourself every afternoon. Because you’re worth it.

David Flatman is an ex-Bath and England rugby star turned TV pundit and rent-o-mic. Follow him on Twitter @davidflatman

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 25



Sashiko navy wallpaper at Graham & Brown

NOUVELLE HAGUE With colder, darker evenings in mind, Philippa’s planning a cosy cave


t looks like soon we’ll be saying goodbye to summer. I can’t complain; it’s been a glorious one this year, which has resulted in more time than ever socialising outside. But I can’t help but feel like I’m ready to welcome back a bit of rainy weather. I know, I’m going to regret saying it, but it’s nice when you have a cosy cave to read in, entertain in, or just sit back and relax in as the dark weather starts to roll over us. I’ve been eyeing up a few new pieces of furniture recently, and have begun to wonder if I can face some darker woods too. I’m not usually one to shy away from the light washed Scandinavian vibes – mostly because dark sideboards remind me of my childhood houses when growing up, and so still feel very outdated to me – but, like with everything else, interiors trends tend to come full circle, and darker wood is very much back in vogue. The real trick, I feel, is to complement a woody mahogany

“A dazzling wallpaper can become the ultimate focal point of a room”

vibe with a strong colour, too. And I’m craving a deep Hague Blue room to contrast with the mood of the rest of the house; a retreat to recline in with an oldschool country feel. I’m thinking rich leather chairs you sink into, overflowing bookcases, and this strong, deep, dramatic blue – a Farrow & Ball colour inspired by Dutch interiors and with something of a cult following – running from the floor through the ceiling. It makes an imposing statement that still feels gentle on the eye, and sets the perfect mood for the coming winter months. If I was even bolder, I’d look at a brass and navy wallpaper inspired by sashiko, a type of geometric embroidery from Japan. I’ve been inspired to try a unique and exciting wallpaper ever since Allyson McDermott opened a showroom at Margaret’s Buildings. You can’t help but be astounded by the detailed paper adorning the windows here, and my admiration for them led me to discover that Allyson has spent a lifetime conserving original historic wallpapers and researching materials and techniques, rediscovering centuryold processes – including gilding, embossing, hand painting and flocking – to create wallpapers for historic buildings. There’s true artisan skill on display here that you can take great interior inspiration from. If you want

to keep your use of accessories simple, then a dazzling wallpaper can become the ultimate focal point of a room. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to embark on the wallpaper trend yet, though, as I’ve had far too much unpleasant experience trying to strip it off walls in renovations to be quite converted. So I’m thinking of accentuating the bottomless Hague Blue colour with brass and textural highlights instead. OKA has released a fantastic preview of its upcoming autumn pieces, including a brass paparazzo lamp that I can’t wait to grab. With its retro style it couldn’t fit the vibe better, feeling luxurious with its hand-made antiqued brass head and green marble base. It’s a lamp to create the perfect mood, its single brass disc masking the lightbulb and almost referencing a vintage camera flash. It would be perfect for a dark wood sideboard-cumdrinks cabinet. All I need now is to find the perfect mustard velvet pouffe, and the cave will be ready to retreat to come the slog of rain.

Philippa May is an interiors enthusiast and the designer and head of brand for the Bath-based loungewear label Laze Wear. Follow her on Instagram @_philippamay_ www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 27

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VILLAGE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Who’s a member? Just about every one of Larkhall’s many thriving independent businesses, it seems, making this perhaps the most mutually supportive community in Bath By Paul Marland Pictures by Roy Newport

Even grey clouds can’t hide the charm of Larkhall, very much a village within the city, and with a vibe and energy all its own

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“This is a vibrant gem of a community, with a range of specialist stores as good as any the South West has to offer”


hat makes for the perfect village? If you were to ask many a film-maker, it would have to be as pretty as Castle Combe – not so far from Bath, of course – which has been home to everything from Doctor Doolittle to War Horse. If you were to ask someone like Penelope Keith, who made it her business to know in a hit TV travelogue, it might be a place as eccentric as Beer in East Devon, with its own anthem – sung to the tune of ‘My Darling Clementine’ – and both a murky smuggler past and a prouder history of lacemaking. The problem with both of these – and many others, of course – is that they’re in the middle of nowhere. Many villages are ill-served by buses, and can all too often fall apart when whatever was holding them together – church, pub or post office – closes through lack of use. As an alternative, may we instead suggest something rather more convenient – and much closer to home? Larkhall, a quiet little residential area tucked away on Bath’s eastern side – far enough to feel separate, but near enough for an easy, flat saunter in – has a good range of pretty but (by Bath standards) not too expensive housing options, and character galore. This is a vibrant gem of a community, with its own theatre – the intimate, 105-seat Rondo, where all sorts of fun, fringe-style productions rock up – and an impressive range of specialist stores as good as anything the South

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When you think Larkhall, you think Peter Milton and the guys at Larkhall Butchers

West has to offer. Best of all, intriguing new businesses are opening here all the time – the excellent vegetarian restaurant Nourish, and The Beaufort Bookshop, being just two that recently caught our eye. ONE THING THAT makes Larkhall feel particularly village-like, of

course, is Larkhall Butchers, not just a top-notch meat specialist – rare enough these days – but offering a wider range of farm shop-like products too. “We’re a traditional butchery, but with a more relaxed, modern feel,” says boss Peter Milton. “And we love Larkhall. It offers all the amenities of a ‘one-stop-shop’, but with the charm and appeal of a village centre. It really is a thriving satellite to Bath, which helps it attract a wide array of people looking to avoid the congestion and complications of the city centre. And it’s home to a wonderful community, both welcoming and helpful. It’s the ideal location.” Pete reckons Larkhall could do with a decent patisserie-cum-bakery to complement the growing foodie scene here – “not that it would help my waistline,” he says – and considers Langbridge Home Hardware the area’s most valuable player in a competitive field. “It’s hard to pick just one,” Peter says, “but they have to take the prize. A third generation family-run store, they’re really helpful and offer a mind-boggling selection of products – and will happily order anything in for you.” There are plenty of good food businesses here too. Brigitte Touret of Ma Cuisine offers healthy, hand-cooked ready meals made to authentic Mediterranean recipes – according to Brigitte they’re the UK’s only hand-made French ready meals – and will be starting a new season of supper clubs in October. She’ll shortly be opening a new

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“It offers all the ameneties of a ‘one-stop-shop’, but with the charm and appeal of a village centre ” bistro, too. Brigitte and partner Christophe buy all their meat from Larkhall Butchers, but also adore Crockadoodledoo, the fun pottery painting studio. “I’d love to pedestrianise the square and increase parking spaces,” she says, “but there’s nothing much missing here. The Larkhall Festival is lots of fun, with performances, a garden trail, and local artists exhibiting their work. And the Christmas opening night is a must-see.” Then there’s Patricia Sechi of The Village Kitchen – a café on the square she hopes will soon be central to the Larkhall experience – who reckons she’s the area’s newest business. “I’ve just been open a week,” she tells us, “and so far everyone has been very complimentary.” Everything’s certainly bright and clean here, with a pretty garden where you can enjoy her fresh, home-style food on balmier days. “I’m trying to offer healthy, colourful dishes in a continental style, to reflect my Italian origins,” she says. “We serve everything from cakes

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Agella Ho, getting creative at Bath Artist Printmakers

36 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

STREET LIFE and biscuits to salads, pies and pasta dishes, and breakfasts are going down well too, especially the Full English and smoked salmon and avocado.” She’s also very proud of her coffee – and the men who serve it. “They’re two of the most attractive male baristas in Bath,” she says, “and they’re as professional as they are handsome!” Over at The Rose and Crown, one of the area’s many boozers – now also serving weekend brunch – boss Toby Brett is another who enjoys the friendly feel. “I enjoy walking to Larkhall Butchers to pick up my meat,” he says, “then the greengrocers for vegetables. You can get a loaf of bread from the deli, then a light bulb from the hardware store. It’s great to be able to support independent businesses without getting into your car.” These guys only opened last year – “it was the weekend of the Festival, and we saw what felt like the whole village in our first few days,” Toby says – and aim to provide a real meeting place for the community. “Even before we took over I liked The Rose and Crown. It feels how a pub should, dogfriendly and cosy.” SOMETHING LARKHALL BOASTS that many

areas don’t is a selection of great community spaces, not least the award-winning New Oriel Hall, using a site that was once an old school. Here they run regular classes and workshops, while the space can be hired for parties, wedding receptions or whatever. New classes start in September, so now’s the perfect time to check it out. “We run a community library, entirely managed by volunteers,” says their Caroline Woodgate, “as well as a monthly ‘Repair Café’, where – yes – people learn to mend things. Plus, of course, we’ve Lucinda Niel at Leak, offering great been hosting the annual Larkhall Festival for the individual gifts, and a bit of a laugh last 10 years. Older folk who visit us often used to go to school here, and are amused to see our office is the old headmaster’s room.” The original well-used, much-loved Oriel Hall was actually in nearby Upper Swainswick, a small village to the northeast of Bath, and was built on land owned by Oriel College, Oxford. It was demolished in 1994 to make way for the bypass, but though a replacement hall was promised, finding somewhere suitable proved impossible – until it was decided that this Victorian school building, then sadly derelict, would fit the bill. Ten years and a million pound refit later, and the community suddenly had a much bigger space to play with, and a much larger catchment area too. And what does Caroline think of Larkhall? “Oh, it’s a wonderful place with lots happening, and very people friendly. It’s great that Solsbury Hill – famous, of course, from the Peter Gabriel song – is on simply because he likes living here so much. “There’s a welcoming our doorstep, but I’d love for there to be easier access to Alice Park via camaraderie between businesses and residents that’s hard to find a footpath, so you could avoid the London Road. I love the gift shop, elsewhere,” he says. “We could, however, do with a really stand-out Leak, too – and especially that they’ve kept the old public loo open!” fish and chip restaurant – something like The Scallop Shell – though I do love Ma Cuisine, with its cheeky Frenchman preparing irresistible pastries. I like the way St. Saviours Church is so welcoming, too.” THOUGH MANY OF Larkhall’s most prominent businesses are on One Larkhall store very much on the up is Not Just Pets, which has its high street – technically, St Saviour’s Road – others are on nearby moved everything over from its old St James Parade home to expand London Road, a main artery into Bath. This, of course, is both a the offering here. They now carry more raw dog food, offer reptile food blessing and a curse.“We get a lot of brand awareness from people stuck for the first time, and have extended their free delivery to a wider area. in traffic,” admits Glenn Perry, boss at Zest, Larkhall’s independent “We came here when the owner of a 16-year-old pet shop wanted to local estate agent. “But it also makes us aware of how much congestion sell her business to us, saying she loved what we’d done with our main there is, and how damaging that is to the environment. An innovate Bath store,” says owner Janine Tozer. “We regularly hold open days for alternative way to enter the city would be more than welcomed.” charity, which have been visited by many celebrities – including Darius, Zest has won Best Estate Agent in Bath at the British Property the world’s largest rabbit. We once featured in an episode of Animal Awards for three years running, and Glenn launched in Larkhall

“There’s a welcoming camaraderie between businesses and residents that’s hard to find elsewhere”

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 37






4-6 Lambridge Buildings, St Saviours Road, Larkhall, Bath BA1 6RS 01225 313848 | www.langbridge.co.uk

New Oriel Hall is at the hub of community life in Larkhall. Hire the Hall for weddings, parties, workshops and meetings. We have a full timetable of classes with something for everyone and while you are here we have a well-stocked community library to visit. For more information go to:

01225 466606 • www.neworielhall.org.uk

Would you like to work in Media Sales? We are always looking to hear from talented individuals who would like to work for MediaClash, presenting advertising opportunities and marketing solutions across our portfolio of fantastic local titles. We are a growing business and anticipate there being various opportunities over the next few months. If you would like to join our continuing success story please email your CV to pat.white@mediaclash.co.uk or give us a call anytime on 01225 475800 for a chat about the company, our magazines and available positions.

01225 311655 6-8 Brougham Place, Larkhall, Bath BA1 6SJ info@roseandcrownlarkhall.co.uk www.roseandcrownlarkhall.co.uk



Patricia Sechi blurs the lines between customers and staff at The Village Kitchen

Park, sold tropical fish to Nicolas Cage – from our sister shop in Frome – and received a signed picture from Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head, saying he would always buy his guinea pig food from us.” Janine is another who loves Goodies Deli, The Rondo Theatre – “we’re so excited that Tom Stoppard’s play, Arcadia, is running soon” – and the New Oriel Hall. “We like all the lovely routes for dog walking too,” she says. “The only thing we’re missing is a small local bank.” And then there’s independent gift shop Leak, already referenced once or twice in these pages. These guys love that their home used to be a public loo – hence the name – and have even retained a separate public toilet, which they run for the community. They like to support local designers and makers, too. “It makes our store an exciting one to shop in,” say Lucinda Niel and Kirstie Clarke, the women behind it. “People come in for a burst of energy and inspiration, and always leave with some beautiful item or other.” What about people who live here, but operate their businesses elsewhere? Claire and Henry Hunton of The Green Bird Cafe on Margaret’s Buildings are Larkhall residents and fans, adoring the way it combines friendliness and warmth with a short walk to the city centre. “Out of one window we have sweeping views of the beautiful Woolley Valley, and from another we can see all the way down to the Abbey,” Henry says. “It’s a wonderful place to base yourself if you want to explore Bath and the surrounding area.” And any favourite shops? “We also love Leak,” says Claire, “and The Beaufort Bookshop. The kids take their pocket money in, and see what gems they can unearth.” Also local is freelance graphic designer Robyn McBryde. “It has more of a community feel than many parts of Bath,” she says, “and it’s easy to get out into the countryside, avoiding most of the traffic as you

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head said he would always buy his guinea pig food from us” do so. It’s super-close to the beautiful Kensington Meadows walk, for instance. I’d like to see more events here like Widcombe Rising, though, where the streets are shut off and there are bands playing.” Others are only occasional visitors to Larkhall, offering classes and pop-up events in the area’s enviable range of public spaces. There’s Kate Macdonald of Handheld Press in Bathampton, who’s running her 20th-Century Book Group at The Beaufort Bookshop because, she says, “it’s so welcoming,” and Raych Carbery, who offers baby-andparent music classes under the Sing and Sign brand at New Oriel Hall. “Families can come to a class, then pop to the shops at the same time,” she says. “Killing two birds with one stone really helps when you have a little one! I love that Alice Park is nearby, too. The paved bike/scooter track there has helped so many families learn to ride.” FINALLY, AND AS with so much of Bath, there’s plenty of creative work going on around here, too. Take Bath Artist Printmakers, an arts collective of 30 or so – these guys specialise in wood engraving, silk screening and the like – sharing a studio where they hold exhibitions and courses.

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 39

“It’s a secret little slice of coutnry life”

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The two sides of Larkhall: from the more white collar, office-based city side we have some of the girls from Zest – Zoe Wilson, Kat Fox and Alix Stowell – while repping the village vibe is Luke Rich, owner of The Farm Shop

YOU HAVE BEEN READING… Bath Artist Printmakers; www.bathartistprintmakers.co.uk The Beaufort Bookshop; www.beaufortbookshop.co.uk Crockadoodledoo; www.crockadoodledo.co.uk Goodies Deli; www.goodliesdeli.co.uk The Headonista; theheadonista.com Langbridge Home Hardware; www.langbridge.co.uk Larkhall Butchers; www.larkhallbutchers.co.uk Leak; www.facebook.com/leakbath/ Ma Cuisine; www.macuisine.co.uk Not Just Pets; www.notjustpets.co.uk New Oriel Hall; www.neworielhall.org.uk The Rondo Theatre; www.rondotheatre.co.uk The Rose and Crown; www.roseandcrownlarkhall.co.uk St. Saviours Church; www.stsaviours.org.uk The Village Kitchen, 1 Upper Cambridge Street Zest Sales & Lettings; www.zestlovesproperty.com

“Larkhall is very supportive of the arts,” says exhibition co-ordinator Lynne Cunningham, “and it’s in a great location with its own quirky character. We love Goodies, and the Aladdin’s cave that is Langbridge, perfect for studio supplies. We probably need more parking and a better evening bus service, but you could say that about anywhere.” Vashti Mayne of The Headonista – she’s a self-employed milliner, creating one-off statement headwear – lives in Larkhall, she says, because it’s such a wonderful place to raise children. “It’s a secret little slice of country life,” she says. “For a small place, it’s very well served and has an incredibly strong sense of community. The proposed skate park in Alice Park was a great idea, and I’d still love to see it come to fruition. More provisions for teenagers can only be a good thing.” Vashti actually went to school here, and still likes to keep everything close to home, using local photographer Bob Whitfield to sell her creations. “Documenting what I’ve made is key to selling on-line, and Bob’s great; he makes my models feel relaxed in front of the camera.” And it’s this sort of close co-operation between local businesses that makes Larkhall so special. Indeed, when we got in touch with a select bunch of residents and businesses to ask what they thought of the place, they kept running around and sharing our interest with others. This is the sort of community where things tend to snowball – and in the very best sort way. n

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 41

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Co-written by (and co-starring) comedy royalty Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer, Vulcan 7 – a satirical new play about the life of an actor, coming soon to Bath’s Theatre Royal – looks to be a brilliantly riotous affair, as you’d expect from the erstwhile stars of anarchic telly alt-comedies such as The Young Ones, The Comic Strip Presents, and Filthy, Rich & Catflap. Gary Savage (Edmondson) and Hugh Delavois (Planer) were students at RADA together. Now in their sixties, the acting has-beens meet in an Icelandic wasteland, on the set of a fantasy movie. Hugh, making his seventh film for the franchise, has endured a plodding career but has landed the part of Vulcan’s butler – a small but regular

role – while Gary, a one-time Hollywood A-lister who has fallen on hard times, is reduced to playing a guest ‘monster’, with four hours in make-up and one word in the script. Inevitably, sparks fly inside the trailer as old wounds are reopened. And things are not going to plan elsewhere, either – the director’s gone AWOL, the catering truck is on the wrong side of a ravine, and volcanic activity is growing more and more lively by the minute. All told, it sounds like a perfect farce in the making. Vulcan 7 is at Theatre Royal, Bath, from 15-20 October. For tickets and more info, see www.theatreroyal.org.uk

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 43

WHAT’S ON 31 August 28 September

‘Eve’ by Maria Rivans – just one of the contemporary artists who will have work for sale at the Modern ArtBuyer pop-up at Milsom Place


EMMA ROSE Award-winning artist, specialising in contemporary, semi-abstract and impressionistic painting with an emphasis on colour and texture. Emma Rose Gallery; www.emmaroseartworks.com

Until 8 September

ADRIAN PARNELL In choosing the humble wildflower as his focus, artist Adrian Parnell draws us away from the more popular and opulent rose, introducing us to a more whimsical and delicate study that reminds us of simpler things, such as walks in the countryside and summery picnics. In this recent body of work,

44 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

he favours shades of yellow, from rich golden hues to earthy ochre. Axle Arts, Bath; www.axlearts.com

Until 16 September

PRIZED POSSESSIONS Dutch 17th-century paintings by some of the finest masters of the ‘Golden Age’ (from National Trust collections around the country) are displayed together for the first time – including a recently rediscovered self-portrait of Rembrandt – along with local gems from Dyrham Park. 10am to 5pm, £9/£10, The Holburne Museum; www.holburne.org

Until 16 September

A BRILLIANT ALTERNATIVE A vibrant mixture of new work by members of the Association for Contemporary Jewellery,

using an exciting range of materials including sterling silver, resin and even recycled discarded skateboards. The show will appeal to a broad range of tastes, from traditional to quirky. 11am–5pm Weds to Sat, noon-4pm Sun, Waller&Wood, Abbey Green; www.wallerandwood.co.uk

Until 21 October

BATH TO BAGHDAD An eclectic collection of art formed by Ellen Tanner following her journey to the Middle East in the 1890s, including luxurious textiles, delicate carved woodwork, elaborate metalwork and more, on display for the first time following a major conservation project. 10am to 5pm, Holburne Museum; www.holburne.org

Until 28 October

SIDE BY SIDE: AMERICA AND WORLD WAR I Marking the 100th anniversary of America’s first major military engagement, this exhibition uncovers the relationship between the US and Europe, reflecting on those who went into battle and those who stayed at home. 10am-5pm, various prices, The American Museum; www.americanmuseum.org

Until 28 October

THE BECKFORD WOMEN Exhibition exploring the lives of the women who influenced – and were influenced by – art collector, author, builder and all-round English eccentric, William Beckford. Various times and prices, Beckford’s Tower; www.beckfordstower.org.uk

WHAT’S ON Until 12 November

A QUEST FOR WELLNESS Beijing-based artist Zhang Yanzi takes a look at healing and wellbeing from the Chinese tradition, with large-scale installations, paintings and more. It should appeal to those with a curiosity about the human body, the human condition, medicine and healing. Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm, £5 adults, £4 seniors, The Museum of East Asian Art; www.meaa.org.uk

Until 30 November

ABOVE: Dylan ‘Black Books’ Moran is appearing at Komedia in Bath LEFT: Angela Conner’s striking sculpture of classical composer Sir John Tavener BELOW: Beth Packer, from blues and roots duo Ma Polaine’s Great Decline

THE ART OF THE CIRCLE Featuring work by artists Howard Jeffs, Stephen Magrath and Kirsten Murphy, using the shape of the circle as a connecting theme. The natural circles of the sun and moon have always been observed in our history, and this collection uses the fixed, powerful shape to display a range of prints. Circle Bath Hospital; www.artatruh.org

Until 1 January 2019

WONDER WOMEN OF SPACE A free exhibition celebrating the women who are changing the way we see the world and beyond. The museum talks to leading female astrophysicists, astronomers and engineers to find out what truly inspires them. 1-5pm weekdays, 10am-5pm weekends, various prices, Herschel Museum of Astronomy; www.herschelmuseum.org.uk

8-15 September

DOROTHY BROOK Elegant, abstracted bronze figures, inspired by dance, music and theatre. Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Axle Arts; www.axlearts.com

8 September – 25 November MAKING ART MATTER Showcasing the graphic works and illustrations of Bath-based artists (also husband and wife) Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, whose artistic partnership spanned more than five decades. The pair loved bright and bold design, and their imagery reveals an overwhelming interest in, and love of, the British countryside. 10.30am-5pm, £4.50 (concs available), Victoria Art Gallery; www.victoriagal.org.uk

15 September – 13 October

VISIONS OF SCIENCE Works from UK artists that reflect, represent, capture or depict modernday scientific phenomena, as studied by academics at the University’s Faculty of Science. Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm, Andrew Brownsword Gallery, The Edge, University of Bath; www.edgearts.org

15 September – 28 October

3-7 September

SILENT SENTINELS Land, sea and impressionisminspired mixed media paintings by artist, Darren Gordon. 10am-6pm, 44AD; www.44ad.net

FACE TO FACE WITH ANGELA CONNER Exhibition of intimate work by celebrated sculptor Angela Conner, promoting Anglo-American understanding. Subjects include the British royal family, actor Sir Laurence Olivier, James Bond writer Ian Fleming and American president Abraham Lincoln, amongst others. 10am-5pm, various prices, The American Museum; www.americanmuseum.org

3-16 September

17 September – 6 October

MODERN ARTBUYER POP-UP Featuring an inspiring selection of contemporary paintings and prints from Modern ArtBuyer’s roster of artists, including Maria Rivans, Bonnie and Clyde, Paul Minott, Plum Neasmith, Jane Emberson, Gordon Ellis Brown, and others. 23 Milsom Place; www.modernartbuyer.com

7 September – 1 October

JULIA COOPER: NEW PAINTINGS Paintings of kitchen still lifes, depicting simple bowls and jugs as a mode of studying juxtaposition of colour. Mon-Sat 10am-6pm (closed Weds & Sun), David Simon Contemporary; www.davidsimoncontemporary.com

LYNNE CARTLIDGE RCA: AUTUMN LIGHT Better known for her flower and still life studies, Cartlidge’s new body of work focuses on the quality and pattern of autumnal light in the city. Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Axle Arts; www.axlearts.com

PLAYS/SHOWS Until 15 September

GOD OF CARNAGE When Ferdinand hits Bruno in a playground punch-up and knocks out two of his teeth, the combatants’ enlightened parents decide to meet to talk things over in a civil manner. But once the niceties are done with and the drink starts flowing, it’s the adults who turn into spoiled brats in

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WHAT’S ON Yasmina Reza’s award-winning, ruthlessly comic study of middleclass parenting. Various times and prices, Main House, Theatre Royal Bath; www.theatreroyal.org.uk

18-29 September

THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM Opening in Bath immediately prior to the West End, Florian Zeller’s compelling family drama – a searing exploration of love, compassion and the fragility of life – stars Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins, two of the greatest British actors of their generation. Various times and prices, Main House, Theatre Royal Bath; www.theatreroyal.org.uk

26-29 September

ARCADIA Described as the “greatest play of our age” (The Independent), Tom Stoppard’s imperious tour de force dances back and forth across the centuries, exploring time, truth, love, literature – and the disruptive influence of sex on all other things we know about life. Presented by the award-winning Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society. 7.30pm, £10, Rondo Theatre; www.rondotheatre.co.uk


9 September

19 September

BILL RYDER-JONES Formerly guitarist with The Coral, now a fully-fledged troubadour under his own steam, with nods to Super Furry Animals, Richard Hawley and Noel Gallagher. 8pm, £15, Chapel Arts Centre; www.chapelarts.org

23 September

MA POLAINE’S GREAT DECLINE That’s the best moniker ever. This blues and roots duo, with Beth Packer’s beguiling voice described as “a young Billie Holiday gatecrashing a Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones recording session”, are destined for great things. Check out their wonderful album, The Outsider, released earlier this year. Free entry, The Bell; www.thebellinnbath.co.uk

28 September

THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE A melting pot of mariachi horns, bourbon-soaked blues, punkabilly and country, sounding, say Classic Rock mag, like “Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Dick Dale enjoying a burlesque all-nighter with Ennio Morricone.” So that’ll be one not to miss, then. 8pm, £12-£14, Chapel Arts Centre; www.chapelarts.org

JIMMY ALDRIDGE AND SID GOLDSMITH Marking the release of their third album, Many A Thousand, the duo flex their rousing vocal and instrumental chops. With a love of traditional and contemporary folksong and a mutual passion for the history carried in the music, it’s as authentic as folk gets. 8pm, £10, Chapel Arts Centre; www.chapelarts.org


15 September

20 September

JILK Bristol’s post-rock ambient collective unpack their lyrical and affirmative take on electronica – BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson is a fan. 7pm, from £8, Old Barn, Kelston Roundhill; www.komedia.co.uk

15 September

JAMES BLUNT The love-him-or-hate-him singer/ songwriter returns with latest album, The Afterlove, and, inevitably, that song. Various prices, gates open from noon, Bath Racecourse; www.bath-racecourse.co.uk 46 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

14 September

FRIDAY NIGHT COMEDY AT WALCOT HOUSE The best young new comedy talent from all over the country – this time, it’s James Alderson, Louis Burgess and President Obonjo – followed by live music and a DJ until late. 6-10pm, from £12, Walcot House; www.walcothousebath.com DYLAN MORAN Return of the BAFTA and Perrier Award-winning “Oscar Wilde of comedy” with his new tour, Dr Cosmos, looking at love, politics, misery and the everyday absurdities of life, delivered with typically deadpan panache. Doors 6.30pm, £25, Komedia Bath; www.komedia.co.uk

22 September

JAMALI MADDIX As seen on Live At The Apollo, the critically acclaimed comedian promises brutally honest and unflinching material on the state of

ABOVE: Gorgeous views on the Circuit of Bath charity walk LEFT: Bath on the Beach continues until the end of September BELOW: A typically striking poster by graphic artists Clifford and Rosemary Ellis – their work is on show at Victoria Art Gallery

WHAT’S ON society, along with personal tales of hate and moral confrontation from his travels around the world. 8pm, £12-14, Rondo Theatre; www.rondotheatre.co.uk

FAMILY 8 September

FROME AGRICULTURAL & CHEESE SHOW This action-packed family day out includes a newly built cheese pavilion (with over 1,500 cheese exhibits, a cheese auction, cheese bar and cookery theatre), plus livestock and equine displays, music stage, kids’ entertainment, food, shopping, a family dog show, country pursuits and a whole lot of other fun. Advance tickets: adult £13, child £5, family £31; On the gate entry: adult £16, child £5, family £36, West Woodlands Showground; www.fromecheeseshow.co.uk

23 September

CIRCUIT OF BATH WALK Now in its 17th year, this spectacular sponsored walk, traversing Bath’s bucolic surrounds, is one of Julian House’s most popular fundraising events, with over 500 people taking part last year. Entry is free. Various points in and around Bath; www.julianhouse.org.uk


Until 4 September

YOGA IN THE YURT Drop-in yoga and meditation classes, open to hotel guests, spa members and non-residents alike. Various classes/times, £12 (£10 for spa members), Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford on Avon; www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk

Until 10 September

MINERVA’S OWLS BATH SCULPTURE TRAIL A public sculpture trail of 100 owl sculptures and smaller owlets around the city. Each has a technological beacon, so you can find out about the owls as well as learn all about the various artists responsible for decorating them. Various locations around Bath; www.minervasowls.org

Until 30 September

BATH ON THE BEACH This Caribbean-style beach venue, recently opened in the city centre, is brought to us by the same team behind Bath On Ice. Have a ball with friends, kick back in hammocks and among palm trees, play all manner of

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sports (beach volleyball, adventure golf, table tennis and more), and enjoy tasty tropical food and colourful cocktails. Free to enter, 10am-10pm, Royal Victoria Park; www.bathonthebeach.co.uk

Until 31 October

RIDE AND DINE Get out and about on horseback in wonderful Wiltshire countryside. Work up an appetite with a ride before lunch, or work it off with one afterwards. The price includes a two-course lunch in The Brasserie at Lucknam and a one-hour ride, including equipment. Tues-Thurs, from £115, Lucknam Park; www.lucknampark.co.uk

9 September

DRAGON BOAT RACE Back after a hugely successful event last year – get a team together, have fun and raise money by paddling for charity. Or, with a whole day of racing to enjoy, just head along to cheer and watch the fun unfold. Bath Riverside; www.mountainway.org/bdbr2018

10 September

INSTAGRAM MASTERCLASS Another of Matt Inwood’s popular workshops, suitable for anyone who wants to up their Insta game. Suitable for all, but particularly those working in the food, drink and hospitality industries. Includes a two-course lunch. 10am-2pm, £95, Chequers, Bath; www.mattinwood.com

28 September

FUTURES 2018 Celebration of the cutting edge research taking place in universities across the region, as scientists, historians, psychologists, artists and philosophers imagine a future where anything is possible, with live experiments, interactive exhibitions, storytelling and art installations. Various Bath venues; www. go.bath.ac.uk/futures

29-30 September

HOOT FAREWELL WEEKEND At which all 82 decorated owl and owlet sculptures from the Minerva’s Owls of Bath trail will be displayed, alongside an exhibition of work by owl artists, owl decorating workshops, and a chance to meet real owls from The Owlery. Bath Recreation Ground; www.minervasowls.org n

ABOVE: The Urban Voodoo Machine, an in-yer-face riot of blues, punkabilly and country LEFT: Dorothy Brook’s ‘Rain Dance’ figure, from a show at Axle Arts BELOW: You’re Beautiful crooner James Blunt is coming to Bath Racecourse – resistance is futile


8th- 9th Sept 2018 10am - 5pm

The 2018 Combe Down Art Trail is a free event of workshops, demonstrations, and activities, as well as locally-made artwork, jewellery, print-work, sculptures and ceramics for sale. Leading you through the heart of this beautiful village, you’ll have the opportunity to visit artists’ homes and studios as well as local landmarks, such as The Museum of Bath Stone. You can reach Combe Down via the Number 2 bus, which runs from Bath Bus Station. Alternatively, there will be some parking available around the village and limited parking at the King William pub. For details on the event visit www.cdarttrail.com

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Hospitality is a notoriously tough business, but someone making it work better than most is Joe Cussens of The Bath Pub Company, who – with business partner Justin Sleath – runs four of the city’s best-known boozers. “We’re not doing anything particularly clever,” he says, “but we do try to be consistently good. Trouble is, that’s incredibly hard to deliver…” Words by Matt Bielby Portraits by Jesper Mattias www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 51



he Bath Pub Company’s quartet of boozers are all gastro to varying degrees. There’s the Marlborough Tavern, enjoying an enviable location near Victoria Park; The Chequers, as much restaurant as pub; The Locksbrook Inn, with acres of outdoor space by the river; and the Hare & Hounds, which boasts the most spectacular views. As with many down-from-London types, running pubs is Joe Cussens and Justin Sleath’s second career: Joe used to work at an advertising agency, handling accounts for the likes of Bentley and Sainsbury’s, while old school pal Justin was nearly, but not quite, a pro athlete. At a bit of a career crossroads, Joe found himself more and more drawn to Bath, where Justin was already working. The city’s cosmopolitan, outward-looking vibe didn’t feel like it would be too much of a culture shock after London, and the pair would find themselves playing at the Approach Golf Course, then retiring for a quick drink at a grubby, unloved pub nearby…

So, the first pub you bought was one you used to drink in, right? The Marlborough Tavern was pretty run down in 2006…

The first place we looked at was actually Opa, the Greek restaurant down on North Parade. We wanted to turn it into a cocktail bar, but it was too big a project. But the Marlborough ticked all the boxes: a nice location, a decent catchment area, but totally neglected. The plan was to recreate it in the style of London pubs I liked. You know: stripped back, no fruit machines – ten a penny in the capital 12 years ago, but quite rare here. We didn’t initially think of it as a gastro pub, just a good pub with a contemporary feel, but it quickly became clear that a gastro pub was what it needed to be. Again, not a groundbreaking offering, but we were one of the first to do it in Bath. I’ve never been cool or trendy in my life, but suddenly I was running a place considered ahead of its time.

Hence all those casual dining chains coming a cropper?

There’s definitely been over supply, with too many chains growing far too fast, powered by private equity funding. In some instance there’s been little more than blind faith driving the expansion model; it’s certainly not been to do with capacity in the marketplace. With some, they simply got found out. Jamie’s, for instance, started with a strong vision behind it, and a figurehead with real values, but that slowly got eroded away. In the end their meat supplier was Russell Hume, which got caught up in a big food safety scare – just not good enough for something like Jamie’s. When you start providing a substandard product, people vote with their feet and stop going.

The problem today is that it’s a great drinkers pub in summer, but as soon as winter comes – and you have to retreat inside – the tables are booked solid…

It’s one of our big challenges. I always say to the team that drinkers and diners are equally vital – although diners are far more important as far as turnover is concerned – because if it doesn’t feel like a place where people can just pop in to grab a beer, it’s going to lose atmosphere. Yes, it’s still possible to make pubs work without food at their core – but not that one. Could you ever imagine running a regular pub?

There’s actually a small trend for pubs to stop with the food, and go back to wet only. I was chatting to people running a city centre boozer in London, and another in Birmingham, and they’ve both done it – and say that, as soon as you take food out of the equation, it’s a piece of cake. With food, there are many more processes to go horribly wrong. There’s a shortage of chefs, too…

A chronic shortage. You add it all up, and food is a pain in the arse, really. It’s right on the verge of becoming just too difficult to deliver.

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“I’ve never been cool in my life, but suddenly I was running a place considered ahead of its time”

Yet we keep seeing new chains pop up to replace those that have fallen by the wayside…

In Bath particularly, right? There’s a conveyor belt of new openings here. The trick isn’t so much to make a big splash initially, but to last the course. People love The Ivy right now, but will they still be going in two or three years? Bath appeals to chains, as it has cache and lots of tourists – but what happens when it goes quiet over the winter? It’s still a fairly small place, and though the population has remained more or less static, there’s been an explosion in restaurants. Where’s everyone finding the staff who can afford to live and work here? We’ve doubled the number of kitchen positions in the city, so we’re increasingly relying on people travelling in from the surrounding towns. Where are they meant to park? How many buses are running after they finish on an evening? So, where do you think has got it right?

The Ivy is genuinely nice – they’ve got very deep pockets, and it’s a proper fit out. Though, that said, it wasn’t so long ago that I went to the launch of Burger & Lobster…

THE BIG INTERVIEW Yeah, what went wrong there?

The old Octagon Chapel off Milsom Street is a gorgeous space, but it’s just too large – and hidden away – for most businesses. We looked at it years ago, but to make something that size viable you need to be busy all the time, and there’s just not the footfall to guarantee that, especially when the main entrance is stuck around a corner. On top of that, there were specific problems with Burger & Lobster. They were so sure of themselves, but it was like The Emperor’s New Clothes – nobody told them it simply wasn’t going to work. Part of the issue is that it was a two-trick pony – you could have a burger or lobster – so you might go twice, but then you wouldn’t go again. In London that’s fair enough, as you’re never going to run out of potential customers. But in Bath? Is the shortage of chefs the biggest problem you face?

One of, and I can’t see it turning around. But there are ways you can cope. At somewhere like Pizza Express they’ve deskilled their kitchens – and because the offering is simple, they can still deliver good food at a decent price. But places like ours need skilled staff. My chefs tell me not enough people are prepared to put in the groundwork and really learn their trade. They’re impatient; they think they can become a head chef straight away. But in a proper kitchen you need to learn your sections to get equipped with the skills. And that must really matter at The Chequers…

We took that on four years after the Marlborough, but it was a tougher nut to crack. It has a fairly small footprint, it’s tucked away, and it’s very tricky to make it stack up commercially. And everyone used to eat slap-up Sunday lunches at The Chequers back in the ’90s, so they felt affectionate towards it. The Marlborough was very different: when we took it on it was properly dying on its arse, so everyone was pleased it had been saved and reinvented.

because part-time workers would prefer to be near the city centre. And the kitchen is in the oldest part of an old building, down higgledy-piggledy corridors. Most recently, you took over the old Dolphin by the river in Newbridge, renaming it The Locksbrook Inn.

And The Chequers was healthier than that…?

Not really. Back then there were a number of pubs at the top end of town, but they’ve all gone now – and The Chequers would have been one of them if we hadn’t done what we did. Even a small pub is expensive to run, and you need a proper amount of income. If The Chequers had remained just a community boozer, it wouldn’t have made the grade. We knew we had to make it so good that people would beat a path to its door; anything else wouldn’t work. So the food is very much towards the restaurant end of the spectrum. It means people don’t mind paying a quid or two more. And to a large extent that works; it certainly has a huge turnover, considering the size. But, because of its size, it’ll never take over the world. We can’t expand, and there’s no outside space; what we can do is make sure it’s busy through the week, not just at weekends – and that people get such an insanely good experience that they’ll be back for more. The Hare & Hounds doesn’t have size issues, though…

We took that on in 2012, and it was the right opportunity at the wrong time. It was another grubby, neglected pub in a gentle state of decline – but it was in a fantastic location. It turned out to be our biggest challenge, though, as it was in a properly poor state of repair. The basic principles were easy, though: clear away the clutter, get rid of the swirling carpets, reveal the best of what was already there. When we took it on, you could stand inside – or even outside – and not see the amazing view, because the grounds were so overgrown. Now we’ve got it how it should be, it lifts my spirits every day. It has its own unique challenges, though. Staffing is more tricky than at the other pubs, especially front of house,

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We’ve been there three years now. The Dolphin was busy, but just a drinker’s pub; the owners of the freehold wanted someone in there on a longer lease, and a food offering too. It’s still got more of a bar culture than most of our other pubs, though, because there’s space for it. Would things have happened differently if you’d started in Bristol, say, rather than Bath?

“It was another grubby, neglected pub, but it was in a fantastic location”

I don’t have as good a feel for Bristol, but it’s a different place: more edgy, more trendy, more of a mini London. And having a bigger population and cheaper rents means you can do more niche offerings. Is it any easier there? I sometimes wonder, as I know a number of people who’ve expanded from Bristol to Bath have struggled to make Bath stack up. Would you open another pub any time soon?

We’re tentatively exploring another site. We’ve good intuition on what’s viable, and we turn down pubs all the time. A lot of sites – sadly – are just too small. Community orientated places that would work back in the day often don’t any more, because people don’t frequent pubs the way they did 30 years ago. Just look at how many have shut and no-one really noticed. Near The Chequers we used to have The Dark Horse on Northampton Street, Ye Old Farmhouse, The Belvedere, The Beehive. Somewhere like St James Wine Vaults hangs on because it’s a great pub – it’s true to itself, has a nice little catchment area, and is a place everyone would be sad to see go. But does anyone really miss The Dark Horse? n For more: www.thebathpubcompany.com

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Child’s play Fresh insights into the travails of life during those difficult schoolgirl years

“Cue a rollercoaster summer of new friends and crosscultural confusion”


have no idea how children, particularly girls, manage to navigate the turbulent waters of friendships during their school years. It must be complicated enough just dealing with growing up, but throw in the politics of trying, or refusing, to fit-in and you have a minefield. Thankfully books, as ever, are on hand to reflect life and show their readers that they’re not the first to face such problems. Bath début novelist, and long-time supporter of the city’s bookshops, Tracy Darnton has written a snappy teen thriller that weaves together themes of friendship and memory. The Truth About Lies (Stripes, £7.99) is set at a boarding school on Dartmoor and introduces Jess, who is being counselled because her room-mate Hanna has recently died. She seems to be crying crocodile tears though, and is certainly not as upset as you might expect in the circumstances. This isn’t the only unusual thing about Jess. There’s also her memory. Since the age of eleven she has been able to remember every minute detail of her life, right down to the clothes she wore on a given day many years ago. This also makes her the ultimate grudgeholder and she becomes increasingly detached from her social-media-junkie school friends as she fails to hide her disdain for what she sees as their pointless creation of Facebook groups and vigils for Hanna. The Truth About Lies is fascinating in its portrayal of modern teenage friendship dynamics. But it’s the theme of memory that drives the plot as we soon learn that scientists have long been interested in Jess’ astonishing memory skills and that they’re keen to continue their research project with her, if only they can unpick her new identity and track her down. In Pages & Co. by Anna James (Harper Collins, £12.99), young Tilly is waking up on that blissful first day of the holidays. For her that means time to be spent at the bookshop, Pages & Co, which she lives above with her warm-hearted grandparents. Tilly is a bookworm and it soon becomes apparent that books have always been of great solace to her during a tricky childhood. Neither of her parents are around but Tilly is reluctant to quiz her grandparents about them, as the wounds of her mother’s sudden disappearance shortly after Tilly’s birth still seem raw for them.

Anna James has worked in and around books for many years and that comes through loud and clear. A couple of chapters into the story Tilly, and the reader, start to notice that new characters are making unexplained appearances. And some of those characters seem remarkably familiar. An auburn-haired girl called Anne (spelt with an e) appears on a bookshop sofa but then goes before Tilly has had a chance to say goodbye. Then Tilly overhears someone called Lizzy telling her grandmother about an insufferable wealthy man who’d just arrived in the neighbourhood. And someone else has been dropping marmalade sandwiches on the shop floor. The way these odd goings-on are drip-fed during the book’s early stages builds the air of magical mystery. But the book’s subtitle (Tilly and the Book Wanderers) has given a fair hint as to where we’re headed – and that’s deep into the books themselves from whence these unexpected new friends have come. Be Prepared! by Vera Brosgol (Roaring Brook, £9.99) is a superb quirky graphic novel drawn in olive and white tones which will be loved by Lumberjanes fans as well as newcomers to such outdoorsy comic book capers. Our schoolgirl heroine Vera has always sought close friendships, ever since she moved to America from Russia. But sleepovers never seem to play out as they might – what with her mum serving fizzy drinks made from rye bread to her bemused guests – so perhaps summer camp will be gateway to becoming one of the crowd. Russian summer camp in America, that is. Cue a rollercoaster summer of homesickness, new friends, fireside storytelling, camping fiasco and cross-cultural confusion. It comes as no surprise that the book is broadly based on the author’s own childhood memories, and the inclusion of the actual letters that she and her brother wrote home from Russian summer camp are a priceless way to bookend the story. Her brother’s is brief, to the point, and demonstrates precisely the trials of childhood summer – “Dear mom, could you pick me up as soon as you get this. PLEASE! I’m desperate.” Ouch! Nic Bottomley is the general manager of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, 14/15 John Street, Bath; 01225 331155; www.mrbsemporium.com

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ANNA O’CALLAGHAN THEATRE LEFT: Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce in The Height of the Storm ABOVE AND BELOW: Ralf Little in God of Carnage

French connection Bath’s new crossChannel love affair


ot so many years ago, the only French productions ever seen at the Theatre Royal Bath would be an occasional Feydeau farce. But come the autumn, we will be staging our third contemporary French play in five months. It’s an interesting volte-face. In May, Parisienne Yasmina Reza’s 1996 international hit and one of the most successful plays of all time, Art, returned to Bath. Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson played friends, one of whom has spent a ludicrous amount of money on an all-white modernist painting. The other two are totally baffled and have no qualms about making their feelings known. This was my fifth Art, and once again I found it thought-provoking and extremely funny. At the end of August, as part of this year’s Summer Season, a more recent work by the same writer will open in Bath, the multi award-winning God of Carnage. This tenth anniversary production boasts a superb cast of Elizabeth McGovern, best known as Downton Abbey’s Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham; Amanda Abbington, who plays Mary Morstan in the BBC’s Sherlock; The Royle Family’s Ralf Little; and Nigel Lindsay, who received an Olivier Award nomination for his lead role in Shrek, the Musical. They play the parents of two eleven year-old boys who arrange to meet for a civilised conversation after one boy

whacks the other in the mouth with a stick and breaks two of his teeth. But instead of a calm and rational debate about the need to teach kids how to behave, the evening turns into a hysterical alcohol-fuelled showdown of namecalling, tantrums and adults acting like spoiled brats. Again, it is a blisteringly funny piece. Following God of Carnage into the Main House will be The Height of the Storm, a new play by Florian Zeller. Not yet 40 and also born in Paris, Zeller has been described by The Guardian as “the most exciting playwright of our time”. The Theatre Royal has championed Zeller’s work in this country since October 2014 when his extraordinary play about a man with dementia, The Father, received its UK première in our Ustinov Studio before going on to become a Broadway sensation and winning a massively well-deserved Best Actor Olivier Award for its star, Kenneth Cranham. We also commissioned a translation of Zeller’s earlier piece, The Mother, which was staged at the Ustinov Studio in May 2015 starring Gina McKee, and his clever comedy about infidelity, The Truth, was co-produced by Theatre Royal Bath Productions and London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in May 2016. In his new work, The Height of the Storm, André and Madeleine are a longmarried couple whose lives are thrown off-track by an unexpected visitor. The roles are played by two giants of British theatre, multi award-winning star of stage and screen Jonathan Pryce and threetime Olivier award-winning Eileen Atkins.

A searing exploration of love, family and the fragility of life, the show will play Bath immediately prior to a West End run. All these works share a translator in Christopher Hampton, himself an acclaimed playwright (author of The Philanthropist, he won an Academy Award for the screenplay of his play Les Liaisons Dangereuses). I’m afraid I can’t claim to have read any of the scripts in their original French, but do know that his translations are sparkling and clear and full of flair. So what gives these plays such appeal beyond France to audiences internationally, and especially in the UK? Clearly actors find them irresistible, as they invariably attract wonderful casts. Like Feydeau’s farces, they are meticulously crafted. They are smart but not clever-clever, and I love the way they flow elegantly and effortlessly through humour to something more serious. All these plays are about subjects we can relate to – the complexities of relationships and family bonds; ordinary people put in awkward social situations. Accessible yet substantial, they have a finger on the pulse of modern life and, as an audience member, it is not hard to empathise with the characters and the situations they have been placed in. The characters are not French men and woman, they are simply men and women – but as for their writers, I say Vive la France! ■ Anna O’Callaghan, Marketing Manager, Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose; 01225 448844; www.theatreroyal.org.uk

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MACDONALD BATH SPA HOTEL The shortest of walks from the city centre, but feeling like it’s miles from anywhere, this hotel offers great food and genuine grandeur By Lisa Evans


hen your preprandial tipples are served beside a sun-dappled, adults-only outdoor pool while you’re clad in a swimsuit, lolling on a wicker lounger, you know it’s going to be a good day. The paving stones are so hot, guests participate in giggly tip-toe sprints every time they want a dip in the hydrotherapy pool, but apart from the odd titter – and around an hour’s worth of guttural snores from the chap next to us – the atmosphere is peaceful and wholly restorative within these expansive, landscaped grounds. We’re at the five-star Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, and after a hefty dose of vitamin D – which, might I add, was luxuriated in post-massage and post-facial – it’s time to drift down for dinner. It’s served in the most elegant of settings – the Vellore Restaurant, which used to be the magnificent ballroom of the original house – where chandeliers

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hanging from tall ceilings, pristine white table cloths, and an unobtrusive band of staff who check your expression for evidence of ‘want’, all add to the welcoming grandeur of the space. There are two separate menus to chose from: the à la carte offering – featuring the likes of mackerel with compressed cucumber and apple gel; and sea trout with chorizo, cassoulet and nut butter – and a house menu, presenting delights such as hake with caper and raisin purée; and belly pork with parsley mash and red wine jus. I choose stand-your-spoon-up-in-it-thick mushroom soup with croutons and a slick of truffle oil. Possibly the best soup I’ve tried, what it – and pretty much all other mushroom soups – lacks in glamour, the murky puddle of gorgeousness makes up for with intense savoury depths. The husband’s selection is smoked duck, which arrives in a carefully placed heap, decorated with compressed apple and dots of beetroot purée. Ever orthodox, he


follows this with a juicy sirloin steak, bronzed hand-cut chips, heat-crumpled tomatoes, and peppercorn sauce. My main, on the surface, looks like a bosky salad, but buried under drifts of foliage lie many elements – roasted, spindly heritage carrots, as long as the plate; meaty lentils; creamed leeks; white bean purée – with the star of the show being the confit white onion tart, its golden, crumbling pastry shell filled with a soft-sweet stew of tangled, buttery, fleshy onions. And then dessert. All of them are a variation on something soft and light – a posset, a parfait, a panna cotta – but each come with interesting additions: crystallised cocoa pops adorn dark chocolate mousse, lemon posset comes crowned with shortbread nuggets and candied zest, and vanilla panna cotta is served with a compote of sweet hedgerow fruits and plump pillows of meringue. Talking of pillows, if you feel inclined to stay the night, the hotel has 131 rooms, each one luxuriously furnished, with a sumptuous booty of Elemis minis to choose from. And booking a room means complimentary access to the substantial spa, with its treatment rooms, gym, whirlpool, thermal suite, and two pools in which you can front-crawl off some of the past 24-hour excesses. Although sunny season will soon be scarpering, don’t despair, as the lovely news is that the outdoor thermal pool is the temperature of a bath – not to sound like a typical Brit, but, if anything, plunging into this water on a warm day is too hot – so an autumn dunk would probably be more apt, anyway. And, bonus, you won’t have to listen to the turbulent airflow vibrating through anyone’s nostrils on your visit – hopefully. n

“Possibly the best soup I’ve tried, with intense savoury depths” DINING DETAILS Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, Sydney Road, Bath, BA2 6NS; 0344 879 9106; www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk In a nutshell It’s a five-star luxurious hotel and spa retreat, serving high-end food from its Vellore Restaurant We ate Mushroom soup, smoked duck, steak, onion tart, panna cotta, and parfait Prices From the house menu, two courses are £35, or three courses are £40; and from the à la carte menu, starters are £7 – £12; mains are £18 – £65, and desserts are £9 – £12. Hotel room rates start from £119, and spa treatments start from £15 Vegetarian / vegan One option per course offered on each menu Drinks An impressive wine list Service / atmosphere Engaging and considerate / relaxing and sophisticated What else? Expect Elemis treatments and a rejuvenating spa experience Good to know It’s only a 15-minute walk from the centre of Bath

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FOOD & DRINK been non-stop ever since, with requests for more! You strive to connect with like-minded creative souls in the main, so who have you collaborated with? A broad range – it keeps evolving. My first creative collaborators were Nicole De Villiers from Blomme florists; fine art painter, Jamie Graziano; Sarah McGlynn from Dot The i Calligraphy & Design; and Suzy Slemen Photography. Always Supper Club founder, Lexi Learmond; INSET: Bringing the outside in

TAKE 5 Always Sunday House is all about taking supper clubs to the next level – and then some. But it’s not just about the food, as founder Lexi Learmond explains Interview by Velimir Ilic Photos by Suzy Slemen From her Georgian home in Bath, Lexi Learmond and various collaborators work together under the umbrella of Always Sunday House, putting on unique supper clubs, workshops and performances to showcase their collective creative and artistic talents. Lexi, herself an artist, tells us more…

How did Always Sunday House start? Well, I grew up in the USA, but ended up in Bath, in the house we now call home to not only my family, but also to the creative collaborators of Always Sunday House. It started from an idea

that evolved when I graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art. Trying to promote your own work and making connections with other creatives is intimidating, but the concept of doing it in an actual home feels organic and natural. What specifically inspired the supper clubs? I have often thrown dinner parties and always found it rewarding to see the connections between my guests. I literally buzz while planning the events and laying the table, so it became a natural next step for something I love to do anyway! The events launched back in May this year and it’s

What’s your food ethos? I became an occasional pescatarian, but mostly vegetarian, well over a year ago. It changed my cooking completely and has opened my eyes to so many more flavourful options than just using meat. My ethos is feeling good – feeling energised – after you eat. I try to use as much of the food that Karen Knowlton from Garden Goddess grows for us in the house garden to keep it full of nutrients. What kind of people are we likely to sit next to at one of your events? Honestly, you just never know – we attract all sorts. Some are creative professionals, but some are just those who appreciate the arts and have an aesthetic similar to my own. There is never a shortage of conversation! To your mind, what sets the supper clubs apart? Every supper has a different theme, often inspired by the seasons. The launch was an ‘outdoor to indoor’ theme that was expressed by bringing outdoor furniture such as garden arches and urns inside, alongside moss down the table. General food influences? My food influences come seasonally and by what feels appropriate for a family-style vegetarian feast. I like to think of things that will encourage my guests to break bread together.

Signature dishes? Regular welcome nibbles are homemade pizza flatbreads with an ever-changing range of toppings, baked fresh in our own pizza oven in front of our guests. Mains have ranged from Sicilian spinach ricotta pasta parcels to summer caponata, and one of our favourite summer puddings is a homemade lemon sorbet. What’s your food background? I’m a self-taught home cook who has been making food for family and friends for years. With a passion for learning and eating well, I’ve slowly found my way! What do you enjoy most about hosting? Meeting the guests. Sharing my passions while I watch them discover things they have in common with others fills me with absolute joy. I regularly hear how much my guests loved connecting with new people who they never would have met otherwise! You have a ‘seasonal spice vegetarian feast’ coming up on 21-22 September – what can we expect from that? Exceptional table displays and styling in deep autumnal colours, with a memorable feast to match from chef Micah Edelstein, inspired by her world travels, whilst listening to Harry Miller’s live acoustic songs. And there will be art on display alongside vintage finds and treasures sourced by Rare and Racy Portobello and Lizzie Bennet Loves Vintage. Future plans? There’s a roaring 1920s soirée in October that involves the Old Bag Theatre Company performing a play written just for our guests, as they are spooked, shocked and entertained like never before. And our private parties and bookings have been rolling in for the Christmas season – I’m already plotting our decor for the house! Tell us a secret… Almost everything you see is for sale, from the plates to the art on the walls, and we feature new items at every single event. www.alwaysunday.co.uk, Insta: @always_sunday_house

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Arguably Bath and Bristol’s best and most modern Indian restaurants with great cocktails and refined and flavoursome cooking. Our tempting Sunday Brunch is now served at our Bath site.

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS 2018 Christmas at Ston Easton Park is a feast for all the senses. Whether you are in need of a quiet, relaxing break, seeking a venue to entertain friends and colleagues or in search of a decadent treat, our gift to you is the very finest cuisine along with attentive yet unobtrusive service, wrapped up in a stunning 18th century Palladian mansion. Ston Easton Park could have been purpose built for Christmas. The beautifully proportioned rooms, open log fires and spectacular festive decorations and Christmas trees come together to create the perfect atmosphere for a traditional Christmas house party. Join us for a two or three day festive break, we’ll take all the strain out of the arrangements and provide you with the relaxing escape you deserve. VOUCHERS ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR WEBSITE OR DIRECTLY. AN IDEAL CHRISTMAS GIFT!

Piper Heidsieck Rooftop Champagne Bar Now Open at Our Bath Restaurant 12-16 Clifton Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1AF Tel: 01173 291300 Longmead Gospel Hall, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA2 3EB Tel: 01225 446656 Email: info@themintroom.co.uk www.themintroom.co.uk




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The best afternoon teas in Bath and surrounds, in a nutshell – by the very tearooms, restaurants and hotels that serve them

Interviews by Katie Kissoon

When they’re scone, they’re scone – indulgent treats at The Ivy Bath Brasserie

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here’s nothing more quintessentially English – or Bathonian, for that matter – than afternoon tea (scones, jam, cream, dainty finger sandwiches, champers – what could be finer?), and round these parts, we’re genuinely spoilt for choice, whether you fancy a quick cuppa and a bit of cake, or the full works with all the trimmings. But rather than us banging on, here’s the lowdown straight from the horse’s mouth, as local restaurants, tea-houses and hotels tell us about their unique take on this time-honoured institution…


What’s the vibe there? “Relaxed luxury,

as if you’re a guest in someone’s home,” says general manager, Paola Cassotti. “Privately owned by Andrew and Christina Brownsword, The Bath Priory’s luxurious lounges feature their private art collection. On warmer days, guests can enjoy the terrace, which is draped in beautiful wisteria.” Afternoon tea inspiration? “Like the hotel’s Georgian-style exterior, the style is quintessentially British, with classic finger sandwiches, homemade cakes and warm scones with homemade jam – consistently reported as the best in Bath!”

What’s new? “Fabulous strawberry tarts, with homegrown strawberries.” For something a little different, what would you recommend? “Our own-recipe

cocktails, such as the Gin Thyme Spritz with homemade thyme cordial – really refreshing and light.” What sets you apart? “Our award-winning gardens – four acres of stunning and peaceful outdoor space to truly relax in.” Surprise us... “In our secret kitchen garden, we grow all sorts of fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Although we claim it is ‘secret’, guests who go for a wander can easily stumble across it, and we are always happy for them to taste straight from the beds.” Weston Road, Bath BA1 2XT; Tel: 01225 331922; www.thebathpriory.co.uk


What’s the vibe there? “On warm days,

many choose to take afternoon tea al fresco on the terrace, overlooking the lake and woodlands,” says general manager, Jeff Condliffe. “In Autumn/Winter, tea is served in the cosy corners of our library or in front of an open log fire. For a more formal service, the Shelburne Restaurant provides a peaceful yet relaxing setting.” Afternoon tea inspiration? “A tasteful nod to tradition with a contemporary twist. Sandwiches include cucumber and cream cheese, and smoked salmon with lemon

Tracy Park Hotel also boasts two championship golf courses, if you fancy a quick round after tea

crème fraîche, served alongside homemade scones with jam and clotted cream, and freshly-prepared cakes and sweet treats, such as macarons. And there’s prosecco or champagne, of course, for those who like to add a little sparkle to their afternoon.” Must-try? “Our chef Scott’s aunty’s fruit cake – utterly delicious!” What sets you apart? “Our contemporary hotel combined with its quintessential countryside surroundings.” Any famous visitors? “We recently had a visit from the BBC’s Countryfile, who filmed in the library. We’re very excited to see the footage when it airs.” Surprise us... “The Marchioness of Lansdowne, a talented interior designer, handpicked every single book in the library.” Bowood, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 9PQ; Tel: 01249 822228; www.bowood.org


What’s the vibe there? “We are direct

trade loose leaf tea specialists, so our decor reflects that,” says Rob Comins, co-owner of Comins Tea with his wife, Michelle. “Our teahouse is inspired by Japan, China and the other countries we source tea from, so we keep it uncluttered with lots of natural wood,

Bath Priory’s terrace overlooks four acres of stunning gardens

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“We have around 45 specialist teas – customers can choose one to go with savoury food, and one with sweet”

space and light. We don’t play music, which contributes to the teahouse being the tranquil space it should be.” Afternoon tea inspiration? “We’re specialist tea merchants, with a list of around 45 teas – customers choose one to go with savoury food and one with sweet, with all food made in-house.” Must-try? “Our matcha cookies really are developing quite a following, along with our gyoza.” For something a little different, what would you recommend? “Try a Dong Ding

Savoury tartines at Comins Tea

(real name!) oolong with the savoury part of the meal. This tea is served in a very different style to the normal pot and complements the food exceptionally well.” What’s new? “We are hosting a Japanese tea expert in the teahouse in a few months. Think tastings, ceremonies and an insight into the fascinating culture of Japanese tea.” What sets you apart? “Our emphasis is on creating an experience. We serve all our teas using methods that would be used in their home countries.” Any famous visitors? “We’re next to the Ustinov on Monmouth Street, so we are lucky enough to have many of the performers coming in.” Surprise us... “In travelling to source our tea, we have met many of the top people in the tea industry for many countries. This may not be exciting to everybody, but it is for us!” 34 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2AN; Tel: 01258 475389; www.cominstea.com


What’s the vibe there? “Fresh, friendly and

relaxed,” says Jonathan Norie from Benugo, who run the museum’s Garden Café. Food inspiration? “Modern British with a sprinkling of European.” Must-try? “The Caprese salad, or the burgers – they’re amazing, if a little naughty.” What sets you apart? “The view from the patio and access to Sydney Gardens. Have a bite to eat then take your dog for a stroll!” Surprise us... “Our Garden Café won the ‘best UK restaurant in another space’ category at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards.” Great Pulteney Street, Bath, BA2 4DB; Tel: 01225 388569, www.holburne.org

THE IVY BATH BRASSERIE What’s the vibe there? “Relaxed, yet

Eat al fresco at the Holburne Museum

sophisticated,” says general manager, Katja Kammerer. “We want our guests to feel that they can pop in at any time of day, no matter what the occasion.” Afternoon tea inspiration? “Everything from our Bath buns, with clotted cream, jam and fresh strawberries, to our champagne afternoon tea. Savoury bites include a truffled chicken brioche roll, marinated cucumber and dill finger sandwiches, and smoked salmon on dark rye-style bread with cream cheese and chives. For sweet tooths, we have warm

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FOOD & DRINK fruited scones with Dorset clotted cream and strawberry preserve, raspberry cheesecake, chocolate and salted caramel mousse, and crème brûlée doughnuts.” What’s new? “We’ll be celebrating our first birthday in September/October with an exciting collaboration with Jo Malone London. The restaurant façade will be dressed with beautiful flowers inspired by their new fragrance, Honeysuckle & Davana, and we’ll also be offering a bespoke cocktail, the Honeysuckle Daquiri.” What sets you apart? “Our service – our food is always served with a smile. We also have a beautiful ‘hidden’ al fresco terrace – very enjoyable on warmer days.” Surprise us... “We still have a vault in our basement from the days when the building used to be a bank.” 39 Milsom Street, Bath BA1 1DS; Tel: 01225 307100; www.theivybathbrasserie.com


All-day dining at The Ivy Bath Brasserie? Don’t mind if we do...

What’s the vibe there? “Elegance, charm

and country house living at its very best,” says Silmiya Hendricks, director of sales and marketing. “A lot of our guests are celebrating a special occasion and we want them to feel at home in our beautiful historic building, with antique furnishings and delicious food.” Afternoon tea inspiration? “Traditional with a twist, in keeping with the 18th century country house setting.” Must-try? “The lemon meringue choux are a favourite with many guests – a soft and indulgent centre with meringue perfectly whipped on top.”

For something a little different, what would you recommend? “For a really special

day out, join us for a horse ride in the 500 acres before your afternoon tea. We are very lucky to have 35 beautiful horses for all capabilities at our equestrian centre.” What’s new? “It’s been 30 years since the hotel opened, so to mark that we have an upcoming recipe book which will celebrate fine cuisine and Lucknam Park’s journey so far.” What sets you apart? “Attention to detail finding out guests’ likes and dislikes in advance, or what they’ll be celebrating, to make their experience as memorable as possible.” Surprise us... “Over 20,000 daffodils are planted at Lucknam each year to line our milelong driveway.” Colerne, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 8AZ; Tel: 01225 742777; www.lucknampark.co.uk

“For sweet tooths, we have chocolate and salted caramel mousse, and crème brûlée doughnuts” 70 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

Lucknam Park: Sweet and savoury indulgence







www.centurionhotel.co.uk @seanhorwood


Best Western Plus Centurion Hotel, Charlton Lane, Midsomer Norton, Nr Bath BA3 4BD | 01761 417711


What’s the vibe there? “Fun, relaxed,

inspiring and creative,” says MD, Jonathan Walker. “There’s well-thought out music and intriguing art tailored to each space, whether you’re enjoying afternoon tea in the elegant sitting room, Pulteney Room or The Dispensary.” Afternoon tea inspiration? “Classic, with a few No.15 twists, from chorizo sausage rolls to red almond-dusted battenberg and a raspberry mogador tower, alongside freshly-baked fruit and plain scones with berry jam, lemon curd and clotted cream.” For something a little different, what would you recommend? “One of our

much-loved cocktails – a Fresh and Wild, with Hendrick’s gin, lillet, basil syrup and cucumber and watermelon tonic, comes highly recommended.” What’s new? “We have a new head chef, Fraser Scott, who has exciting new plans in the pipeline. Look out for our special festive afternoon tea menu, which is due to land at the start of December.” What sets you apart? “Afternoon tea is served on bespoke wrought iron tree stands complete with hand-blown glass fruit finials – it adds a real ‘wow’ factor. And we always go back and offer more sandwiches and savoury items, which guests love.” Any famous/special/celeb visitors?

“Musicians, Hollywood actors, celebrity chefs, literary luminaries... sadly, though, we can’t name names.” Surprise us... “There are more than 1,000 lone earrings adorning the lost earring chandelier in the sitting room.” 15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4BR; Tel: 01225 685275; www.no15greatpulteney.co.uk


What’s the vibe there? “Five-star service in

relaxing, modern and elegant surroundings,” says the Royal Crescent’s marketing manager, Sarah Moon. Afternoon tea inspiration? “Classic, delicious treats with a perfect, modern twist!” Must-try? “Our Bath buns. They are made in traditional style with a whole brown sugar cube in the centre. Or, for savoury, try the Bath chap beignet with pickled radish and smoked rapeseed mayonnaise – melt in the mouth and totally moreish.” For something a little different, what would you recommend? “Partner your

afternoon tea with a champagne or cocktail (gin, vodka or rum) flight – perfect for a midafternoon treat.” What sets you apart? “Guests can sit in an acre of secluded gardens, located in the middle of a landmark building. Coupled with our fivestar service and award-winning food, it makes for a spectacularly memorable and hugely enjoyable afternoon.” Surprise us... “Bath’s original socialite, Elizabeth Montagu, used to hold ‘Blue

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Bowood Hotel offers a “tasteful nod to tradition, with a contemporary twist”

Happy guests at No.15 Great Pulteney

FOOD & DRINK Stockings Society’ literary meetings at 16 Royal Crescent (the main mansion building of the hotel) in the 18th century.” 16 Royal Crescent, Bath BA1 2LS; Tel: 01225 823333, www.royalcrescent.co.uk


What’s the vibe there? “A relaxed home-

from-home feel with rural elegance and high standards of service,” says Tracy Park’s Leanne Kesterton. Afternoon tea inspiration? “An elegant twist on traditional classics – our head chef loves to use colour in his presentation.” What sets you apart? “The venue is set amongst two championship-standard 18-hole golf courses. And we pride ourselves on building relationships with everyone that walks through our door.” Surprise us... “Tracy Park was the inspiration for Birtwick Park in Black Beauty, the 1877 novel written by Anna Sewell, who lived nearby.” Bath Road, Wick BS30 5RN; Tel: 0117 937 1800; www.tracypark.co.uk


What’s the vibe there? “Elegant and

relaxed, with a unique style,” says head sommelier, Daniel Davies. Afternoon tea inspiration? “Classic patisserie with an innovative twist.” Must-try? “Our sausage rolls, made with the lightest puff pastry.” For something a little different, what would you recommend?

“The current tea of the month, a selection of Darjeeling from Deepali’s Terroir. They only source biodynamic single estate, high-grown tea from India.” What’s new? “The opening of our Garden Room for afternoon tea.” Tea at the Woolley Grange, a “relaxed home-from-home”

Elegance and luxury abound at Whatley Manor

“Nothing is too much trouble for our warm, friendly staff – take your time and enjoy being pampered”

What sets you apart? “Attentive service,

speciality teas, great coffee, exquisite pastries and cakes, served in a stunning setting.” Surprise us... “Natalia Phillips, who looks after our afternoon tea service, is a certified tea sommelier.” Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0RB; Tel: 01666 822888; www.whatleymanor.com

WOOLLEY GRANGE HOTEL What’s the vibe there? “A relaxed ‘home

from home’ atmosphere in our comfortable Jacobean manor,” says marketing manager, Caroline Mackay.

What does your afternoon tea comprise of? “White bone china, finest loose leaf tea,

and fresh, home-baked scones and cakes.”

For something a little different, what would you recommend? “Build up your

appetite with a stroll around our Victorian walled garden and 14-acre grounds.” What’s new? “This autumn, we are running some lovely art workshops (‘Drawing from nature’ on 13 September, and ‘Drawing and painting apples’ on 4 October, £35 each), led by talented art tutor, Mandy Mills. They include a two-hour workshop, all materials, your own piece of art to take home – and a full afternoon tea.” What sets you apart? “Nothing is too much trouble for our warm, friendly staff. Take your time and enjoy being pampered!” Surprise us... “Woolley Grange has recently started a weekly garden basket scheme for people living in Bath and surrounds. For £20, you collect a weekly basket of fruit, vegetables and flowers, all freshly grown (most of it at Woolley) – enough to feed a family of four or two hungry adults! Email thepottingshed@ woolleygrangehotel.co.uk for more info.” Woolley Green, Bradford on Avon BA15 1TX; Tel: 01225 864705; www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk

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Stacked Stanton Minimal, from £495; Derelict Design, www. derelictdesign.co.uk


Derelict Design of Willsbridge – between Bath and Bristol, not too far from Longwell Green – makes solid, affordable coffee tables and TV stands, writing desks and open storage cabinets, all with an ever-attractive mid-century modern aesthetic. Think authentic materials, clean lines, an exposed structure, and a total lack of frills; furniture that looks so light, it almost floats above the floor rather than squats upon it. Prices start at under £300 and rise to over £600, making these pieces as affordable as they are tempting; the one you see here is called – deep breath – the Stacked Stanton Minimal With High Upper Section Open Storage, and would make the perfect home for your Rega turntable and a choice selection of vinyl, plus maybe a copy of Bath Life and a spiky plant or two. www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 75

SET OF 7 JANE AUSTEN NOVELS, £100 All her major works in a clothbound set from Penguin; the central Love & Friendship volume contains the novella Lady Susan, plus assorted early works From Bath Visitor Information Centre Gift Shop, Bridgwater House, 2 Terrace Walk, Bath; www.visitbath.co.uk


JANE AUSTEN JEWELLERY, FROM £12 - £30 Saltford-based designer Helen Coombe makes jewellery out of old book pages; buy online or at the Jane Austen Centre or Roman Baths Gift Shop From Glamorous Glue Designs; www.etsy.com/shop/ glamorousgluedesigns

From 14-23 September we’ve 10 days of Jane Austen Festival, celebrating the writer in Bath

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE NOTEBOOK, £8.99 The foil peacocks on the cover represent the pride of Darcy (and of Lizzy too, of course); inside you get 200 pages to note down all your prejudices, too From The Story Gift; www.thestorygift.co.uk

JANE AUSTEN GREETINGS CARDS, £3.50 One of a selection of illustrations by Bath-based artist Donna-Marie Scrase, and stocked across the city From Studio Scrase, available at Waterstones, Rossiters and elsewhere; www.studioscrase.com

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JANE AUSTEN BOOKMARKS, £1.50 The perfect companion for when you’re re-reading Emma for the umpteenth time From The English Tea Garden; www.TheEnglishTeaGarden.etsy.com

ED’S CHOICE A4 JANE AUSTEN PRINT IN 30X40CM MOUNTED FRAME, £18 Bath-based artist Frances Land takes inspiration from JA for her prints and greeting cards From The English Tea Garden, www. TheEnglishTeaGarden. etsy.com

LIMITED EDITION JANE AUSTEN PRINT, £70 You can get this punchy Jane on a limited edition T-shirt (£22) or as a signed Giclée in various sizes From Jason Dorley Brown; www.jasondorleybrown.com

JANE AUSTEN TOP TRUMPS, £6.50 This limited edition Top Trumps game is exclusive to The Jane Austen Centre (and comes with an exclusive card too). Now let’s see: Darcy is best at ‘brooding’, but easily beaten if the other player picks ‘bonnets’… From The Jane Austen Centre, 40 Gay Street, Bath; www.janeausten.co.uk

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE CANDLE, £13.85 What does a combination of ‘pride’ and ‘prejudice’ smell like? Turns out it’s a sort of medium-strength white jasmine thing… From The Story Gift; www.thestorygift.co.uk

BATH GIN 70CL, £36.50 Pretty bottles and highly more-ish mother’s ruin from Bath’s first distillery in 250 years; comes in an intriguing hopped rhubarb version too From The Bath Gin Company; www.thebathgincompany.co.uk

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A LOVE LIKE BLOOD Is any colour more kick-ass? Red is life’s intensifier, making lips more kissable, legs more striking; it’s a visual slap in the face that dares you to look again. Better to be dead than to ignore red, we say – especially as it’s surprisingly easy to wear

By Clarissa Picot


he eye loves the colour red, of course. We’re hard-wired to respond to it. It says sex, it says danger, it says passion, all like no other colour. Revolutions muster under its flag; racing cars take pole position coated in scarlet paint; warning signs – stop! Watch out! Stay away! – marshal red’s power. It’s the colour of blood and the devil; fire and roses; lust and violence. Football teams that wear it are said to have an almost unfair advantage, so dynamic and aggressive is red. And in civilian life, too, red is not to be ignored. From The Red Shoes to Little Red Riding Hood, the sole of a Louboutin pump to the soul of Jessica Rabbit, red speaks of beating hearts and pulsing blood, a woman who’s not necessarily bad – but is certainly drawn that way. All potentially quite combustible, then, and – like anything a little bit dangerous – red certainly needs to be approached with caution. You cannot fade into the background while wearing red, but it’s your ally when you’ve got a job to do, and want to do it well. (When, indeed, you want to give the other fella hell.) For a first date, a key presentation, an important speech, or to face down a potential enemy, red is your friend. This issue, we’ve picked some of our favourite red pieces from Bath’s boutiques. While we’re not advocating top-to-tail red more than a couple of times a year – unless you’ve the confidence to pull it off, of course, in which case we salute you – a single red piece adds punch to an otherwise neutral outfit, and the range of shades available, from orangey tomato hues to wine-rich burgundies, means you can practice with the training wheels on before going the whole vivid, vivacious hog.

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Lots of red in the Autumn/Winter collection by Baum und Pferdgarten, stocked at Grace & Mabel












1. Samsoe & Samsoe Adelaide dress in flame scarlet, £110, Maze; www.mazeclothing.co.uk 2. Ria leather crossbody bag, £128, Anthropologie; www.anthropologie.com 3. Tif Tiffy batwing jumper, £95, Blue at The Loft; www.theloftbath.com 4. Painted silk shirt, £295, Carole Waller; www.carolewaller.co.uk 5. Cashmere skinny rib cardigan, £319, Brora; www.brora.co.uk 6. Dreamcatcher necklace, £25.20, Szupa; www.etsy. com/uk/shop/Szupa 7. Leather clutch, £45, Nickie Portman; www.nickieportman.co.uk 8. Sarita skirt by Baum und Pferdgarten, £159, Grace & Mabel; graceandmabel.co.uk 9. Ruby coral crystal branch earrings, £135, Alexander May; www.alexandramay.com 10. Edison suede boots, £150, Duo Boots; duoboots.com 10

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Superb Quality Clothes Care Excellent Value 2 Suits Dry Cleaned for ÂŁ20 Van service available

6 Monmouth Place, Bath BA1 2AU Tel 01225 311595 Parent Company established in 1975


Meet the tailor

Need a sharp suit? These are the guys who can help! BEN AYDIN




25 Milsom Street; 01225 920263 www.citytailors.co.uk

0800 011 2450 www.suitthecity.com

When did you become a tailor and how did you learn it? I have been in the fashion industry from a young age. Over the years I have worked on most types of garments for both ladies and gents. For the past 15 years I have been learning bespoke tailoring from my mentor, John Verger, who has now retired after 60 years. Why should I buy a suit from you? We make bespoke traditional English suits, tailored using top quality cloth from British fabric suppliers such as Holland & Sherry and Dugdale. Our jackets are full canvas and have handmade chest lapels and collars which are hand-shaped to achieve the best possible fit.   What the difference is between bespoke and made to measure suits? Made-to-measure garments are constructed to fit each customer individually based on body measurements to customize the pre-existing pattern. The garments always involve some form of standardisation in the pattern and manufacturing, whereas bespoke tailoring is made entirely from scratch, based on a customer’s specifications and body shape. There is far more attention to detail and there are multiple fittings during the construction process to achieve the best possible fit.

What are the advantages to a tailor-made suit? First of all, it will fit. Not only are your measurements used, but also your figurations. These are the details of your body type that are unique to you, and make the suit look and feel special to wear. You also have a say in the styling, fabric and detailing so it will be totally personalised to you. Lastly it will last longer as the construction is of better quality than off the peg.

Ben Aydin

What is the best way to look after my new suit? Only dry clean when it really needs it. The chemicals destroy the goodness of the wool. Just spot clean it with water and hang in a hot shower room to let creases fall out.

Mike Lane

How do I know what fabric to choose? Colour is usually the first consideration, but then it is important for me to understand your budget, and whether the suit is for work or a one-off for special occasions. I can then offer fabrics that meet the requirement of weight, durability and of course price. We have something for everyone.


www.xotailoringservices.com 07958 466688 Why should I buy a suit from you? We only sell genuine Italian suits and they are all made in Milan at the “Officina Tessile” tailoring studio so not only are they stylish, but are also great quality. How long do your suits take to make? The whole process takes three to four weeks. What is the process? You will need to come in so that we can take your measurements and discuss your requirements. We then send all the information to our head office in Milan so that they can start working on your suit.

Gianluca Marchesini

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What are the advantages to a tailor-made suit? Quality, attention to detail, uniqueness, exclusivity and personalisation to name a few! It also will be of higher quality than an off the

peg suit and will therefore last longer. Think of it as an investment. What’s the best way to look after my new suit? Dry clean it to keep it looking sharp! What is the difference between bespoke, made to measure and ready to wear? Bespoke means there is a final fitting before the suit is finished, made-to-measure can just be sent to the customer after the suit has been made from the measurements provided and ready to wear is a suit that has already been made and can be paid for and taken home the same day. What questions should I ask a tailor? Always ask about the style of the suit and ask to see a sample so that you can have an idea of what the finished product will look like. We make a traditional Italian style. Is there a choice of fabrics? Yes! We have samples of around 200 different cloths in the shop for you to choose from.



CHAPS – please send us your old preloved clothing and accessories: we will sell them on a 50/50 basis

37 Silver St, Bradford on Avon

T: 01225 684688

Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm 3 High Street, Devizes SN10 1AT 01380 729933 info@spiritfashion.co.uk www.spiritfashion.co.uk


The heat might have retreated a little just now, but if long, hot summers like we’ve recently enjoyed are to become part of the new normal, the Mediterranean garden will start to look more attractive than ever

Words by Nick Woodhouse, Pictures by Jason Harris & Nick Woodhouse


s the summer draws its last wonderful breath, we don’t only herald the beginning of a new season, but also reflect back on what those warmer days can do to our souls. Memories of holidays are fresh in our minds as we close our eyes and remember those heady scents, those vivid colours. It’s times like these that we often begin to wonder if those Mediterranean moments can be recreated here in our outdoor spaces. In Bath we are very lucky to have the warm, honey tones of our local limestone that seems to effortlessly complement planting from that very region. Our Georgian architecture, too, seems to have a natural affinity with the more formal cypresses and statuary so synonymous with Italianate gardens. And our summers are

itself covers a large expanse so, as might be expected, there are varying styles of garden within the region. The two really prominent styles, however, are Moorish and that of the Italian Renaissance. The former came first to Spain, with the arrival of the Moors, and took inspiration from the gardens of ancient Persia. The 13thcentury gardens of the Alhambra are the epitome of such a garden; stone, water and rows of cypress providing the key elements. Water was rare and precious, so carefully managed; springs, pipes and canal systems helped to capture and distribute it to great effect. Such gardens tend to use this water to divide the space into four, representing the four Rivers of Life. This was balanced by cool shade, fragrance and birdsong; an earthly manifestation of the Paradise Garden described in both the Koran and the book of Genesis. The Italian Renaissance style, on the other hand, is far more theatrical and formal. Statues, topiary, ornate balustrades and wide flights of steps combine with fountains and basins that form focal points demanding to be admired. These were labour-intensive gardens that reflected the owner’s wealth and influence, and the popularity of this style spread gradually northwards following the Renaissance, most notably to Versailles and, later, closer to home at Powis Castle. Contemporary Mediterranean gardens tend to be less maintenance heavy, which might go some way towards explain their growing influence here. What is imperative to make them work, though, is a sheltered, sunny spot and soil that is free-draining. Once you have chosen the right location, the outlay will initially be that bit more costly than it might be for another style of garden. Tiles, paving and gravel take the place of lawn, traditionally withstanding the sun better, reflecting both its heat and its light. They also provide the generous space needed for outdoor

“Mediterranean gardens rely on the architectural for effect” just warm enough to allow us to grow a range of Mediterranean plants in our gardens; think cistus, euphorbia and artemisia, for instance. Our British sensibilities will often lead us to try and mix many different types of plants: consider the quintessentially English herbaceous border. Mediterranean gardens, however, rely more on the architectural for their effect. Walls, paths and steps combine with statuary and water, their extent depending largely on the space’s size and function. Smaller courtyards will often feature tiled surfaces, the calming flow of water from a fountain, and dappled shade offered by overhead vines. Larger terraced slopes might have a wilder feel, with drifts of rosemary or a collection of cacti or succulents. Whatever their size, these gardens have evolved over the centuries to meet two key needs: shade for us, and water for the plants themselves. The Mediterranean basin

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dining, so key to the Mediterranean way of life. Shade here will also provide respite from the midday sun; perhaps consider a pergola draped in a vine or, instead, an established olive, given greater height by being planted in a frost-proof terracotta container. This is the quintessential material of the region and, being porous, allows constant evaporation, keeping the plant roots cool in the full heat of the sun. With the finishes and architectural details now in place, it’s time to start work on the planting. For those of us with heavier soil, ensure that sharp horticultural sand is added first. To avoid having to take any plants in over winter, I prefer to use schemes featuring entirely hardy plants. Designs should be laid back, combining plants that collectively offer texture, fragrance and colour. Structure might be added by palms such as Trachycarpus fortunei, with colour being provided by perennials such as the sage-like Phlomis fruticosa, with its hooded yellow flowers. Herbs are key, too; rosemary, for instance, provides evergreen, fragrant planting that is at hand for those long dinners at the rustic dining table. Collectively, these plants will be fairly undemanding through the seasons, but would benefit from some form of mulch, and perhaps the application of a layer of gravel or pebbles to suppress weeds and keep that much-coveted water in. The next step is just to slow down and enjoy. Close those eyes, and take in the scent. Now open your eyes and enjoy your very own Garden of Paradise.

Nick Woodhouse is the co-director of interior and garden design company Woodhouse & Law on 4 George’s Place, Bathwick Hill, Bath; 01225 428072; www.woodhouseandlaw.co.uk



Pots, paving, hardy plants, bright sunshine and plenty of terracotta in this selection of Mediterranean inspirations


It’s a unique feline… BATH CAT CLINIC is celebrating its first anniversary of being the first cat-only veterinary surgery to open in Bath, and it truly has been a ‘feline-tastic’ year


hy only cats? I hear you ask. Over the last two decades, our understanding of feline medicine and behaviour and awareness of stress in cats has increased dramatically. It is well recognised that stress is a major factor making owners reluctant to take their cats to the vets. So, we aim to minimise the stress at every stage, whilst accepting that we cannot eliminate it completely. Additionally, our vets, Kate and Ellen, have further qualifications in feline medicine and many years of experience – this means that your cat is likely to get a diagnosis and appropriate species-specific treatment more quickly. So how do we minimise stress? Step1: The Journey Use suitable cat carriers with wide opening doors and removable tops. Get your cat accustomed to the carrier at home – leaving it out with a cosy bed and catnip/food treats will help make it less of a fearful object. Pheromone therapies and occasional anti-anxiety medications can help. In the car, cover the carrier, avoid loud noises/music and secure the carrier to minimise movement. Always place an absorbent material in the carrier in case your cat urinates. Step 2: The Waiting Room Experience This is probably the thing you will be most aware of when you visit – idealy, the atmosphere should be quiet, with no barking dogs or nosy ones wanting to sniff your cat in its basket. Stands to put your cat on are good, as they like being up high (a better vantage point from where to view ‘enemies’), and covers enable them to feel hidden and safe (because cats don’t want said ‘enemies’ to actually see them!). And a friendly welcome to help you relax, of course. Step 3: The Vet Bit So many aspects to this, but simple things such


as allowing your cat to come out of the carrier itself and explore its surroundings before we put our hands on it, or examine it in the carrier by removing the top if it doesn’t want to venture out. Gentle, quiet movements, with the cat facing away from us (very threatening having someone look directly at you!). Understanding how the cat is reacting to us, stopping if they are getting upset. Recognising it is not an argument that we have to win, but more of a discussion with the cat at a pace dictated by the cat. And as mentioned above, species-specific knowledge and expertise. The above is just a summary as we could go on all day. As you can probably tell we are quite passionate about what we do, and we would love you to experience it for yourself when your furry friend next needs a vet visit. A cat-only clinic is not just about loving cats – it’s about understanding them, too. ■ 4 Beaufort East, London Road, Bath BA1 6QD 01225 312061 www.bathcatclinic.co.uk f Bath.Vet.Group

OUR CLINICS: • Rosemary Lodge Hospital Wellsway, Bath, BA2 5RL; 01225 832521 • Bath Cat Clinic; 4 Beaufort East, London Road, BA1 6QD; 01225 312061 • Chapel Veterinary Surgery, Forest Road, Melksham, SN12 7AA; 01225 702427 • Marshfield Veterinary Surgery; 57 High Street, Marshfield, SN14 8LR; 01225 891171 • Oldfield Park Veterinary Surgery 4 Third Avenue, Oldfield Park, BA2 3NY; 01225 423652 • Peasedown Veterinary Surgery 46 Bath Road, Peasedown St John, BA2 8DL; 01761 435673 • Saltford Veterinary Surgery; 478B Bath Road, Saltford, BS31 3DJ; 01225 872002 • Station Road Veterinary Surgery Lower Weston, BA1 3DY; 01225 428921 • Park Road Vets, 11 Park Road, Keynsham, Bristol, BS31 1BX; 0117 9339 933

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FROME WITH A VIEW A luxury B&B, top-notch gastropub fare, a sprawling artisan market and heaps of fun – we’re in fabulous Frome, the small, cutting edge Somerset town that continues to punch far above its weight

Words by Hugo Ball

“This vibrant, arty little town has really taken on a life of its own in recent years” 88 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

As good as scone: an indulgent afternoon tea at luxury B&B, Swallow Barn, in Buckland Dinham




nless you really have just crawled out from under a block of Bath stone, Frome will no doubt already be on your radar. Frequently mentioned in despatches as one of the best places to live in the UK, this small, arty, über-vibrant Somerset market town seems to have taken on a life of its own in recent years. Just a 30-minute drive from Bath, there’s a palpable buzz here as you wander around. Big on architectural and visual appeal – Frome has the most listed buildings in the county – there are lovely independent shops (particularly up cobbled Catherine Hill – we loved the stylish clobber at Assembly and edgy art and design bits at gallery space Kobi & Teal), a thriving café culture (Rye Bakery and The Black Swan both do great coffee and food), a vibrant creative/arts scene, and a huge monthly Sunday artisan market, The Frome Independent, which attracts around 15,000 visitors (more on that shortly). And there’s nearby Bruton, of course, Frome’s posh cousin, with its world-class Hauser & Wirth gallery, smattering of classy boutiques, and At The Chapel, an all-day restaurant/bar with rooms, housed, unsurprisingly, in a Grade II listed, 17th-century chapel. No wonder assorted hipsters, young families and professionals from Bath, Bristol, London and beyond seem to be gravitating to the area in droves. Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. With the Frome Independent happening, my wife and I decided to make a weekend of it, and book into Swallow Barn, a luxury B&B in nearby Buckland Dinham. Arriving on a searingly hot Saturday afternoon, we’re warmly greeted by co-owner Penny Reynolds, who runs the place with her husband, Paul. She shows us to our room for the night (one of two guest rooms, in what is essentially a wing of the main house), and it’s a cosy and spacious home from home, with tasteful ‘country chic’ decor, comfy sofas to flop into, Sky telly, and a posh wet room that wouldn’t look out of place in a ritzy hotel. Bliss. Weary from heat, we drop our bags and decamp to the garden room, which boasts fantastic views of rolling wildflower meadows and fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s properly bucolic, a real painterly scene – you half-expect Black Beauty to come galloping through the long grass. Before long,

ABOVE: The Frome Independent market

in full swing; BELOW, FROM TOP: Popular country pub, The Talbot Inn, in Mells; Swallow Barn is a real home from home; irresistible pies at the market

we’re tucking into afternoon tea – warm scones, jam (both homemade) and cream, with freshly-brewed tea and coffee – while basking in that gorgeous vista. If you’re feeling more energetic, the Macmillan Way, where you can walk for miles, can be joined directly from the garden, and Penny is happy to recommend coffee stops and eateries en route. There are also two bikes for guests to use, and a quirky little shepherd’s hut, where you can practice a spot of yoga before breakfast, should you feel so inclined. After freshening up, we head out to the Talbot Inn, a traditional country pub with rooms in nearby Mells, a beautiful little village with its own pretty walled garden. We’re eating at the Talbot’s Coach House Grill Room (open at weekends only) – it’s a gorgeously balmy evening, so we sit out in the garden. Everyone else has evidently had the same idea, and it’s nicely busy – there’s a lovely hum of convivial chat, as aromas of chargrilled food waft tantalisingly under our noses. Using seasonal and local produce, some of it grown in the pub’s own kitchen garden, food here is grilled simply on an open charcoal and wood fire, with pretty much everything else made, cured or smoked in-house. Our feast is a triumph from start to finish – an antipasti board with cured meats, Westcombe Cheddar and pickles (including pickled celery, sweet yet tangy – my new favourite thing); a whole Brixham sea bream, beautifully moist and juicy, and a perfectly turned out 42-day aged onglet steak, both served with a hefty portion of chips; and, to finish, a grown-up dark chocolate mousse with roasted plums and strawberry sorbet, so good that we end up duelling spoons. Chummy, attentive service from the on-it waiting staff, too; this could well become our new date night go-to. The next morning, after the most restful sleep I’ve had for ages – in a super-kingsize bed, more than big enough for my lanky frame (and without the regular 3am interruption from our three-year-old, who is at her grandparents for the night) – we’re up with the sun. After a hearty continental breakfast of champions (guests can have breakfast delivered to their room, or eat al fresco in spring and summer), we’re ready to hit Frome. It’s another sizzler of a day, and the market is a colourful hive of activity. Everywhere you look, there’s a busy scene of gentle hustle and bustle, with tempting goodies on every corner – talented West Country designer-makers selling their wares, food producers, street food stalls and an army of vintage traders, with everything from retro threads to old maps and mid-century furniture for sale. There’s even a pop-up urban beach – Fromeon-Sea, as they call it – complete with ice creams, buckets and spades, deckchairs, donkey rides and DJs spinning feelgood tunes, as kids and their parents throw all manner of crazy shapes; it’s difficult to tell which of them is having the most fun. It’s typical of Frome’s happy, high-spirited, ‘anything goes’ ethos. For all-out fun and indulgence, this hugely enjoyable weekender will take some beating. A double room at Swallow Barn costs £120 per night (two-night minimum stay). Swallow Barn, The Cross, Buckland Dinham BA11 2QS; Tel: 07967 003261, www.swallowbarnfrome.com

www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 89



Thanks to an impressive roster of sponsors, the 2019 Bath Life Awards look set to be the best-supported yet

READY, SET, BATH LIFE AWARDS ARE GO! Major new backing for Bath Life Awards – and its sister events – by Jelf


ollowing the sell-out success of this year’s celebrations, the Bath Life Awards are back, with the organisers planning an even more impressive event for 2019. Joining the already strong line-up of category sponsors is Jelf, in a unique quadruple city deal which involves platinum sponsorship in

Bath Life Awards’ sister events in Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff. Jelf ’s insurance, risk management and employee benefits business connects with thousands of companies in the South West. “Our entrepreneurial and community spirit means that we truly understand the challenges and opportunities that SME and mid-sized businesses in the region

face,” says Nichola Thomson, Jelf ’s managing director (South West & Midlands). “Our purpose is simple: helping businesses and individuals thrive in the often complex environments that they operate in. We are proud to support these Awards, which actively champion and celebrate business success.” “We are thrilled to have the backing of Jelf,” says MediaClash’s event director, Steph Dodd. “Jelf is an incredible regional-to-national success story, and they’re a perfect partner for our awards. As an award-winning company itself, Jelf knows how powerful awards can be as a business driver.” The Bath Life Awards will be held on 28 February 2019 at The Assembly Rooms, with the allimportant nominations opening in November. For many years, the über-glam awards have sold out weeks in advance, with 500 attendees and several dozen on the waiting list. The 2019 Awards are set to be the most highly-supported yet, with the initial roster of sponsors including headliners The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa; platinum sponsors Bristol Airport; and category sponsors Jelf, Bath BID, Novia Financial, Savills, Tile & Flooring, Apex Hotels, Stone King, Kersfield, Hotel Indigo, Hawker Joinery, Bath Volkswagen, Bath Audi, Bath Rugby, Bryers, First Bath and Circo. The Awards are backed by an eight-month marketing campaign, peaking in February. In 2018, they were trending on Twitter, such was the huge interest in them. Information for businesses on how


Quote of the issue

“I’M LEARNING FAST AND MAKING LOTS OF MISTAKES IN THE PROCESS!” Who’s being brutally honest? Find out over the page…

The Big Number


That’s how much discount Bath’s newest store is offering customers on launch day – see page 97 for more…

to win a Bath Life Award will be available via the website. “We’re keen for all companies to put the best possible case forward for a Bath Life Award,” adds Steph. “Our comprehensive online guide will walk businesses through what the judges are looking for, and will explain how the Awards work.” For sponsorship enquiries, contact pat.white@mediaclash.co.uk; For more: www.bathlifeawards.co.uk





Jules Mittra, founder of specialist day tour company, Around and About Bath, on extraordinary journeys, epiphanies and connecting with guests

What sets AAAB apart? Everything – our approach, our staff, our commitment to our guests, and our structure, depth and passion. How’s business right now? Tough but encouraging! We’re now a team of five. We’ve grown quickly because the feedback we’ve had has been so consistently outstanding – I’m having to learn fast and making lots of mistakes in the process. However, my prime concern is always that our guests’ experience is exceptional every single time, and I’m so proud of how our fabulous team continues to ensure we get this right consistently.

Jules Mittra: “It is almost impossible not to be awed by the breathtaking beauty of Bath’s architecture”

What is it that makes Bath so appealing, do you think? There really is nowhere else with such a breadth of landscapes, history, gardens and experiences so densely packed around it. It’s the perfect base from which to discover the essence of England. Favourite part of Bath? Larkhall. It’s part of Bath yet somehow seems so separate, as if it has a different pace.

In a nutshell, what does Around And About Bath do? We take the idea of what a day tour or local travel experience should be and turn it on its head. We give our guests a truly extraordinary, unhurried and engaging experience by creating immersive in-depth journeys of discovery into the ‘England’ that we, as passionate locals, know and love. Tell us more… Each ‘curated experience’ (day tour) or ‘historical dining experience’ (dining tour) is a chocolate-box adventure for 2-8 guests, sharing the must-sees, gems, forgotten stories, remarkable connections, history, food, drink, people, places, routes and experiences that delight and amaze, but are well away from the 92 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

well-worn and well-known. We don’t share our itineraries because the surprises and discoveries are part of the ‘wow’ factor. When and why did you start the company? We’ve just turned two – our first tour was in August 2016. My wife and I had been teaching and setting up schools in Zambia for several years, but had decided to come back to the UK. I’d wanted to change careers for some time, and after years of agonising about what to do, I had an epiphany – stop thinking about what I should do, and think about what I enjoy. I love travel, history, the local region, meeting people, exchanging thoughts and ideas and exploring. Suddenly, it seemed obvious.

Why is Bath such a good place to work? There are so many interesting, creative and warm people here. And if I stand almost anywhere in central Bath, it is virtually impossible not to be awed by the breathtaking beauty of the architecture. Your new winter tours sound exciting – tell us more... We believe that Bath is a fabulous place to visit throughout the year, and want to share the unique seasonal experiences, local artisans, food and drink, heritage and attractions that make it a fascinating place to visit, even when it’s cold and dark. Our winter tours do just that. What sort of people tend to book onto your tours? We have a hugely diverse clientele, from billionaires and government ministers to overseas students staying in youth hostels. The thing that unites almost all of our guests is that they are curious, inquisitive thinkers looking for a meaningful and engaging experience.

“WE TAKE THE IDEA OF WHAT A DAY TOUR EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE AND TURN IT ON ITS HEAD” Most interesting aspects of your job? The relationships and connections with people it brings. I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing team around me, and we work with some fabulous partners, too. Most of all, I get so much pleasure from seeing the delight our guests experience as a result of our hard work and care. It’s a great feeling. Plans for the future? To establish the ‘Around and About’ model in Bath, and then – once proven – expand. Indeed, out of the blue, one guest on a tour made an offer to invest just two weeks’ shy of our second birthday, which is hugely encouraging. Best to take it one step at a time, though! Surprise us... I never intended to set up a business and only came up with the idea just weeks earlier in Cusco, Peru. We were travelling in South America before taking up new posts at a school in the Alps, but [wife] Henny wanted to come home. We agreed on the basis that she’d allow me to risk setting up a business. We shook hands on it just before touching down at Heathrow. www.aroundandaboutbath.com


Bringing you the latest from Bath Rugby headquarters



BUSINESS MATTERS DIARY From networking breakfasts to invaluable evening courses, make a note of the courses and classes that will help your business flourish 5 SEPTEMBER GREEN BUSINESS FUND If you’re a small company, this free workshop will help you identify and implement opportunities to reduce energy costs within your business, understand your bills and make the most of the Carbon Trust’s Green Business Fund. 9am, Bath Guildhall; www.carbontrust.com

The Rec is having an overnight ‘sleep out’ to raise money for Bath's homelessness charities

Bath Rugby Foundation, the charitable arm of Bath Rugby, is challenging local businesses and individuals to help tackle the problem of youth homelessness by taking part in an overnight sleep-out on the Rec. Money raised at the Rec Sleep Out, which takes place on 7 November, will boost the work of the Foundation and Julian House, which supports homeless people here in the city. Bath Rugby Foundation works with more than 2,000 children and young people annually, and staff are increasingly aware that more and more of the participants on the charity’s programmes do not have the security of a permanent home. Sadly, some young people are also extremely hungry when they arrive at the charity. “The Rec Sleep Out is simple,” says Bath Rugby Foundation CEO, Lynne Fernquest. “We are calling on B&NES businesses and their staff to forgo the comfort of their

94 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

beds for one night in favour of a sleeping bag on a cold, concrete floor. Our objective is to raise awareness of the challenges that vulnerable young people in our community face, while raising much-needed funds for Bath Rugby Foundation and Julian House. “As Bath Rugby Foundation approaches its 15th birthday, we want to raise awareness of the plight of an increasing number of our participants, who find themselves one small step away from living on our streets.” The Foundation is asking businesses to enter teams of four and to raise a minimum of £1,000, either by fundraising themselves or by direct donation, while individuals will be asked to raise or pledge a minimum of £250. By taking part, you will be raising awareness, raising funds and helping make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable young people living in and around Bath. To sign up and register, go to www.ssl.cow-parsley.co.uk/brf. For more: www.bathrugby.com


6 SEPTEMBER NETWORKING AND NIBBLES Join Bath Chamber of Commerce and Visit Bath at the egg theatre for conversation, cocktails and canapés. Make new contacts and learn more about the outreach and education work done by the egg’s creative learning team. 6pm, the egg, entry from £11; www.businesswest.co.uk 12 SEPTEMBER CREATING CONTENT FOR DIGITAL MARKETING A free interactive workshop explaining how to grow your business by enhancing your digital presence. If you’re baffled by blogging and want to create compelling content online, this is for you. 9am, Bath and County Club; www.bathandcountyclub.com www.coolventures.co.uk 13 SEPTEMBER MANAGE STRESS AT WORK The Federation of Small Businesses has teamed up with B&NES’ public health and business growth teams and local mental health charity Bath Mind to stage a free seminar to help small business owners manage the stress, health and wellbeing of their employees – and themselves. 10am, Bath Racecourse; www.fsb.org.uk

Nicholas Wylde and team with their latest award


Bath and Bristol-based jeweller Nicholas Wylde recently picked up its latest gong, after winning the coveted Best UK Marketing Campaign award at the prestigious UK Jewellery Awards in London. Their winning campaign, Bath’s Wylde Treasure Hunt, brought the city’s high street and indie retailers together, promoting tourism and shopping while encouraging excited treasure hunters to visit all areas of Bath in search of hidden Nicholas Wylde prizes (including a £10,000 piece of jewellery!). “I really enjoyed designing the unusual items and working closely with my retail partners,” says Nicholas. “My idea was to create an interesting interactive competition that could help the independent retail trade of Bath but also showcase our beautiful jewellery around the city.” For more: www.nicholaswylde.com


Wiltshire law firm, Goughs Solicitors, has announced the appointment of commercial property specialist and partner Patrick Mears, who brings with him more than 20 years’ experience, and trainee solicitor Karling Lau. “This is an excellent time to join Goughs,” says Patrick. “Great emphasis has been placed not only on recruitment, but also on the firm’s strategic direction and overall vision, creating a culture of excellence.” For more: www.goughs.co.uk



FANTASTIC FOUR Our pick of the most exciting, intriguing or important local business stories right now

Ben Moreland, founder of premium activewear brand, Asuno UK

Activewear brands are clearly all the rage this month – another one, Boudavida, has just opened in Milsom Place


Former Bath University student, Ben Moreland, has launched Asuno UK, an ethical, premium quality activewear brand which saves lives by providing food, water and identity to children in need around the world. Every Asuno purchase supports one of three UK charities – Plump’d, Water for Africa and Toybox. “I believe every business has the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world,” says Ben, a self-confessed fitness enthusiast. “Every item in the Asuno range is designed to be versatile, functional and comfortable, as well as having a very clear charitable metric. We wanted customers to be able to see easily how their money was being used, and what a difference their purchase was making to the life of a child in need.” For more: www.asuno-uk.com

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with Mogers Drewett for the Christmas Market,” says Les Redwood from Visit Bath. “We’re continually looking to engage with local businesses and enhance connections between them and the Bath community. This helps us to promote the city to a local, regional and national audience.” For more: www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk, www.mogersdrewett.com



Visit Bath has announced a partnership with South West law firm, Mogers Drewett, to support family-friendly events at this year’s Bath Christmas Market, including the lanterns and decorations that will light up Abbeygate Street, made by local primary school children from single-use plastic.

TOP: Steven Treharne (Mogers Drewett)

and Les Redwood (Visit Bath); ABOVE: HPH MD Lindsay Holdoway and Henrietta Beard from Dorothy House

Activewear brand Boudavida has just opened its first store, at Milsom Place in Bath. Created and founded in Somerset, customers will be able to shop the current spring/summer women’s collection as well as the upcoming autumn/ winter range, which is due to be launched in October. To celebrate the opening, the store will be holding a launch event on 12 September (10am-8pm), with 20% discount for customers and the opportunity to win Boudavida clothing and vouchers. The company also plans to offer a range of fitness classes, encouraging more women and girls to get active. “We are excited to be opening

our first store in the heart of Bath,” says Boudavida founder and CEO, Anabel Sexton. “Milsom Place is perfect for creating a really personal shopping environment and we’re looking forward to introducing many new customers to our brand.” For more: www.boudavida.com


Bath firm HPH Commercial Property has successfully raised over £5,000 for local charity Dorothy House over the last 12 months, after selecting them as the their charity of the year. Staff at the company, based at Kingsmead Square, completed a range of fundraising activities for the local hospice, which cares for people with life-limiting illnesses. “As a company, we are pleased to have raised such a significant amount of money for this important local charity,” says HPH MD, Lindsay Holdoway. “Many of our lives have been touched by the work of Dorothy House, and we know that many more will be. It’s an amazing place, and we are very fortunate to have such a leading hospice in this area.” For more: www.hph.co.uk, www.dorothyhouse.org.uk www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 97


Sarah Moon, marketing manager of The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, on winning a Bath Life Award, the hotel’s success, and collaborative working So, how did it feel to win a Bath Life Award?

As a team, we were absolutely delighted – it was a great feeling. 2017 was a record-breaking year for the hotel and one that the whole team had put a million percent into.


How did you celebrate?

There were most definitely one or two glasses of Taittinger champagne consumed on the night.

Why do you think you won?

For various reasons – the success we had in 2017, and our consistent level of service, amongst other things.

What makes The Royal Crescent stand out?

Its location in a world-famous

landmark building, and the feeling of luxury, tranquility and relaxation.

What do you love most about your job? The diversity (no two days are the same), the people, and talking about such a wonderful product on a daily basis. I really do feel very lucky!

How do you see the next few years panning out for The Royal Crescent Hotel?

Where is your award now?

It’s proudly displayed in the entrance hall of the hotel (in fact, it’s alongside our 2016 award!).

“Yes!” The Royal Crescent Hotel team celebrate their BLA win


The hotel has gone from strength to strength in recent years. For us it’s now about growing the North American, Australian and Chinese markets.

What do you love most about being in Bath?

The community feel, particularly with local businesses – everyone helps and encourages each other. This is such a unique city for collaborative working, something I’ve never really experienced elsewhere.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t try to be all things to all people – identify your brand or goal and don’t deviate too far from it.

Business heroes?

I have a lot of admiration for Sir James Dyson – he’s an individual who had an idea and worked tirelessly to grow and develop it until it became a reality and a huge success. He never stands still in business and is always using his core values and purposes to grow, develop and better himself and his products. And his philanthropic work in the local community is awe-inspiring.

Tell us a secret…

The hotel has one acre of secluded gardens situated behind the spectacular façade. It’s a perfect summer spot for afternoon tea, lunch, dinner or even a stunning, exclusiveuse wedding. For more: www.royalcrescent.co.uk






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Are company cars ever a good idea? Nick Oliver from Bath-based chartered accountants and tax advisers PEARSON MAY weighs up the pros and cons…


t is a question we are often asked, mainly from a tax point of view of course, and you will probably not be surprised if I say the answer is generally ‘it depends’! Changes in recent years, increasing the taxable benefit rates across the board, have meant that the amounts on which company directors and staff are taxed have increased significantly. Generally speaking, if a company provides a car to an employee (including directors) then the fact that the car is available for private use as well as for business purposes is enough for a Benefit in Kind (BIK) income tax charge to arise on the employee. The tax charge is calculated by reference to the list price of the car when new (plus the list price of any optional extras) and then applying a percentage to that amount, based on the car’s CO2 emissions. The higher the car’s CO2 emissions, the greater the taxable benefit will be. For example, for a diesel car with CO2 emissions of 140 g/km, the current taxable BIK arising would be equivalent to 33% of the car’s list price (the percentage is 4% lower if the car is certified to the ‘RDE2’ standard) and this increases to 36% in 2019/20. The employee would then pay tax on that figure at their marginal income tax rate. The benefit is reported on a form P11D for each tax year for which the car is provided, and the company also pays Class 1A National Insurance (currently at a rate of 13.8%) on the value of the taxable benefit. The level of this taxable benefit in itself may not be too significant, but the potentially much more significant tax charges arise if the company provides fuel for both private and business journeys. If that is the case then a flat rate sum

Nick Oliver, a partner at Pearson May

of £23,400 (for 2018/19) is multiplied by the applicable taxable percentage (as mentioned above), or a proportion thereof if the car is not provided for the whole year. This flat rate generally increases each tax year. Are there any ways to avoid these taxable benefits? It can be very difficult to convince the Revenue that no taxable benefit arises on cars available for use by employees, but in theory there is an exemption if the company prohibits private use of the car and there is, as a matter of fact, no actual private use. In practical terms, a clear agreement should be drawn up (which might be able to be included in the individual’s contract of employment) which states that private use is prohibited as part of the terms on which the vehicle is provided to the employee. For these purposes, ordinary commuting, i.e. travel between the employee’s home and place of work, is usually classed as a private journey. There is also an exemption for company pool cars but, again, there are numerous conditions to be met. For a car to qualify as a pool car it should not normally be kept at or near an employee’s home, and the Revenue would generally expect it to be kept on the business premises when not in use. It should be used by more than one employee (and should not ordinarily be used by one employee to the exclusion of others), and there must not usually be any private use of the pool car except for any private use which might be incidental to business use, for example an employee taking the car home in the evening before an early start for a business journey the next day. In practice, the Revenue would expect to see very detailed records in support of a car being classed as a pool car which would probably need to include a log of every journey undertaken in the pool car detailing the purpose of the journey and who used the car, with a note of how many miles were undertaken and a running total of the miles which should be reconciled to the odometer readings from the car. Are there any circumstances in which a company car is beneficial from a tax point of view? If low emission cars are provided to employees then the taxable benefit can equally be relatively low, although BIK rates have increased fairly significantly across the board over recent years; these increases have also applied to very low emission and wholly electric cars. Four years ago, electric cars had a 0% BIK charge but the current rate (for 2018/19) is 13%,

increasing to 16% next year. Similarly, a car with CO2 emissions of up to 50 g/km was taxed at 5% four years ago, but the rate for such cars now is also 13%. However, HMRC have announced that the BIK rates applicable to so-called ‘Ultra Low Emission Vehicles’ will be significantly reduced from 2020/21 which will mean wholly electric cars (and in some cases, those with CO2 emissions of up to 50 g/km) will only have a BIK rate of 2%. As an aside, from a Capital Allowances point of view, if the car has CO2 emissions of 50 g/ km or less then the company should be able to claim 100% Corporation Tax relief on the cost of the car, but only if it is acquired brand new from the forecourt. What about the fuel benefit? It is relatively rare that the provision of fuel for private motoring in a company car is taxefficient but this can arise in a situation where an employee’s private mileage is very high. In most other cases it is generally advisable to ask the employee to meet all the fuel costs and for the company to then reimburse them for business journeys (using HMRC’s advisory fuel rates). HMRC publish these advisory fuel rates quarterly via their website. Again, to avoid a taxable benefit arising, detailed mileage logs should be maintained to record any business or private journeys as appropriate, to evidence that only the cost of business journeys has been reimbursed to the employees. However, to incentivise companies to become ‘greener’ generally, HMRC have introduced more favourable tax breaks for the provision by employers of electricity and electric charging points, either at the employer’s premises or at the employee’s home. Electricity is not classed as ‘fuel’ for these purposes, so the flat rate fuel benefit referred to above (£23,400) does not apply to the provision of electricity. As long as the employer contracts directly to install electric charging points and/or provide electricity for charging company cars, a taxable benefit on these costs can often be avoided completely. The above is for general guidance only and no action should be taken without obtaining specific advice. ■

37 Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DA 01225 460491 mail@pearsonmay.co.uk www.pearsonmay.co.uk www.mediaclash.co.uk I BATH LIFE I 101




Somerset Place enjoys a dream location, tucked away in a pretty backwater between Sion Hill and Lansdown Crescent – and you might just find that living here is more achievable than you’d think… By Wendy Lyne www.mediaclash.co.uk MEDIACLASH.CO.UK I BATH LIFE I 103 141

104 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk



art of what makes Bath so unique, of course, is the sheer number of elegant Georgian crescents that litter its hillsides, some large – the Royal Crescent, Lansdown Crescent – and others more bijoux and hidden away. One such is Somerset Place, shorter than most but perfectly placed, with achingly pretty views over the trees and rooftops of some the city’s most chichi areas, Sion Hill, Cavendish Road, St James’s Square and on to the Royal Crescent and beyond. It’s had a strange old history, Somerset Place. The architect John Eveleigh designed the facades, but went bankrupt following the collapse of Bath City Bank, and legged it to Plymouth. In his time, though, he was a bit of a crescent specialist, designing Camden Crescent – where the Elliott family lodge in Jane Austen’s Persuasion – as well as Somerset Crescent, not to mention Grosvenor Place, Beaufort Buildings on the London Road, and a number of other important addresses across Bath and Bristol. Work began on this planned row of 20 houses – in the end, only 16 were built – in 1790, but it took over 30 years to get them finished. After World War II had taken its toll, destroying

some of the buildings, the whole thing was rebuilt as student accommodation for the long-gone Bath College of Domestic Science – now merged with Bath Spa University, its old Sion Hill home currently the School of Art and Design – but it’s more recently been renovated as private homes. Indeed, it hit the headlines in 2012 when the entire row was put on the market – the first time in over 200 years that a Bath crescent had been on sale in its entirety – with the eventual purchaser redeveloping it in a £60m project that delivered some nine town houses and 20 apartments. The location is, of course, exemplary – just off Sion Hill, with easy access to top-notch schools like Kingswood and The Royal High School – as is the particular maisonette we’re looking at here. Though called No.5, it’s in the second building into the row (numbers 1 to 3 don’t exist), and gives you two floors, a private garden and your own entrance. So what else do you get? Well, immediately inside there’s a large, strikingly presented entrance hall, which leads to the inner hallway; from here, you get four choices. Use the loo-cumcloakroom; head through separate doors into either the drawing room or the kitchen-cum-dining room; or pop downstairs to the bedrooms. Let’s look at the living areas first. The virtually square 18”9’ x 17’4” drawing room is at the south-facing front of the building, with those views over Bath; there are high ceilings, an oak floor, bespoke shelving, and a

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marble fireplace containing a gas log-effect fire. And at the back of the house, the longer, slightly narrower kitchen-dining room has composite stone worktops, integrated Miele appliances, Modulnova wall and base units, and plenty of room for a dining table. Very much the heart of this home, it features three sets of French doors along the back wall, which can be flung open to bring the outside in, the rear garden accessed via a glass and steel bridge. Downstairs, meanwhile, the 15’ x 13’8” master bedroom is at the back, and has access to the lower terrace via more French doors; a doorway through the centre of the fitted wardrobe leads to an en suite with bath and separate shower cubicle. Also on this floor are a family bathroom and two further double bedrooms, through one of which you can enter the lower courtyard area and get access to a private under-pavement vault. The garden? Designed to be low-maintenance and great for entertaining, it’s landscaped and multi-level, with well-stocked borders, paved terraces and box hedges. Steps lead down to the lower terrace, where there’s a good barbecue area, and then to a further, even lower, section which contains a shed. There’s private parking, too. The price? £1.65 million. Not cheap, but for an enviable, nicely sized, extremely liveable home in one of the very best parts of what was recently voted England’s favourite city, nothing like a king’s ransom either.

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HOUSE NUMBERS Square footage Bedrooms Price Where

2,058 3 £1,650,000

Somerset Place, off Sion Hill

What else? Communal front garden, private landscaped rear garden, front courtyard and vault, private parking space Knight Frank, 4 Wood Street, Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2JQ; 01225 325999; www.KnightFrank.co.uk


Unique offer could save buyers close to £100,000 Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for second home purchases rose substantially from April 2018


t meant anyone buying a second home would have to add an extra three per cent on top of the normal SDLT rates. However, a massive saving now awaits second home house hunters at Bath’s leading new property development, where developer Crest Nicholson will cover the cost of stamp duty on the three exclusive penthouse apartments currently available. With a purchase price of £1.2 million for one of the penthouses*, it means anyone who wants to buy one of these top floor pads as a second home could now save up to £99,750. The three penthouses currently available are located in the Sovereign Point building at Bath Riverside. But a shortening supply of brand new top floor pads in the world heritage city is likely to focus the attention even more for those wanting to enjoy all the trappings of their own oasis of calm close to the bustling city centre. Danielle Simpson, sales manager at Crest Nicholson, said: “For the foreseeable future there aren’t any new penthouse apartments being built in Bath, and we don’t know of any other development that has any planned either, especially on the banks of the river. “The three that are currently available in Sovereign Point really are the last in line and our advice for anyone looking for this style of property as a second home is they can’t hang about, especially with this offer in place. “They are the perfect retreat to enjoy all that Bath and the surrounding area has to offer.

“THE FIRST FLOOR COMPRISES VERY SPACIOUS OPENPLAN, LIVING, DINING AND KITCHEN AREAS” With spectacular views out across the rooftops of the city, the specification is of the highest quality and is what makes them exclusive.”

LUXURY AT EVERY TURN Access to these three penthouses is through the beautifully appointed central atrium, which stretches from the ground floor all the way up to the top of the building. Entering the penthouses, house hunters will be hit with a massive ’wow’ factor. The first floor comprises very spacious openplan, living, dining and kitchen areas which are flooded with natural light through the generous floor-to-ceiling windows. Designed for modern living, these stunning homes enjoy a sleek kitchen and integrated Siemens appliances, which include a stylish wine cooler and coffee machine. Offering luxury at every turn, the double bedrooms include fitted wardrobes and a 108 I BATH LIFE I www.mediaclash.co.uk

contemporary en suite bathroom. The living areas provide access to the balconies that stretch the full width of each property as well as direct access to secluded roof terraces, accessed via a glass-encased spiral staircase. This leads owners up and outside where they will be able to enjoy farreaching views across the rooftops of Bath and the surrounding countryside. The roof terraces have plenty of space for outside furniture, sun loungers and potted plants, making them a calm, private oasis in the heart of the city. There is also spacious storage so that outdoor furniture can be put away during the winter months. Each property also comes with two allocated parking spaces which are in the residents’ underground car park. n *Penthouse prices start from £1 million

To find out more about the stamp duty offer please call 01225 463517 or visit www.bathriverside.co.uk


Meet the letting agent

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, finding the right letting agent is key BEN BOWER




01225 445777; www.residebath.co.uk

01225 833899; www.tyningsbath.com What do you specialise in? We let and manage the best properties in Bath, and offer a superior level of service to our landlords and tenants. What makes you different from others in your profession? I firmly believe that people do business with people they like, and we have assembled a friendly and dedicated team with an innovative and proactive approach towards property lettings. Just look at our 54 Google reviews (and counting!) to see why people like to work with us.

What one piece of advice would you give to prospective landlords? Not all lettings agents are regulated, to ensure greater peace of mind choose an agent who is ARLA Propertymark accredited. There are well over 150 different elements of legislation affecting tenancies, landlords and tenants so it’s imperative your agent is fully up to date with the latest legislation and best practice. Ben Bower

What one piece of advice would you give to prospective tenants? Register with a variety of agents and if possible pop into the office and meet them. Putting faces to names keeps you at the forefront of the agent’s mind. If you are moving from outside the area take the time to also enquire about the local area and amenities as this helps you decide if it’s the right fit for you and your family.

What new plans do you have for next year? We will shortly be launching our brand new website, which I’m very excited about – it looks fantastic. It has been designed to showcase our wonderful photography and is brimming with useful information about the best places to live in Bath. What are the key values of your business? That’s easy! Quality in everything we do, friendly people to do business with and an ethical approach to business – we wish to be good corporate citizens.

What is your favourite part of the job? Working with such beautiful properties and discovering more about their interesting histories and architecture. Also, no one day or property is ever the same so this provides plenty of variety! Hannah Brandrith





01225 481010; www.zestlovesproperty.com

01225 484811; homeletsbath.co.uk What was your very first job? I started working weekends at House of Fraser in Norwich when I was 16, having completed work experience with them a few months prior. I was based within the handbag department which, given my love for bags, was pretty much the dream job at that age! I learnt a lot about customer service during my time in that role, as well as greatly expanding my mum’s bag collection much to the dismay of my dad! What is your favourite part of the job? I love going out and meeting new people; finding out about their lives and helping them on to the next chapter. It’s great to hear some of the stories they have to tell, with those from the children usually being the funniest. What one piece of advice would you give to prospective landlords? Find a letting agent who you trust and who you feel best understands your situation. Make sure to look online for their reviews and ask people that you know for their own experiences and recommendations. You are going to be working together for years to come and it’s important that you share that same vision for your property and your tenants.

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How has the rental market changed in the last year? HomeLets has continued to see a healthy supply of private rented accommodation in Bath over the past year, with continually improving levels of specification. Demand side, applicants seeking to live in and around the city are in buoyant numbers, with student demand being particularly strong. What makes you different from other letting agents? We are wholly independent and always striving to deliver a first class service to our clients. Based in Bath since 1992 with a highly experienced team. Specialists therefore able to work to industry best practice standards. Building a professional network far and wide from maintenance contractors to developers and everyone in between.

Natalie Giles

What one piece of advice would you give to prospective landlords? Be sure to do your homework, most notably around the buy to let mortgage market if seeking lending, yields, taxation and property compliance.

Marcus Arundell

What one piece of advice would you give to prospective tenants? Understand exactly what it is that you are looking for before you start your property search, then set a budget and stick to it (and give HomeLets a call).


“If modern design is good enough, it fits in anywhere” attractive opportunity because of its recent redevelopment and extension, but it has a lot to do in terms of securing its financial position and building its rep. We need to change perceptions that the Holburne – and, indeed, Bath – is all about the past.

CHRIS STEPHENS The Holburne’s director on great art, the changing role of museums, and the endless joys of drinking outside… How would you describe the Holburne? It’s a TARDIS-like building housing gems old and new, with paintings, sculptures, ceramic and silver all inspiring a dynamic programme of events. We’ve got a Garden Café with a terrace, where kids can run around and parents can have a drink, too. And what do you do? I represent the Holburne locally, nationally and internationally, building on past successes to promote a dynamic, contemporary venue for a range of artistic events – and I have to fundraise the money to achieve this, too… How’s 2018 shaping up for the Holburne? My highlights include the gorgeous Anthony Fry show at the beginning of the year, and the delicious pop-up restaurant with Moro. Then there’s our partnership with the National Trust, bringing Dutch Masterpieces from properties across the UK to the Holburne; the display of treasures from

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the Middle East collected by Ellen Tanner during her solo travels in the 1890s; and our busy programme of summer events. Then, this autumn, we have Gainsborough & the Theatre; Rodin: Rethinking the Fragment; and our visiting masterpiece, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney, a work I know really well. We recently put a call out for missing early works by Grayson Perry, and I’m working towards an exhibition of his work in 2020. You were at the Tate before this, weren’t you? For 20 years. Much of that time I looked after the permanent collection at Tate Britain. I also curated numerous shows, most recently the David Hockney retrospective. I’m proud of playing a part in raising the profile of Barbara Hepworth, and of black and Asian artists at Tate. So how did you end up here? I love Bath – and wanted the challenge of leading a small museum. The Holburne was an

Speaking of the extension, any thoughts? I love it. It stands out because of the imagination of Eric Parry Architects not simply to mimic the existing Georgian architecture, but to respond more sincerely to the setting of the building. If modern design is good enough, it fits in anywhere – the drive for conservation can easily lead to pastiche. What does art mean to you? It’s a way for people to express their distinctive imaginations and creativity, and a means by which individuals and society can reflect upon and better understand themselves. Museums can no longer be simply repositories of objects from the past – however beautiful – but places where we explore ideas of all kinds and where we offer routes to wellbeing. The most influential artist of them all, in your eyes? How can one answer that? Giotto? Michelangelo? For me, the artist who had the most dramatically innovative impact has to be Picasso. He changed the language of picture-making and continued to challenge orthodoxy right up to his death. Everything since has been a reaction to his art. Are you from Bath originally? No, but I’ve spent a lot of time in this area over the last 13 years, and I now live just outside. Bath is small enough to be accessible but large enough to have a lively and varied cultural life. I like that it is distinctly independent in spirit and has an easy relationship to its rural

setting. I love the surprises that you stumble across, especially when it is quieter: a faded shop sign, the views of lanes and the smaller architectural features of the city. What are your favourite shops, pubs, restaurants and cafés here? I love the independents – like the cheese shop on Walcot Street and second hand bookshop by Margaret’s Buildings. I’m a fan of old-fashioned pubs, so I love The Green Tree and The Star, and try to get to the monthly Art Bar at The Raven. What’s your most treasured possession? My campervan. It’s a 1971 VW T2 Dormobile. What’s a ‘must’ on your bucket list? To live abroad – I like the idea that I might be an old man sitting outside an Italian café, lingering each morning over a coffee or a glass of wine. What’s your best party trick? To avoid parties where tricks might be expected. Guiltiest pleasures? Too guilty to say. If you owned Bath for a day, what would you change? Apart from miraculously solving the problem of the interchange between the A36 and A46 (without screwing up Bathampton), I would like to tell the world that Bath is a free-spirited, contemporary, creative place and not defined by its Georgian heritage, wonderful though that is. Finally, surprise us. Fiona Phillips, one-time queen of Breakfast TV, once used me to illustrate how ‘sometimes the world of art is so far up its own backside it’s laughable’. n www.holburne.org

Profile for MediaClash

Bath Life – Issue 373  

Bath Life – Issue 373