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Morecambe and Wise…

Paul's Visit. Glastonbury Wells & Bath 024

No points for figuring which is which.


Our very own Paul Marks spent a few days with us at RAB&Ness Towers last week, and boy did we luck out with the weather, clear and fine every day. Had he come this week, when he planned to, we would have found some of the villages we travelled through, like Chew Magna, underwater. That is Glastonbury Tor we are standing in front of there by the way. No those are not smiles on our faces, the wind up there was so ferocious it contorted our faces into un-natural positions.

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That’s Wells from the top of the Tor. The smallest city in England. 8 miles away. My Lumix 150 zoom isn’t bad is it? We went there next.

But before that we had parked the car in the car-park of the Rifleman’s Arms, a mere  500 yards from the beginning of the path that takes you up Glastonbury Tor. The Rifleman’s is obviously a local local, favoured by folk who like tattoos, piercings and purple hair, but are everlovingly friendly for all that. I ordered some Watkins Scrumpy that I’d seen on the Tariff list, and seemed to win instant respect. Turns out it is a scrumpy produced by a local farm, and er, is the business so to speak. It certainly powered me and Paul up the Tor in sprightly fashion! So here’s the tip. If you are planning to ascend the Tor, bung your car in the Rifleman’s car park at the back, have a pint of Scrumpy and you’re sorted.

We went up the Tor in a sedate fashion as befits our age and stature, the bonkers dog went up and down it about 8 times, only pausing to roll in cowpats (windows open on the journey to Wells).

We drove via Glastonbury’s main street, just to confirm to Paul that it is indeed the Hippie capital of the UK; wall to wall mystic crystals and candle shops, full of folk watching life on a different channel to the rest of us, but no harm to anyone except perhaps themselves.

And so to Wells…Paul's Visit. Glastonbury Wells & Bath 044

With Paul preparing to Flash some Choristers …

Paul took to Wells, it’s his kind of place (beats the hell out of Kettering that’s for sure so he says!). It’s prosperous (they have yet to hear the terrible news there alas) full of free spending tourists, high quality shops, yet small and intimate. What’s not to like?

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And that is the Bishop’s Palace. Bishop’s, especially those of Bath and Wells, tended to do nicely for themselves. The scoff, drink and accommodation was always  first class. So beneficent are they that the Swans that live in the moat have a bell attached to a rope on the outside wall that they have been trained to pull when they want feeding. The original Welfare State.

The scoff, drink and accommodation isn’t too bad round RAB&Ness Towers either mind. Paul reluctantly ploughed his way through the Rosy Pork Casserole (with Butterbeans and carrots) on the Monday, the Tuna Pasta bake on the Tuesday and the chicken curry with trimmings (papadoms , Nan, chapattis  onion Baghees  etc) on the Wednesday, with accompanying wines wot we had hauled back from France in June,… like an Irish Navvy digging a canal!

We had to do Bath on the bus on Wednesday, my wife having a hospital appointment in the afternoon and needing the car.

What can I tell you all about Bath you don’t already know? Probably Britain’s most handsome city; you feel like a civilised grown up just walking round it. It was England’s Las Vegas of the 18th Century. Ostensibly they all came for the waters and the Spa, but more likely for a leg over and to chance their luck at the Gambling tables, or to find a rich wife/husband.

So Paul and I did the usual things… The Abbey and the Royal Crescent, The Circus and the Pump rooms etc etc. The place was heaving with tourists like ourselves (mainly Japanese), there are Blue Plaques on every other building because everyone and his

wicked uncle has lived here at sometime or another. And we had another fine day out.

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Pulteney Bridge, modelled on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Having walked over both I think Pulteney far the better.

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The Royal Crescent.

So a very jolly time was had by all. Having Paul Marks to stay is an extraordinary experience. I will miss the continuous stream of consciousness info emanating  from him, and of course the maniacal cackling laughter. Yes I’m sure I will. That lie down in a darkened room for two days has me almost back to normal now. Smile


  1. Mr Ed says:

    Mr Marks is not at all like Damian from The Omen talking to the history teacher.

  2. Lynne says:

    It’s been far too long since I visited that part of the world. Time I made the effort methinks.

    It’s good to see faces put to names. :D

  3. Bod says:

    Takes me back a bit – my brother and his (ex-?)wife [really ought to stay in touch with the family a bit more than I do] have lived in Street for years, so the Tor was a regular spot for me to visit, and yes, the scrumpy at the Rifleman’s was very good.

    Glastonbury town’s changed a lot since I first visited in the late 80′s – a lot more of society’s fringe hanging out there, but I have to admit, it became a far more interesting place.

    When Paul can make it over this side of the pond, I’ll put him up for a few days and he can sample a tiny and somewhat sane corner of an awfully blue region.

  4. Julie near Chicago says:

    Way cool, Messrs. RAB and Marks. I love seeing the photos–famous places and infamous faces — :>)))!!! but I just couldn’t resist!! — The narration rounds it all out perfectly. RAB, your whole posting has a you-are-there quality. It sounds as if you all had a lovely time.

    By the way–the grub at RAB&Ness Towers sounds most edible. If Paul is too reluctant to tuck into it next time, perhaps I could take his place at the trough. ;>)

  5. [...] RAB’s posting below, with it’s prominent promotion of scrumpy, reminds me of the first time I ever had the pleasure of scoffing the stuff. [...]

  6. Robert says:

    Have you got any recommendations for good lunch spots in Bath?

  7. zack says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I had heard of bath, but I had no idea it was such a handsome city. If I ever get over to that side of the pond I’ll make a point of trying to visit it.

  8. Obligato says:

    i rememberer my first experience of farm scrumpy, Wise worlds by the apple cheeked old Devonian selling it – ” Get comfortable before you drink it! ” Wise indeed – after 1st pint -euphoria, by 3rd one -anaesthesia ……

  9. RAB says:

    Erm… Before I start I have to say that this post would not have been possible without the tender ministrations of my dear wife Vanessa (Ness) A true Lady who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. For twas she who provided our sumptuous repasts each evening, drove the car to all our destinations except Bath, and took half the photographs. While Paul and I merely washed the dishes and talked our arses off for 4 days. I am the luckiest man in the world! (did I get all that down right Dear? Jeez when your ear gets bent, it really gets bent round here! ;-) ).

    Thanks for the kind words Julie n C. My longest email friend, Midwesterner of Samizdata (we have been swapping cultural notes on Britain and the USA since before YouTube was invented even) says the same. Ness and I like to get about the world as much as we can; Italy, France, Turkey, Egypt, Sri Lanka etc, but Mid has never been outside the States yet. So all these years I have tried to do little travelogues with pics for him, to give him the flavour of the places we visit. He says he likes the boots on ground feel of my reports, rather than a guidebook approach. So I am well chuffed by your comment, and will endeavor to do some more of this, now I have more confidence in my technical posting abilities.


    You are spoiled for choice in Bath. It depends on your tastes and how deep your pockets are. You can get 5 star gourmet food and humble pizzas and burgers all within half an hours walk of all the main attractions. Bath is very concentrated you see, you can walk around all of it in half an hour or so.

    Ness and I genarally visit Bath of an evening to go to the Theatre Royal (one of the best in the country) and the Italian restaurant next door is very good indeed. Situated in part of what was Beau Nash’s house (Bath’s 18th Century Master of Ceremonies, Liberine and general all round rabscallion). But right across the road is Shwartz Bros Burgers. They have been in business since the mid 70s in direct competition to the Macdonalds and Burger Kings, and piss all over both for quality.

    Bath is a sophisticated sort of place, so you will have no trouble finding some quality nosh in all directions and in no time at all.

    Zack, hope you make it one day, it is well worth seeing. I feel very privileged to live in this part of the country. There are so many splendid places to visit just a short drive away from Bristol, and Bristol itself is pretty cool.

    So if any of you are passing, you are welcome to drop in and sample our hospitality.

  10. Paul Marks says:

    Actually even my short fat hairy legs have had the hair falling out in recent times – perhaps a side effect of one my many health problems.

    If I had been on my own (and staying in Wells – wonderful town by the way) I would have tried to walk the 8 miles to Glastenbury and the 8 miles back.

    It would have killed me of course – but a good way to go.

  11. Paul Marks says:

    By the way – I was not fat till I got stuck in a coffin sized box for five years (and only let out on condition that I have lunch – no I am not making that up).

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