A rainy and enjoyable September holiday in Romania

Hunedoara castle in Romania

You may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a space between posts recently – we’ve been away, taking a slightly later holiday this year to visit my home country, Romania.

Our little one has been exploring with us from a young age and is now a seasoned traveller so we’re lucky when it comes to flights and long car journeys so we took the opportunity to hire a car and get out and about.

Having overcome his initial nerves at driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road my husband quickly go to grips with driving in Romania and we headed out for our first destination: a small town called Orsova and the Danube with a gorgeous view across the river to Serbia on the opposite banks.

driving through Romania

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A memorable day trip back to the time of the Romans

Bath crescent

I’ve always been fascinated by the Roman civilisation. Granted the history classes in school didn’t quite resonate with me, with rigid dates and battle facts , and I found Latin class excruciatingly difficult. But there was always something fascinating about Roman ruins; the buildings, the mosaics, the fact that they seemed to have led such a luxurious and lavish life style.

ad astra per aspera

One of my favourite novels through University was Marguerite Yourcenar’s ‘Memoirs of Hadrian‘. Amongst other aspects, this novel naturally depicts the past and somehow humanises these figures from Roman history that are mostly just statues to us these days.

I was interested in everything else that surrounded the Roman civilisation when visiting Roman ruins whether it was a mosaic in Constanta – Romanian harbour town by the Black Sea, the Roman villa in Lullingstone, the magnificent Via Apia in Rome or most recently Bath. In Lullingstone for example I loved seeing a piece of tile with a cat footprint on it, as the cat – typical feline – didn’t wait for the mix to dry and stepped in it, leaving evidence of it’s stubbornness that’s lasted 2,000 years.

So recently we decided to visit Bath, which is the ultimate “Roman” relic in the Anglo-Saxon English world. The weather wasn’t quite with us, but we live by the “Don’t let the rainy days spoil your holidays” mantra.

Bath street

I was immediately astonished at the architecture in Bath, houses there looked much more….Italian or French with a strange British twist, rather than ‘British British’ – in that they were taller, made of stone rather than brick, with cobbled streets and the gardens we could just about glimpse in the back gardens seemed luscious, almost Mediterranean.

Because Bath is quite a small town, and we didn’t have much time ahead of us we headed straight towards the Roman baths for a visit. We weren’t disappointed.

Roman BathsI didn’t know quite what to expect, as I thought initially that the baths would only be a pool of water, but there was much more to it inside, and we all learned a lot.

I had to wonder though what went through those Mediterranean Latin soldiers minds when they arrived in this rainy land of Saxon tribes, thousand of miles from home, that made them think “we’ll have to make it our own. Let’s make a lavish bath!”.

The fun legend says that one of the later Roman emperors was asked by a barbarian chieftain why he bathed once a day. The emperor answered in apologetic innocence that it was because he was too busy to bathe twice.

Around 43 AD, the Roman armies landed on the south coast of England with the aim to conquer the “more civilised” south-east of England. They were quite respectful to the gods and goddesses of those they conquered. The Iron Age local tribe believed the hot spring was sacred to the Goddess Sulis hence her Sacred Spring stayed while the landscape around began to change as the Romans, in very typical fashion, started colonising and trading.

In 60 AD a rebellion broke out, led by the British Queen Boudica – it was so violent that by the end of the rebellion the province lay in ruins. It took ten years to repair damage that had been inflicted in just a few months and it is thought that it was probably during this period of reconstruction that the Romans decided to turn the native sanctuary of Sulis into a curative establishment.

Roman bath model

So the Romans started building the baths, with very precise and elaborate systems of channels in order to tame the spring of hot water.

The excavations and archaeological diggings revealed a lot of details and were able to reconstruct what those Baths might have been like.

The Baths were elegant yet simple, with chambers for massage and relaxations, several broad walkways paved with white hard lilac slabs and alcoves. The pool was 1.5 meters deep and the hot spring water flowed constantly into the Great Bath – the water level being maintained by a bronze sluice. There are still some impressive pieces of Roman engineering at work, such as the very noisy arched overflow of water. They also had elaborate heating systems under the floors in what I imagine would have been the Roman equivalent of the “changing rooms”.

arched overflow roman baths

We also saw Roman artefacts that gave an idea life at the time, such as jugs, jewellery, coins and even tombstones. The building also hosted a temple for the cult of Minerva as, faced with the spring sacred to Sulis, the Romans may have thought that this Sulis was the equivalent of their own Minerva.

After the visit to the bath we strolled into town for some sightseeing and found the famous umbrellas in the Town Centre – what a brilliant idea to shelter people on a rainy day!

Bath umbrellas

We also strolled along the river Avon and admired the boats turning beneath the Pulteney Bridge and the elegant Royal Victoria park.

We had a wonderful and unforgettable visit to Bath. The landscapes were beautiful as we descended the Avon Valley to Bath and this town is one of the most charming in Britain. Thoroughly recommended to all looking for a little slice of history and a fun day out in England – there was plenty of interest even for our little one who referred to the baths themselves as “amazing”.

Bath River Avon








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Look Up programme in Hull : BLEACHED by Tania Kovats

Tania Kovats Bleached

Did you know Hull is the UK City of Culture 2017? To mark the occasion, The Deep are co-commissioning a series of artworks around the city in partnership with Hull 2017.

Look Up is a year-long programme of temporary artworks made for the city’s public spaces and places. Each piece is unique and will take place within different seasons of the Hull 2017 programme. All have taken as their inspiration and starting point the work, people and location of The Deep.

Tania Kovats is one of the artists participating in this programme. Tania is a British artist who makes sculpture, installation, drawings and time-based works that explore our understanding and experience of landscape and the role of landscape in the formation of identity. Some of her works  included Tree, a permanent installation for the Natural History Museum; and Rivers where she collected the water from one hundred rivers around the UK, housing her water collection in a boat house in Scotland. Her current work involves a network of people globally collecting water from all the world’s seas.

For Look-Up, Tania  is creating a new large scale sculptural work called ‘BLEACHED‘. Kovats’ response to both the beauty of coral and its fragile position in the world’s ecosystem, BLEACHED is also made of material from one of the The Deep’s own exhibits.  The refurbishment of the Lagoon exhibit coincided with the development of this work, and The Deep was able to save a large quantity of modal (artificial) coral for Tania to work with.

Other works, linked to themes of the ocean life and environment will accompany BLEACHED. At the C4Di exhibition space there are new drawings on canvas, Sea Mark, and existing sculptures of ocean bowls, Indian Pacific and Atlantic while Tania’s barnacle sculpture Colony, made in response to her residency in the Galapagos Islands, will show in public areas of The Deep along with a series of evaporation ink drawings.

The Deep is one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world. Home to over 5000 animals including magnificent sharks, rays, Europe’s only pair of Green sawfish and many more. Not forgetting an array of bugs, snakes and colony of Gentoo penguins! So if you’re in Hull or travelling to Hull this summer make sure to give The Deep a try – there’s loads of fun for both adults and children.

Check-out the Deep’s listing in our directory and follow us on our Facebook page or Instagram for more information about great rainy day fun activity ideas for children!

Peter Rabbit Themed Summer Holiday Fun

River & Rowing Museum Peter Rabbit

“Once upon a time, there were four little Rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter…”

Would you believe the summer holidays are practically around the corner, again?

If you’re looking for something to do with your little ones, a trip to the River & Rowing Museum in Henley could be just what you’re after with their big Family Friendly Summer Exhibition – Peter Rabbit Mischief and Mayhem!

Peter RabbitTM has been delighting children in book form since 1902 and, most recently, via the latest TV animation, as a new generation of children get excited by his adventures.  At the River & Rowing Museum this summer, the classic story comes vividly to life in Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem, with the family fun spilling outside Mr McGregor’s garden and upstairs to the Museum’s new interactive family gallery.

Running from 24 June – 24 September 2017, this family event programme is bursting with fun activities, including a watery extravaganza in Under the Sea and Peter Rabbit’s Holiday Hop!

Bunnies will be bouncing all over the Museum this summer, as Peter Rabbit hops, skips and jumps right off the page in this interactive exhibition about Beatrix Potter’s most famous creation.

This exhibition looks at Peter across the ages, and includes original artworks, first editions and early Peter Rabbit merchandise.

In the family gallery on the 1st floor, visitors can have fun helping Mrs Tiggywinkle hang up the laundry or visit Mrs Rabbit in her burrow! Children can dress up as Peter, help plant carrots in Mr McGregor’s garden or curl up with one of the books in our story corner.

Why not enter the museum’s miniature letter writing competition, and win exclusive Beatrix Potter prizes?

Plus, every Friday during the school holidays there’s a Peter Rabbit picnic, bunny craft, dressing up and face painting (£2 p/child).

Check out the River & Rowing Museum in our directory and sign up to our newsletter for more great family attractions, fun, crafts and ideas.