Is there any finer architecture in the whole of England than the elegant, honey-coloured sweep of Bath’s Royal Crescent?
Ignore the cars and you could be back in Georgian times, looking out for well-dressed dandies in periwigs and tiny-waisted ladies in bustles off to a dance at the nearby Assembly Rooms.
Step inside No 1 Royal Crescent and it really is like going back in time.
The home of Henry Sandford from 1776-1796, it has been restored and turned into a museum that gives a fascinating insight into what life was like for Bath’s high society when the famous spa waters made it THE place to be.
Today the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its beautiful buildings and those mineral-rich thermal springs and their health-giving properties.
Less than a couple of hours’ drive from Portsmouth, it’s ideal for a short break. The great thing about Bath is that its compact nature means just about everything can be reached on foot.
We did the full tourist bit, visiting the Fashion Museum (the boys were most impressed by an original pair of Air Jordans) and the Assembly Rooms, plus No 1 and the Roman Baths, where you can see what remains of a great Roman temple and bathhouse.
We also took in the Bath Aqua Glass glass-blowing workshop and watched in fascination as a demonstration showed how glass is heated and expertly worked into vases and jugs.
Then we took a relaxing cruise down the river with Bath City Boat Trips and got a view of the city from the open top of a double-decker run by City Sightseeing Bus Tours.
Our accommodation was out of Bath at Fosse Farmhouse. Tucked away in the Wiltshire countryside at Nettleton Shrub (near picturesque Castle Combe), Caron Cooper’s 18th century Cotswold stone farmhouse is furnished with a combination of French brocante and English chintz.
Fosse Farmhouse also has an unusual claim to fame – young Japanese author Yui Hara has written a manga story all about it.
Each episode has Caron baking scones in the Aga or driving her 1954 Morris Minor to the farmers’ market.
Kinmoza (or Kiniro Mosaic) is now hugely popular on Japanese TV and anime fans all over the world make pilgrimages to see the real Fosse Farmhouse.
Ex-international DJ Caron gave us a warm welcome, our family room full of character was fine for a one-night stay and her cooked breakfast set us up for another day of sightseeing and shopping back in Bath.
While my wife enjoyed a relaxing escape at the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can swim in an open-air rooftop pool, we went to the Bath rugby shop (Bath are currently top of the Premiership).
Back home and with some happy memories, we’re already planning our next trip.
If we can get there in the next few weeks, we’ll be able to visit the award-winning Bath Christmas Market where chalets full of original gifts line the streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey.
The market began this week and runs until December 11.