We have just returned from a winter vacation. Rather than remain house-bound, we faced the cold and went north. Jim went skiing in the Dolomites and I went to Paris. But we landed in Milan on a pre-ski tour to see the Last Supper. Thoughts of separation and being on my own, made me realize that I would need a focus – and objective, in fact – for my solitary stay in Paris. This was inspired by the sight of Roman ruins we came upon while walking the streets of Milan and by the memory of an earlier trip to England with my friend Jody.
My search for traces of Italy in my travels had really begun with a trip to Cornwall and a stopover in London with my friend Jody. The first day in London Jody and I slept. The next day, we went on a couple London Walks. We learned that London was established in 43 AD by the Romans, after Claudius’ invasion of Britain. The wall was built as a defensive structure between 180 and 225 AD. It was on one of these London Walks that we found the remnants of the Roman wall.
The wall, enclosing the Roman city, marks — more or less — the perimeters of The City London today. (The City of London is the one square mile of the historic center and business district. It is an entity unto itself. The surroundings areas are really the City of Westminster.)
This is what the Roman area of London looks like today.
And then Jody noticed something in a brochure. The remains of the Roman Baths in London can now be visited by the public. So, the search began. The address was 101 Lower Thames Street, Billingsgate. When we arrived, we found modern office buildings, but no number 101 Lower Thames Street. No one knew anything about Roman baths. We were near the Tower of London, so we asked in the tourist information office. The receptionist didn’t know, but she asked her supervisor. Oh, yes, was the answer. She had been there herself. You have to go through an office building and they will let you into the basement.
I was ready to give up, but not Jody. She found the spot! We went in.
Oh, yes, we could visit the baths, but only on Sundays. Maybe we could come back.
Here is the link to the site of the Roman baths. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/attractions/Pages/Roman-Bathhouse.aspx
If you visit London, I hope you can see them, for Jody and I never got to. We did see other sights, however.
First we visited Midsomer Murder country and some of the places frequented by Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby and Sgt. Ben Jones.
This is Henley-on-Thames where some of the many episodes were shot.
The Argyle pub is a spot where Ben Jones is said to hang out. Alas, not when we visited.
Our next destination was Cornwall. Our first stop was Port Isaac, otherwise known as Port Wen where Doc Martin has his practice. This was turning out to be the British television tour.
Jody went on to Paris and I met up with Jim on Dartmoor. On our last day, Jim and I went to London. It was a Sunday and I thought we would certainly visit the Roman baths. However, we did something better. We spent the afternoon in A Friend at Hand pub with Charlie and Georgie Knaggs.
Georgie is a writer who has also lived in Naples. We had both studied Italian at different times at Centro Italiano. And that is how I met her – the school suggested she contact me and, happily for me, she did. Georgie maintains a blog, https://thephraser.com. She is a wonderful writer and photographer, so I hope you will visit her blog too.
Maybe next time we’re in London, we’ll visit the Roman baths. But now searching for Roman ruins wherever possible has become a goal.