Bath's beauties

Although I live in Bath I very rarely enjoy the tourist attractions that visitor's to the city do.

Thermae Bath Spa

Last weekend however I decided to explore a bit further. First stop was the Thermae Bath Spa which opened Winter 2006 after years of bad publicity and severe budget-blowing.

It was truly indulgent and I would recommend it to everyone. The design is beautiful, fragrances are heavenly and the atmosphere is soothing.

You can enjoy the spa for as little as £19 (with a discount for Bath residents), which will get you a two-hour spa session and allow you to use the steam rooms, lower floor pool and roof-top pool, which is indeed delightful.

If you had more to shell out more you could have any number of glorious treatments or longer spa sessions which would allow you to justify hanging out in the healthy-minded cafe in your dressing gown.

Dyrham Park
Next stop was Dyrham Park, a National Trust estate located just a few miles out of the city.

During our first few minutes there I was starting to wonder why we had bothered. We'd been asked by a grumpy old woman to cough up £7.60 and then been thrown daggers by said woman when I tried to pay with a card. Oh my god. Scandal.

We were then almost beaten up by another employee raming National Trust membership down our throats before finding ourselves sat on a bus behind a little girl who was starring at nothing but us (why do kids do that?).

It got better though as the bus wound down a valley of marshmallow-like mounds, past grazing deer, and towards the great house.

The 17th Century house is situated in elegant grounds and was the set for The Remains of the Day (1993). Although the grounds were indeed enjoyable I'm not sure they were worth the admission price. May be if that price had included entry to the house, but no such luck.

If you intend to spend a day picnicing and playing outside then it is indeed worth coughing up the admission fee. If you're more interested in just having an afternoon stroll then just park up at the near-by Dyrham tea rooms, and walk from there, or just head on into the Cotswolds, to which Bath is the gateway.

And beware the National Trust staff.

If you have any questions about these attractions post here or email me direct at laura.barnhouse@gmail.com.

Bath Spa photo by evilnick
Dyrham Park photo by Olly Boyo

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Night at the Museum

When Ben Stiller’s Larry Daley finally realises that he must get a regular job he finds himself working as a night guard at New York’s Museum of Natural History. It soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems and Larry has to deal with far more than security alarms and precious artefacts.

In order to keep his job and impress his son, he must learn to deal with the hurdles that the job throws his way. He gets a little help along the way from his ancient friends.

Having seen the trailers for Night at the Museum you may well be forgiven for forgetting that this is a kids’ film. Starring almost every comic actor ever considered top of the game this is most definitely a film created with adults as much in mind as kids.

Dick Van Dyke, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais all star alongside Stiller in what would otherwise be a good kids’ film but little more.

The combination of this fabulous cast and the brilliant minds of Christopher Colombus (Harry Potter, Home Alone, The Goonies) and Shawn Levy (The Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen), paired with the animation instead make this a great film for all ages.

The predictability of the story is the main thing that marks this out as a kids’ film but that’s ok, this is a kids’ film.

Although you could quite possibly live without some of the extras Bringing the Museum to Life in particular makes for great viewing. It illustrates just how much of the film was produced using blue screens and that in a great deal of Stiller’s scenes director Shawn Levy was the closest thing to an animal in the room.

If you ever loved Jumanji then you’re sure to enjoy Night at the Museum whether you watch it with or without kids.

Written for Entertainmentwise
Photo by Matt Sephton

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The Holiday review

When Iris and Amanda have enough with the men in their lives they decide to spend Christmas on their own far away. They swap homes, cars, everything for the holiday. Soon enough the girls are getting back on their feet, and realise that going against your instincts can have the loveliest of results.

Starring Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jack Black, The Holiday certainly features an impressive line-up, but does it meet the expectations generated by these hottest of Hollywood names?

Its line-up is not that of the average rom com. For starters, Hugh Grant’s nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, on watching the film, it becomes apparent as to why Law and Diaz tend to shy away from the genre; it’s clearly not their strongest.
Kate Winslet is as brilliant and natural as always and her story brings the same snugly blanket feeling of comfort as Colin Firth’s does in Love Actually.

And Jack Black is in there for the lads. You may in fact find it worth watching just to see how he fairs in a rom com. Unfortunately though, while he’s great in the scenes that he does appear in, he’s simply not given enough screen time. This is a great shame as his bolshy loud-mouthed humour brings a sense of reality to this movie that none of the other characters do.

One of the major flaws of this film is that it is simply too cheesy, mainly thanks to Diaz’s character. Even the most seasoned rom com fan walks gets just-chewed-on-two-sweeteners feeling.

If you’re going to watch The Holiday with your fella then buy him pizza in advance. If you’re going to watch it with some girlfriends however, then get ready to shriek your lungs out.

While it’s unlikely that The Holiday is going to become one of your top ten films, if a heart-warming ticks-all-the-boxes rom com is what you’re after, then this is the DVD for you.

For entertainmentwise

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Alias and sappy romance

Thankfully the weather is finally getting better which may well mean that my entertainment consumption may start to drop a little. The last few weeks have been ram packed full though.

I've been to the cinema a couple of times. The first film that I saw was Freedom Writers, an MTV film about a teacher who changes the lives of the kids she teaches. I wasn't sure what to expect from this film but was pleasantly surprised. It's a great true story with a cool soundtrack and a lovely message. I highly recommend it.

The other film I saw was Music and Lyrics. I wasn't sure whether to bother seeing this in the cinema as the trailer pretty much told me everything I needed to know, but my Mum insisted. If you're in need of a middle of the road rom com then it's perfect, but I won't be rushing to watch it again. Grant and Barrymore and both good but the story is just too transparent.

On DVD this week I've watched both The Holiday (to review for Entertainmentwise), and The Break-Up. I was surprised by The Break-Up's atypical ending and found that both Anniston and Vaugn were good in it. Also brilliant is the opening sequence featuring photos of the couple doing various things. It's a very creative illustration of the length and nature of their relationship.

I finished reading The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets and found that my suspicions were confirmed. It was a weak story, spread over far too many pages and with far too little suspense. Although it wasn't your average story about a woman struggling in a man's world, it was still very much chick-lit, and despite being well written, is simply not really worth the effort of reading it.

I am now tucking into Empress Orchid, another one of Richard and Judy's Book Club books; normally a good sign. I'm hoping it is nowhere near as complicated as Wild Swans as I've tried to read that book twice and failed due to it's heavy writing style.

In terms of TV, we are just beginning the long wade through Alias. I'd never seen a single episode until very recently and as loads of people kept telling me how great it was I figured it was time to give it a go. So far I'm enjoying it and I can tell it's only going to get more addictive. Thank god for my mate Jo and her box-sets.

I have not really been listening to any new music but I have been re-discovering some old stuff, namely Blur, Oasis and Gavin DeGraw. I missed out on the first two when they were around because at the time all I cared about were Boyzone, in particular Ronan Keating. The great thing about discovering old bands though is that you don't have to wait for their next release. You can get all their albums for very reasonable prices from Fopp (the god of all shops).

You probably have no idea who Gavin DeGraw is. What a shame. He's a great New York singer/songwriter whose debut album was great but for some reason didn't really get very far. His melodies are chilling and lyrics poetic and he is perfect spring listening if you tend to enjoy artists of a Jack Johnson ilk.

I only discovered him when I was asked to review the album, shame no-one paid much attention to my review. Another great band I learnt about through reviewing but never went very far are The Honeymoon. They consisted of a guy and a girl and their album was striking, haunting, original and summery all at the same time. That too is worth getting your hands on.

I have a day off work today (yay) so Dan and I are going to Wells for Starbucks, shopping and Hot Fuzz set spotting. Hope you're all good,

Keep smiling; the sun is shining,

Lauz :-)

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