Sunday, 28 November 2010

Baths and motor cars

Some backtracking . . . Last week I revisited the gorgeous Georgian town of Bath after 17 years. Once again I was blown away. The Roman baths museum and archeological site have come a long way since I was there last. An audio guide provided heaps of information, and the technologies used to recreate Roman times (dramatised scenes projected onto screens/walls, digital graphical recreations of the baths and temple) were fabulous. We spent two hours exploring first the museum and temple complex, then the baths themselves. We also took a self-guided walking tour of Bath, exploring just about all the famous corners, and finished up with a traditional afternoon tea in the Pump Room. I love the layers of history in Bath: pre-Roman, Roman, medieval (when they transformed the Roman sacred spring into the King's Bath, used by the monks for healing), and then Georgian (when they strolled the Pump Room and sipped the waters, without any knowledge of the extensive baths complex below).

Another treat last week was a visit to the premises of the Morgan Motor Company. These sports cars are hand-made -- yes, made by hand -- by a small, family owned company in the Malvern Hills. There are two main models: 1) traditional sports cars, which have a timber-framed chassis that is plated with sheets of aluminium, 2) aero models, which have a double-bonded aluminium chassis with super-formed aluminium panels (essentially blow moulded). The traditional cars haven't changed much in appearance since the 1960s, and have been made the same way since forever (although formerly with steel). Each specalist craftsman works on a single car at a time, completing it to a point, before handing it onto the next guy to do his bit. There's not a production line or robot in sight, and the care, pride and passion throughout the 'factory' is wonderful to behold. I found the whole experience fascinating. Apparently the cars go really fast too...

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