Finally, and all at once, taxi's drew up at the Station and I left Hubby to choose one and get our luggage into the boot while I climbed into the back seat. Okay, I fell into the back seat. And I have to tell you that I have no memory of the drive to the hotel. It's all a feverish blur. But before long, we pulled up in front of Duke's Hotel - the place I had been longing to be for months.
I peered out the back passenger window at the building and could have cried. Literally. It was perfect; just as I'd imagined it would be. And here I was, arriving as a hot, feverish mess. Sigh. Hubby climbed out of the cab and went around to the boot in order to wrestle our bags to the sidewalk, while the taxi driver came around to open my door. I was still cognizant enough to know that this was my signal to exit the taxi and I tried my best to comply, rocking myself back and forth in an effort to propel myself from the rear seat. At least I think I rocked, but in any case I made no headway at all. The driver stooped to peer into the cab at me.
"Look," I told him, "If you want me out of this cab, you're going to have to pull me out. I haven't got the strength to do it myself."
Somehow, Hubby and the cabby together got me out of the taxi and into the hotel, where we were greeted by a lovely young woman named Eliza. Duke's Hotel is nestled within the confines of a Georgian townhouse, with a lovely staircase in the entry and a reception room to the left. It is furnished like a gentleman's townhouse and filled with comfortable furniture, period fittings and artwork. What I recall most is that Duke's was filled with warmth and a feeling of home.
"Are you not feeling well?" Eliza asked kindly as I collapsed, all loose limbs, onto a sofa.
"I'm not. In fact, I think I may have died on the train somewhere around Didcot. Or it might have been Swindon."
"You came on the train?" Eliza refrained from adding in that condition? "Perhaps some tea would help?"
Oh, Eliza, you angel. I nodded.
"What kind of tea would you like?"
"Hot." I still felt as though my bone marrow had been removed and replaced with ice. I could not get warm.
Eliza bustled efficiently out of the sitting room in order to fetch the tea and I gazed around as Hubby put a hand to my forehead.
"You don't look so good, Hon. And you have a fever."
I nodded, expressionless.
"This is a nice place, huh?"
I nodded again.
Hubby went to peer out of a window. "Looks like there's a nice garden back here."
I continued to nod. A wooden Indian had nothing on me.
Eliza came back with the tea tray. "Shall I pour it for you?"
A raised hand. She gave me the cup and saucer and I sipped gratefully. Oh, joy! The tea felt wonderful going down my throat. It was hot and sweet and just the ticket.
"My pleasure. We've all been looking forward to your stay with us. We've been reading and enjoying your blog."
"I'm amazed at how much you know about British history."
"And the content. It's excellent."
"Thank you," I repeated, taking a long pull at my cup of tea. I was dimly aware of the fact that this was the point at which I should probably mention Victoria's equal contribution to our blog, but I wasn't up to the task. Sorry, Vic.
"And you know so much about the Duke of Wellington. He was a fascinating man, wasn't he?"
Nod. Nod, mind you. Now, as you are well aware, I would normally have welcomed nothing more than a relatively captive audience who displayed an interest in Georgian and Regency history, not to mention one who was also at least familiar with the Duke of Wellington. At any other time, I would have settled in for a nice chin wag about all manner of period topics. And all I could do in the moment was to nod.
"Let's get you upstairs, hmmmm? The Wellington Suite, yes?"
Oh, Eliza, you angel!
"This is a listed building and I'm afraid there's no lift," Eliza told us over her shoulder as we headed towards the stairs. I climbed the first three or four treads before I realized that I just might not be able to make it any further. I felt as though I might pass out. Good thing Hubby was bringing up the rear, I could use his body to break my fall should it become necessary.
We got to the second landing and I had to rest. My coat now felt has though it weighed three stone (forty-two pounds), at least.
"Give me your bag," Eliza said, taking my traveling shoulder bag from me and thus lightening my load by what felt like twenty pounds (or roughly one and half stone). Up we trudged until, finally, before us was a door marked "Wellington."
We entered a sitting room complete with a sofa, desk and television and then went through a set of French doors into the bedroom.
The Wellington Suite, at last! Eliza was giving us an overview of the room, where the hair dryer was, the tea making facilities, etc. etc. etc. but I heard none of it. As she spoke, I pulled off coat and scarf and threw them on a chair. I caught a glimpse of the townhouses across the street through a window but only marginally registered the fact that I was, at long last, in Bath. Sitting on the edge of the bed, and with poor, kind Eliza still speaking, I pulled off my boots, pulled down the bed clothes and climbed between the sheets with the blanket and duvet pulled up to my chin.
After a time, I realized that I no longer heard Eliza's voice. "Is she gone?"
"Yeah. This is some room, huh? Even nicer than London. It's huge, Hon. Look, we have a living room."
"Are there bath robes in the bathroom?" I asked. "There are supposed to be bathrobes."
"You feel like crap and you're worried about the amenities?"
"Only the bathrobes. Go and see. Please." Hubby came out of the bathroom with a terry cloth robe in each hand and stood holding them out to me like some two fisted corner man at a boxing match.
"Can you cover me with them?"
"You're under all the covers already."
"Freezing. Lay them one on top of the other over me. Please."
I felt the warmth and weight of the robes as hubby tucked them around me and that's all I remember. My head sunk gratefully into the crisp, clean and very comfortable pillows and I promptly passed out.
Sometime later, it could have been an hour or a month, I woke to find Hubby offering me orange juice. He'd gone out into Bath, all on his own, and found a nearby newsagents where he bought juice. There was even ice in the glass. I sipped. Nectar!
"They didn't have your usual orange, pineapple and banana juice, so I got this. I think it's orange and mango."
I drank some more and looked at my surroundings - huge windows, a desk, even a window seat. The Wellington Suite. I fell back upon the bed.
"Medicine," . . . croaked I, and passed out again.
The next time I woke up, it was growing dark outside and Hubby was sitting on the side of the bed and handing me a chicken wrap.
"Where'd you find that? I croaked.
"There's this great take-out place over that bridge up the street."
Pulteney Bridge, I thought.
"I've been walking all around Bath. You were right, this is a great City. And not half as crowded as London." Well, at least one of us was getting something out of Bath. If only Hubby's personal scavenger hunt would include something more practical. Again I collapsed upon my pillow and croaked, somewhat more forcefully, I hoped, "Medicine."
The next time I surfaced, Hubby had indeed found me some sort of vile tasting cough and cold syrup and a packet of throat lozenges. As I sucked on one, I noted that it was well and truly dark outside now. Our first day in Bath was gone and I had spent it bed, barely on this side of living. Cholera might have been an improvement.
Day Six Coming Soon!
Labels: A Couple in England, Duke of Wellington, Kristine Hughes