Mike James

Food tour guide

Who are you?

I moved to Bath after previously living in London and Yorkshire and I’ve worked in tourism since the early 1990s, mostly tour managing with package travel groups but also as a guide with people from all over the world!  I also had a short-lived career in the theatre industry but in 2004 I decided to focus on my travel career so I could experience the world and then come home to the UK where I would make internationally inspired works of theatre… that didn’t really work out as I ended up travelling just in the UK and Ireland and loving it so much that I now just travel internationally for leisure purposes, and I’ve knocked my theatrical aspirations on the head and don’t really miss it… as a tour guide, I guess the show goes on every day!!

 

What makes you say:

“Mmmmm!”
Savoury option is my Mum’s lasagne, or my partners Chicken & Chorizo Jambalaya!… sweet option would be sticky toffee pudding, but I’m very judgemental about it!  There has to be lots of toffee sauce, the stickier the better, and there has to be a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side made with real vanilla pods!  Not that I’m picky or anything.

“Eugh!”
Beetroot… I know… I’m just weird ok!  Everyone I know loves beetroot, and while I’m generally someone who’ll eat anything put in front him, I’m just really not a fan of beetroot. Even weirder though, a couple of years ago, I tried the best thing I’ve ever tasted which was an amuse-bouche at a really lovely restaurant near Bath… it was pickled cucumber with red cabbage water, and a beetroot sorbet and even though it was really small it was just incredible – I’ll never forget it!

“That’s weird!”
I once tried jellyfish in a cold salad… we didn’t know what it was at first as we’d not noticed it on the menu when we ordered.  It was good, but based on the texture and taste we’d originally thought it was just a bit of water-chestnut!

“I love leading food tours mostly because…”
I love that food brings people together.  There’s something very primeval about people sitting around a table and eating or drinking together which somehow forces people to communicate and (more often than not) finding common interests.  Sharing food like this and seeing people come together around the table is something which really makes me happy.

“I love Bath because…”
After 8 years I still feel like a newcomer to Bath but strangely I somehow also feel like I’ve lived here all my life.  I’ve found it to be a really welcoming city with an incredibly diverse population of different people who all generally mix together really well (notable exceptions of course!).  It’s a city where I made friends quickly and felt at home even quicker and after moving around lots for the first 40 years of my life, I feel really settled and have every intention of staying here!

“My fave place in the city…”
A bench in Royal Victoria Park opposite The Royal Crescent… it’s where I proposed in 2015… awwwwww!

“My favourite Savouring Bath tour is…”
Flavours of Bath… because it was my very own pet project which I created when I first qualified as a south west tourist guide in 2014… long before I came to Savouring Bath!  We’ve tweaked it and bolstered it with higher quality tastings since then, but essentially it’s a mad dash through the city’s culinary history with a 50/50 focus on the food and the stories behind the food, suppliers, and characters who shaped Bath’s culinary scene in the 18th century.  I love that every food has a historical saga behind it, and some lovely anecdotal stories – I especially the character of Mr Gill who was so famous for his soups, pastries, & raspberry tarts which he sold near Bath Abbey.  He was so renowned that he not only got a mention by Jane Austen, but also a whole poem written about him by another of Bath’s historical literary figures called Christopher Anstey!