LIVING close to Bath, it is easy to take the city for granted.

A 29-minute train journey away from Swindon, it’s a short trip to what is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Britain. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, home of the Roman Baths (apparently Europe’s best-preserved Roman temple and bathing complex) and a Georgian city par excellence, this is a city with so much to offer, to the tourist, historian, artist, Jane Austen fan and shopper.

But having lived in the area for over 20 years, and visited the city a hundred times or more, is it possible for this beautiful town to lose its savour?

I’ve been challenged by Visit Bath to look again. Think you know Bath? they ask. Think again. Peek beneath the surface of Bath’s Georgian architecture and you’ll find a vibrant and modern city with experiences well beyond the ordinary; a unique, alternative and quirky side to Bath.

My Unexpected Bath tour takes place on a Saturday, and the city is absolutely heaving with people. It’s a cloudy day, occasionally spotting with rain, but all around are crowds of tourists all taking pictures and enjoying their surroundings. First stop is Brigit’s Bakery, off Pulteney Bridge, with views over Pulteney Weir.

It’s a fabulous spot, though I remember it as the Puppet Theatre Café years ago. These days, the interior is decorated with drawings of stylish young women, and the beautiful cakes are served on quirkily mismatched floral crockery. It’s a bit girly for me, but if girly is your thing Brigit’s Bakery would be perfect – there is even a hen party in progress.

Next stop is the Victoria Art Gallery and the Kaffe Fassett Celebration of Flowers exhibition. While I wouldn’t consider the art gallery unexpected – I’ve visited it often, and it hosts all sorts of brilliant exhibitions by many prestigious artists – this sumptuous collection of quilts and needlepoint designs is dazzling – a festival of rich colours and often gloriously over the top flowers.

Alongside Fassett’s work you can see mosaics and ceramic creations by Candace Bahouth. Few artists could out-sass Fassett when it comes to sheer nerve in the use of colour, but Bahouth holds her own. A slipper covered in fragments of mirror looks like it’s fallen through the roof from a fairy tale.

In the afternoon, we stroll up Bath on the Beach, in Victoria Park. Now this is something I’ve not seen before. The area has been transformed into a beach party for all the family, with beach games, street food, and a bar serving cocktails. Here, away from the crowd, you can relax in a deckchair or perch at the bar for a chat.

Next stop is the Little Theatre Cinema, tucked away in St Michael’s Place. If your taste in cinema isn’t satisfied by the usual mainstream offerings, you can see all sorts of quirky films, made independents or from around the world, as well as retrospectives and classics. Definitely one to check out.

Finally, we dine out at Framptons, in Grand Parade. The bar and restaurant is in the Empire Hotel, next to Pulteney Bridge, and I confess that, despite the hundred plus visits to Bath, I have never visited Framptons, or even knew it was there. What an opportunity I have missed: the food is divine.

I choose butternut polenta, with courgetti, chilli and olives (£13), and my partner has smoked salmon linguine with cherry tomatoes, dill, parmesan and cream (£13.50). My polenta comes with a courgette flower in a light batter, and it is astonishingly delicious. For dessert, a raspberry and passionfruit Eton mess (£6.50) – beautifully presented with a scattering of edible flowers, and almost too good to eat. Almost.

Although the place has a relaxed and casual vibe, the food is excellent, the service swift and friendly. We will certainly be making a return visit.

Our Unexpected Bath tour could have included many other interesting activities – such as making our way down the River Avon to Pulteney Bridge by paddleboard, making our own gin, a night of comedy, watching a glass blowing demonstration or a tasting session at innovative wine bar Le Vignoble, in Milsom Place, where you can try 32 different wines from self-service machines.

More Bath treats loom on the horizon. The Jane Austen Festival is September 14-23, with walks, talks, performances and more. Next up in the Victoria Art Gallery is an exhibition called Making Art Matter, featuring the art of Clifford and Rosemary Ellis.

Bath Children’s Literature Festival 2018, Europe’s largest dedicated children’s litfest, runs from September 28 to October 7 with a list of special guests that includes David Walliams, Philip Pullman, Lauren Child and Nadiya Hussain.

And of course, there are the centuries of history, the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, the Thermae Bath Spa and so many places to walk and talk and watch and enjoy. All this, just 29 minutes from Swindon on a train.

Unexpected or otherwise, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, when someone is bored of Bath, they are bored of life.

For more information on Bath and its attractions, see the website