A life less complicated

Having reached a crossroads in my life I am choosing to step off the treadmill that is my busy life and take time out to travel.  On October 5th 2017 I set off with my Springer Poppy in our motorhome (subsequently swapped for a caravan) ‘freedombird’ initially to explore the remote beauty of the UK and then – well let’s see……

Cheddar family time….

Well we have just had a fabulous weekend with all the family in Cheddar. Dad is staying for the week in a static caravan on the site next door, Holly (my daughter who currently lives in Vancouver) is sharing with me and Poppydog for the week, Paul my brother who lives in Rickmansworth, stayed overnight with Dad, Mike my brother, his wife Di and John their son, travelled up from Cadgwith on the Lizard, staying overnight in a B&B along with Tom (my son) and Meg (his girlfriend) who travelled up from Truro. Full house! Well it was around midday when the heavens opened and there were 9 of us and one very excited Springer squeezed into Peggy!!

Fortunately the rain didn’t last for long, so after lunch we took a stroll into Cheddar up to the gorge for ice cream.

The thunder and lightning rolled in and out as forecast and we just caught the start of the torrential rain, soaking us to the skin in seconds! No problem, we were soon ensconced in Dad’s spacious lounge quaffing Chinese and a considerable amount of beer and wine! A lovely, lovely day.

Sunday dawned bright and clear and after a leisurely breakfast (fat boy size for those staying in B&B), we again wandered up to the gorge, a few of us deciding to go into Gough’s Cave. No we are it having a group chat on the phone, we are listening intently to the commentary!

I have to say, it was ok but not riveting and if the £12.95 entry had not included tea and cake at the end, I would have felt robbed!

The cafe was outside overlooking the gorge, so we enjoyed our drink, watching the groups of classic cars and motorbikes travelling through the Gorge.

After purchases of local fudge, cider and of course cheese and a wooden giraffe! were made, followed by more ice cream it was sadly time for fond farewells and return journeys. It has been such a lovely bonus for us all to get together, it is not often that we all make it, apart from Christmastime and indeed that will be the next occasion- so thank you, my lovely family.

Paul did ask, as he was leaving, if I could make my blog a bit more depressing and dull, as he finds it hard to read about my adventures whilst he is sitting or standing on the London Underground on his way into work! Well Paul, I’m sorry but ‘no’, I am living my dream and will tell it as I find it!

Along Cheddar Yeo to Axbridge….

Another glorious day, oh yes this is just what we want, long may it last. We had a lovely 7.5 mile walk today, directly from the site entrance, we followed a footpath along by the Cheddar Yeo (river) for about 3 miles. It was really peaceful, just meadow after meadow.

Some of the meadows looked safe for Poppydog to zoom around and enjoy herself (which is always preferable to me being dragged along behind her!). To be fair she probably could have ‘off roaded’ most of the way, but to be on the safe side I put her back on the lead as we passed from field to field. It was so peaceful, not even a murmur of distant traffic, just birdsong to keep us company and we didn’t meet any other bods all the way!

We crossed a small bridge at Moorhouse Barn and turned in towards Axbridge up a farm lane.

And what a delightful little place Axbridge is?

Fabulous Tudor buildings mingle with more recent Edwardian houses around a small square, which on this sunny day was a great place to have a cold drink, share a packet of crisps with Poppydog and watch the world go by (and the buses squeeze themselves round the tiny little bends and rather random road junctions). The Tudor building on the left corner is King John’s Hunting Lodge, now a museum owned by the National Trust.

Before moving on we popped into the splendid Parish Church of St John, look at that ceiling!

We walked back via Cheddar Reservoir, which looked stunningly different in the full sunshine.

Even the ducks looked happier!

What a great day, this site is proving to be a hit with all the walks available, we haven’t needed the car at all yet.

Two thoughts of the day:

A heatwave has got to be at least a couple of months long before it counts as one – just saying!

Had to get the caravan manual out to work out how to keep the windows propped open! Tighten the knobs on the struts!

Cheddar Gorge Clifftop walk on the hottest day of the year?……

Today dawned bright and sunny as promised and after basking in the sunshine for most of the morning, we decided to do the Clifftop Walk, which is a 3.5 miles ‘strenuous’ circular walk. The walk takes you up one side of the Gorge, along the top and down the other end, then you cross the road and do the same all over again on the other side! For anyone considering, giving it a go, I will say the left hand side, starts and ends with a very cruel steep climb, whereas the right hand side is slightly (very slightly) less so and you have ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ as an aid (if you enjoy Steps, all 274 of them) on the way down. Also please note that the terrain is quite uneven and stoney, so at no point can it be considered easy going!

Having said all that, the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking.

Both out to the coastline of the Bristol Chanel, across to Wales and of course the other side of and indeed down into the gorge.

There were a few other folk, out and about doing the same thing, but sitting up on top, of either (or indeed both) in the full sun, with a lovely cooling breeze, was just incredible – pity I haven’t painted any stones yet as I would have left one on top of each! It was well worth the climb and I’m not sure who was panting the louder of Poppydog or I at points. I have the feeling that my face and shoulders might be a tad pink later!

At the end of the walk we resisted the temptation to sit in a pub garden to recharge, but carried on the mile or so back to camp and are now sitting in the semi shade, recharging over a well earned glass of wine (me that is, Poppydog happy with food and water).

Two thoughts of the day:

Was today the best day to go on such an expedition? Probably not, but I wanted to see the views on this clear day.

We shall both sleep well tonight! Oh and I’ve just got my flip flops out for the first time – oh yes!

The wind was whipping up quite a surf at Cheddar Reservoir……

Another grey day, but with quite a stiff breeze blowing, making it feel a bit chilly too! Still tomorrow is the day, allegedly! Today we thought we would follow the Strawberry Line (Route 26 cycle path) and head towards Axebridge – well that was the plan..

Something to do with being unable to complete this section as there are bats hibernating in a tunnel?!!! Anyhow it was a simple detour around a section of the Cheddar Reservoir.

We then rejoined Strawberry Line until Axebridge, which was a nice gentle stroll through a tree lined walk.

Rather than venture into Axebridge today, we rejoined the walk around the Reservoir at Axebridge Sailing Club and watched a few brave wind surfers who were out enjoying the brisk breeze.

The ducks however, were finding it a tad choppy and were cowering around the edge!

A tumble of black faced, scruffy looking sheep popped up to wind (successfully) Poppydog up – I am so glad I had decided to keep her on a lead! I am not actually sure what she would do, hopefully just chase them, but I always imagine a ‘Fenton like’ episode!

The distant Mendip Hills add a certain drama as a backdrop to the choppy waters of the Reservoir don’t you think?

Two thoughts of the day:

Now the heatwave is due tomorrow- is it going to arrive?

Really looking forward to a family get together here at the weekend.

Cheddar Gorge or cheese?….

Wayhay! The sun was actually shining when we went out for our morning walk.

It did however soon cloud over, but it stayed dry with little glimpses of sunshine, so am happy with that! Later we went to explore Cheddar a little more and found the old village to be a fun mix of shops, galleries and tea rooms. From the pretty ponds, streams and waterfalls in the centre.

To the Cheddar Cheese shop and an old fashioned sweetie shop with its own doorway for Oompa Loompas!

We even found some old skeletons basking in the sun, laughing at us passerby’s peering in at them.

And a wooden horse enjoying the view from its veranda, which it shared with an army of wooden ducks wearing hobnailed boots (was very tempted by these) and lots of other wooden delights.

Oh and we thought these Easter window displays in a tea room were delightful.

To complete our tour, we walked up through the gorge, following the roadside, as we seemed to have missed the footpath somehow! The Gorge us just beautiful, so peaceful and serene and yet incredibly overpowering looking up the sheer magnificence of the rocks. The only sounds are those of the birds up high and the bleeting of the odd mountain goat as they graze their way through the greenery, perched in the most precarious little ledges.

The limestone Gorge is in the Mendip Hills, formed after the ice age, with the river now running underground through the caves until it emerges at the bottom of the gorge in Cheddar. We shall explore the caves at a later date but for today we really enjoyed walking up the gorge and taking in its sheer magnificence!

Two thoughts of the day:

Jacob’s ladder, 274 steps up to a viewing tower (which is closed to refurb until the summer) on top of the cliff and you have to pay for the privilege! Might just take a rain check on that one!

Only a few miles (15) inland from our last stop, but very different countryside.

Inland a bit to Cheddar…..

Still grey, really is getting rather tedious! Just to help us along we had rain whilst we broke camp and more when we set up camp, in between it was dry!

Still once we were all set up in our new location, just on the outskirts of the village of Cheddar it was dry, so we set off to explore. Immediately from the site is access to a footpath that follows the river Axe (the old one apparently!) so though a little muddy this will do nicely for our morning walks.

Or as we did today, the footpath which is also a cycle path that leads into the centre of the village. We had a nice wander around, few shops, cafes, this rather charming monument and a rather splendid church.

Will no doubt discover more as the week progresses, but a good hour and half round trip was enough for today, it is surely wine o clock?

Two thoughts of the day:

Dead chuffed with myself for hitching up and unhitching completely unaided! And in the rain ☔️

Now let’s see if the weathermen are as good at predicting good weather as they have been of predicting bad of late!

Time for a spring clean…..

It started off grey, again but with very poor visibility as well but that was just a fob off and by lunchtime the mist had gone and the cloud was starting to break up – it never quite managed full sun until about 4 but it was certainly the brightest it’s been for ages. We purposefully had a good long walk and runabout on the beach this morning, especially as we were up and out before 7! Because I had things to do!

With all this wet stuff, the car and caravan (‘Maz’ and ‘Peggy’) are looking a little on the grubby side – time for a wash methinks. Without further ado, armed with cloth and bucket we set to – well Poppydog was no help at all but at least she sat quietly in the doorway making sure I didn’t miss any bits!

Eight buckets of water and one cloth (that will never recover) later, both were gleaming like new again.

What about the roof you say? Well I can’t see it so it must be ok, I reply! What about inside? Hey, I’ve got to pace myself, I am on holiday after all!

By the time I’d finished, Poppydog had decided she had had enough of sitting around, it was time we were off and about again, so I bowed to peer pressure and we went for a lovely walk along the beach in the almost full sunshine.

We even ventured out for a proper look at the mishappen boat.

A lovely relaxing day.

Two thoughts of the day:

A beautiful Magnolia just come into bloom, perhaps Spring is really here?

The smell of neighbouring BBQ’s is so appealing, but way too much faff for one!

Uphill – struggle? Not really…..

At the risk of sounding boring, it was yet another grey day – ok so it does sound boring and is – so bring on the sunshine!

This afternoon we returned to Uphill for a closer look at the village, which really just has Weston-Super-Mare’s golf course to thank for not being swallowed into Weston-Super-Mare itself.

The village is actually on the flat but we went uphill to look at the 14th C windmill, that has been made into a fabulous viewing point and beacon, which on a clearer day would have offered splendid views for miles around.

At each point there was an informative sign, explaining what you were potentially looking at and what else is in the direction but too far to be seen! For example in this direction Newport is 16 miles away, Liverpool 150, Edinburgh 325 and the North Pole is 3000! I like useful little facts like this.

We then moved on to the Norman Church of St Nicholas, perched up on top of the hill, but sadly now no longer considered safe and replaced in Victorian times with the current church of St Nicholas down in the village.

Up on top by the church, it was incredibly peaceful and thought provoking just being and looking (whilst Poppydog happily played in the grass). As per no one was about – ideal! On the way down, this sign caught my eye and made me think, but to be honest, I’m still not sure I quite get it! How frustrating, because it sounds very profound!

We then returned to sea level and had a quick walk along the beach, stopping awhile to watch the wind karts in action (not that there was much wind!).

As we looped back through the village on our return, a couple of properties really took my eye.

The Old Rectory

And a random cottage

Oh yes and the Bluebell Field looks about a week to 10 days off absolute beauty.

Two thoughts of the day:

These little village gems we keep finding are so tranquil and interesting!

The more I travel, the more ignorant I feel! Why were churches built in such seemingly difficult to reach places? Why is the architecture of yesteryear so much more fascinating than that of today? What actually is our generation going to leave behind, that will be of any interest for generations to come?

A closer look at Sand Bay….

Another grey but dry day – has the sun gone away for ever? Still we had a good runaround on the beach this morning until even Poppydog was losing interest in chasing the ball (well momentarily anyhow)! At lunchtime we made our way back to Sand Bay, parking up at the south end of the beach in a small, free and mostly underwater car park and went for a stroll.

The beach is probably about a mile long and like all the others along this stretch of coastline, sand that becomes increasingly more muddy, as you head out towards the sea. There are also patches of pebbles and a lot of marshland, particularly the north end of the beach, which is all grass covered boggy, sandy mud.

The beach is not very attractive, but great for dog walking as it just goes on and on. In fact it was very busy with dog walkers, so apart from some stone chasing at the far end, Poppydog had to stay on lead. We enjoyed a good walk from end to end and took a little detour to have a look around Kewstoke, but I’m afraid there wasn’t much to see, so after collecting some pebbles for painting, we returned to camp.

Two thoughts of the day:

Would these beaches be much more attractive if the sun was shining? I’m not convinced they would be.

Popped into Waitrose today for the first time in years (since I lived in The Offords 15 years ago!) but almost immediately popped back out again. Since when have you needed a dictionary to work out what your looking at?

Burnham-on-Sea to Highbridge along Brue Pill…

After another drenching this morning on our beach walk, the rain abated mid morning and though remaining unispiringly grey, stayed away for the rest of the day. At lunchtime we popped into Burnham-on-Sea and parked up at the far end (southerly) of the esplanade as we planned to walk along and over Brue Pill (a tributary to the River Parrett) along the coastal path. Well that was the plan!

We set off down the gravelled track, which though not particularly attractive, was nice and peaceful (oh yes and very flat!) and meandered along for about a mile. At this point according to Mr OS, after going around the houses (literally) a bit, we cross Brue Pill and start back to the coast along the other side, but….

As we squeezed our way down the path, which went on for quite a way, until after crossing the river, whereupon the footpath turned into a very muddy track across low lying farmland – sorry call me a fairweather walker but I am not squelching through mud and gaining a lagged Springer unless there is something worthwhile at the end! According to Mr OS, no such excitement loomed, so we plodded back to civilisation. We veered into Highbridge, didn’t like it, (too busy and built up) so headed back towards the seafront at Burnham. We cut through a huge estate (not pleasant) to walk through the rather grandly named Apex Leisure and Wildlife Centre.

A largish Park with a fishing lake and some ducks (unless I missed something!) and atleast 3 lottery grants worth of playing areas, all looking rather used and abused rather than cherished!

Why do they do this? Apply for some form of funding, stick a whole lot of expensive equipment in an grassy area, knowing full well that the council will never be able to afford to maintain it and hope that people will look after it?

It is such a shame, but to me it seems that this whole area is more about surpressing nature than encouraging it and even the fabulous stretches of beach, though mostly litter free are just grey and drab – am I just seeing it at its worst?

We popped down onto the beach for a runaround before heading back to camp.

Two thoughts of the day:

I hope the welsh side of the channel is more inspiring.

I guess I won’t be offered any kind of marketing position by the Somerset Tourism Board!