Posted by: Natalie | November 8, 2010

Bonfire Weekend

Here in the UK, every November 5th, we celebrate Bonfire Night, dating from 1605 when a terrorist plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James was foiled. James I ordered the original celebrations to show his strength to all who might betray him, to show that the English (and Scottish) monarchy were indeed a force to be reckoned with.

It may seem a little perverse to still salute a 400 year old ‘cock up’, particularly as we are not as Royalist as once upon a time, but as you may know, we love a reason to get together. This year, Steve and I went to see our dear friends Lynne and Pete in Somerset, and had a jolly old day out in Cheddar (yes, where the cheese comes from). Along with their little Jack Russell, Scrumpy, we we had a good old West Country wander involving caves, cider, fresh air and of course, a fabulous bonfire party.

Cheddar Caves and Gorge are truly spectacular. Not only is the gorge crammed with curios, cheese shops and tea rooms (and crazy golf!), but it offers one of the most amazing natural wonders you can find. The caves meander along the ancient river bed of the still winding trickle and were formed in the main part by the last ice age. The limestone has been carved throughout the centuries by running and flooding water to create an incredible grotto like wonderland which was uncovered at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The real skeleton of Cheddar Man was obviously removed to be protected, but this was the place and position in which he was found.

It was also home to ‘Cheddar Man’, thought to be the oldest known remains being approximately 9000 years old. My favourite fact of the weekend? Apparently Cheddar Man’s DNA was tested only to discover a direct descendant still living in the local area! Brilliant! And if you do find yourself a wandering the gorge any time, I would highly recommend the cream tea at The Wishing Well – be prepared to take your cake stomach with you!

We climbed Jacob’s ladder but sadly the weather and light got the better of us and the cliff top walk has been reserved for another day. One of the bonuses of Cheddar Gorge’s ticket is it’s open ten year use. That’s right, fail to get in all the activities in a day then you can simply keep your tickets until you are next in the area; smashing! As if Steve and I needed an excuse.

As for the bonfire celebrations, we went to a tiny Somerset village called Priddy. The local committee had arranged and put on their annual bonfire event with fireworks, bouncy slides, barbecue and the finest hot mulled cider (too good – I may have had a couple). All visitors paid a charitable donation on entry, hopefully making plenty as over a thousand people must have gathered on the field. The atmosphere was wonderful, warm and comforting with the sound of children’s laughter bouncing around. The cold stayed mostly at bay, as did the rain and we were able to enjoy the silliness that the season allows.

It was all so terribly quaint, children made guys which were judged for prizes of sweets. Children and adults engaged, tossing their varied horror-film guys into the flames of a slightly sodden bonfire (I was amazed it took light!) while others mingled together by the bar or on the small selection of fair ground rides. For us, we stood hugging our cups of hot cider and ate home made flap jacks under the scent of deep autumn; mud and smoke and cold. It was wonderful – so very far from the original idea of Bonfire Night, but a great opportunity to celebrate a coming together of friends, of family in a spirit so often lacking in every day life. Happy times!

I am now going to attempt to incorporate a slide show of my weekend – here goes nothing . . .!

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  1. What a fabulous weekend! I love the slide show – very creative. How did you make it? (Just because I can imagine adding one to a post in future 😉 )

    • The slide show was really easy actually. You’re using wordpress aren’t you? Just attach all the photos you want to use in your slide show using the traditional means. Instead of inserting each image, just save all changes. Then in the blog text type [slideshow] where you want it to be. Et Voila! Shiny moving pictures! So fancy!

  2. Seemed like a lot of fun. I spent most of my weekend hiding in my house. Love the pictures!

  3. […] Back in November we visited Cheddar Gorge with the wonderful Lynne, Pete and Scrumpy, taking in the age and wonder of the caves which were largely uncovered during the nineteenth century. Being a little tourist trap, yet outstandingly beautiful, we were treated to a surprisingly quiet few hours taking in tea rooms (scones with jam and clotted cream! Om nom nom nom), perusing the museum and taking an open top bus tour up the cliff lined meanders which was once a river bed. The weather was kind, the clotted cream luxurious and the company, as ever, superb. If you ever get the opportunity to visit, not only would I recommend the Cheddar Gorge visitors attractions, but I would whole heartedly and ever so highly recommend The Wishing Well Tea Rooms – the home made selection of meats, soups and sandwiches and very nice, but it is their home made cake selections and cream teas which are absolute heaven. Take away boxes for any uneaten cake are freely given if the selection defeats you! […]

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