How I could get use to the gentle way of life. In particular the quintessentially English ways of whiling away the hours in the South West. Regular readers will know that I am fond, very fond indeed, of our jaunts down the M5, not only to see delightful people who happen to lodge therein but to experience days very much missing in my other walks of life.
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!
On our travels around we were taken to a fabled cider farm, well, we were in Somerset, it would be rude not to! Wilkins’ Cider Farm is possibly one of the most unique and surreal experiences of my life to date. Nestled at the end of a dirt track, sign posted by hand scrawled scraps of card and wood, hidden from the world by hedgerows and fields is the working farm belonging to Roger Wilkins. There are no heirs or graces down on this farm, it is a self serve, honesty based cider-system were punters help themselves from the several large barrels lined up in Roger’s shippon. Either dry or sweet (or make a mix to your own taste) you can take some of this beautiful, traditional cider home in pretty much any container you can lay your hands on. The prices are ridiculously reasonable as Roger sees it as his charity to the ‘young uns’ because after all, we can’t afford to pay the ‘silly prices of those bars in town’! One particular groups of lads on a 30th birthday seemed to agree having cycled in fancy dress on tandems and assorted other bicycle contraptions, all the way from Weston-Super-Mare, some 15 miles away! While convicts and drag queens and cow boys and clowns sat lounging on a few plastic chairs in the yard (furniture is an unnecessary luxury at Wilkin’s Farm) we sat more than comfortably in the open, working, hay barn – like no other pub on the planet! So very bizarre, and so much busier than we ever expected it to be! But if it were not already a little bonkers, this bizarre drunken corner of Somerset, farmer Wilkins had to abandon his conversations to go and calve a cow. Mad. Yet utterly brilliant!
But that is not all. It was as if on the drive down on Friday night we had written every possible activity which would be a British Summer cliché. Cream teas, mad farmers, sozzling cider and amazing countryside were only part of the list. To make it complete we needed boys with a barbecue, cricket and strawberries and cream – which of course, for we English, was not a problem . . .
As the rain now falls, we have possibly had our summer here in the UK, but it matters not. I have had the most marvellous of weekends absolutely saturated in summer. I returned completely relaxed and slightly blue that our fun in the sunshine was over for another visit. A perfect weekend. Simply, perfect.