Sunday, 20 April 2014

visiting Somerset

We went to Somerset during the Easter holidays, and enjoyed sun, fun, and cider with my family.

Have you been?  It's so worth a visit, and not just for the weather, or the cider (although both are good).

We did a few visits while we were there, so I thought I'd tell you about them, in the hopes of helping you plan your Somerset holiday.  But before I do, a quick plug for the place we stayed - it was a self catering cottage just outside Frome, run by Executive Holidays.  Nice, well provided for, and just not perfect enough to make it affordable.  I would recommend them (although it was rubbish that they charged extra for wifi).  

So here's where we went, and what we thought of it.

This was a great visit, although it is quite dear.  We saved money by using our Tesco vouchers.  The safari park was fab, we especially enjoyed the worried look on Auntie Julia's face as she entered the monkey enclosure (they are adept at removing car aerials).  We had a chance to feed the giraffes, and loved seeing the lemurs enjoying the sunshine.  Happily, our car did not catch fire in the lion enclosure, but how scary would that be?!  The lions were big and beautiful, but the tigers were bigger and won the big cat competition in our book.  Once out of the safari bit, we really enjoyed the maze, and the outdoor play area. Much of the outdoor play area was actually closed, while they were doing work on it.  It looks like it's going to be great.  We had lots of things to do, and so didn't manage to look at Longleat house, but a very good day was had. Take a camera.

Wells Cathedral is fabulous

Wells is such a nice place.  Lots of nice cafe's, a fun and friendly market, and lots of history too.  We didn't visit the Bishop's Palace, although it did look nice, but we did visit Wells Cathedral.  You have to pay £3 to take photos but it is so worth it.  It's full of glorious light, and wonderful spaces.  I particularly loved this staircase, which leads up to The Chapterhouse on the right.  The Chapterhouse has amazing acoustics, and I longed to sing in there (but didn't because there was someone else in there).  Unlike York Cathedral, you don't have to pay to go into Wells Cathedral, so we were happy to make a donation, and pay for the kids to light votive candles for those that had passed.  My awesome nephew decided to light a candle for God, because he was the only person he could think of who was dead.

Cheddar Gorge was recommended to us by my Mum, and it was a good visit.  The Gorge is lovely, and you can see how it inspired Tolkien for Helm's Deep.  The caves were big, and alright, but not a patch on more beautiful caves in other parts of the UK (like Stump Cross Caverns in Yorkshire).  There's a museum, which is pretty good, and sparked some interesting questions (I have no idea how they proved that a local history teacher was descended from Cheddar man through mitochondrial DNA - I'm assuming they meant they shared a common ancestrix?).  There was a man at the museum who showed us how to do flint napping, and was excellent with the children.  He so inspired my son that we now have stone-age style weapons that he's made, and I found myself shouting "put that arrow down - we don't wave arrows in people's faces" earlier today.  The trouble with Cheddar Gorge was the outrageous pricing.  It really is very expensive for what it is.  Happily, you can get tickets through Tesco, if you've got enough vouchers, and I'd recommend doing that.

Nunney is a beautiful, very small, village.  There is a cafe, but not much else apart from Nunney Castle, which there is not much to, but it is free, and it's a good wee visit.  Up the hill from the castle is a car park, and a grassy area which was great for a game of frisbee, and would be good for a picnic.  We were really glad to go to Nunney, it's got a lovely atmosphere, and it's always good to do something free!  It's also not far from Frome, which is amazing for shopping...

Another lovely town, Frome is jam-packed with nice pubs and good shops.  Watch out for Catherine Street, it's full of really good little shops which are very difficult to walk past.  I bought a lovely new bag, and Kenny breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't fit into any of the marvellous dresses.

There are lots of other places to visit in Somerset, and I've have loved to have gone to more of them, but that was all we had time for.  We also enjoyed plenty of Cheddar cheese and lots of yummy cider.  

Have you been to Somerset?  Where would you recommend?

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