up, up and away heading west ...
A holiday - time free from work that one may spend at leisure.
We recently returned from our eagerly anticipated short break down West, staying in South Chard in Somerset in recently refurbished outbuildings which provided us with all the mod cons, and a pub which provided us with a hearty breakfast each morning. A great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, towns, and ideally central for the equally appealing bordering counties of east Devon and west Dorset too.
Even though we look on these breaks as a chance to wind down, each day is spent packing in as much as a middle-aged couple possibly can!
Retirement - withdrawal from one's occupation, business, or office.
Britain has almost as many types of native stone as it has local traditional cheeses! Have you visited Beer Quarry Caves in Devon? If you ever do, make sure you take a fleece, it is extremely cold down there. Infact I developed a really bad headache and stiff neck which fortunately miraculously disappeared once I was back outside in the heat of the day. An ideal place to visit in the midday sun, when only mad dogs and Englishmen will go out.
Local Beer stone was used in the building of many famous buildings and monuments such as Exeter and St Paul's Cathedral, parts of Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.
The photo above shows just one of many carvings made by quarrymen, young and old, who spent long, tedious hours working each and every day in the most appauling conditions. Cold, damp, dark, and the only light being provided by odorous tallow candles. With wages poor, many of these men and their families would resort to smuggling just to make ends meet. With interesting and informative commentary from the tour guide, a local resident of Beer, much of what he said really hit home the fact how easy life really is nowadays.
Our next stop was at the properties of the National Trust, which nestle in the really pretty village of Branscombe, a mile or so from Beer.
The Old Bakery, with open fires and old baking equipment, which is now a teashop. We resisted!
The Forge, the only thatched one surviving in England, which sells locally made iron goods.
You can park the car in the village and take a short walk over land owned by the National Trust to the beach, where if you want to drive down there is a carpark, a souvenir/beachware shop, and a restaurant/coffee shop where we sat for a while with each other, and a cappuchino for company. A pair of swifts distracted us by going in and out of their nest, a residence most tastefully chosen under the eaves of the thatch. We also watched sparrows enjoying leftover crumbs.
We then spent about an hour relaxing on the beach, which was long enough in the heat of the day.
Walking back, we stopped off at the recently restored Manor Mill, which is now back in full working order.
Another very well informed tour guide told us the history of the mill. The grain used for demonstration purposes is provided by a local farmer, but unfortunately because of regulations set by the Foods Standards Agency, the flour produced can only be used as cattle feed. A great shame as it would have made a very tasty loaf!
On the journey back we stopped off at a working farm which just happened to have a tearooms and garden, where I gave into tempation and had the obligatory cream tea, a Devonshire one on this occasion. If you don't already know, this consists of two warm scones topped with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a pot of tea served with milk.
I just cannot return home from the West Country without having one, and am all for keeping the tradition going!