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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.

Can't wait!

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!


Kris said...

Beautiful photos Louise! It just looks such an idyllic place. You're right though, we do live in a wonderfully easy time. Sometimes when we reminisce we forget just how hard life was for most people in times gone past. Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

You do visit some lovely places....and a cream tea....yum, I remember those (used to work in a cafe in Jersey when I was a teenager and made myself some totally over-the-top scones/butter/jam/cream combinations).

Christy said...

someday i want to ride a hot air balloon! thank you for sharing all these wonderful idyllic places louise.. :)

Sarah said...

Oh how wonderful! We are National Trust members, but we haven't been here. It looks gorgeous!Very olde worlde and quaint! S

Cowboys and Custard said...

Hello Louise..

That is just the kind of hols I love.. no stressing at the airport or having a white knuckle flight to some far off land..
I think our beautiful land has so much to offer ... so many corners to explore.
I am so pleased you mentioned Branscombe... we have been offered a caravan for a weekend break this summer and I am getting so excited about it..
First went there 7 years ago on a very cold January morn and climbed up through the cliff paths to discover magnificent views from the hilltops...
Fab stuff!
Hope you are suitably relaxed and revived for your country rambles..
Much love
P.s Thank you so much for the H's Birthday wishes.. I shall pass them on.

erin said...

louise...beautiful photographs. i so need to take a trip to the island. one day.

Susie's country cottage said...

Lovely photos. I really must go south for my next holiday. I'm all for keeping up tradition when it comes to cream teas too. I remember holidaying in Cornwall a few years ago and I think we had a cream tea nearly every day! But who cares about the calories when you're on hols!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Louise!
It sounds like you are enjoying the summer! This was a nice trip...the places you visted were interesting/beauitful and your description of Devonshire cream tea had my mouth watering...my weakness is scones!

funkymonkey said...

It sounds like you had a lovely break. We have NT cards and keep them with us wherever we go.There are so many lovely places to visit. Like you, I find it difficult to resist a cream tea.


Pretty Practicals said...

Hi Louise, gorgeous pics as always. Thanks for dropping by my blog, it feels like ages since we've been a-visiting... probably not, probably like me you fly by on occasions. Hope all is well, chat soon, Liz

Rosie said...

I've really enjoyed this post - what interesting places you visited - your photos are lovely - love scones and jam so the cream tea sounds a perfect end to the day:)

silverpebble said...

What a gorgeous little trip you just took us on! Beautiful photos. I'm with you on the cream teas - it HAS to be done.

Carol said...

I love the west country and spent so many happy childhood holidays there. There is nothing like a Devon cream tea is there!
We are so lucky we have The National Trust to look after our beautiuful countryside,coast and property,

A Bun Can Dance said...

Hello Louise
I loved reading about your trip to the West Country, it sounds action packed! Even though it is not far away, I don't know Chard very well, but it sounds as though you had a good place to stay for your explorations.
Wishing you a happy weekend ahead,
Denise x