Sand Point, North Somerset

North Somerset is beautiful in the sunshine, as evidenced through these snaps taken on a visit to Sand Bay near Weston Super Mare.

I climbed up to the viewing point on Sand Point and took these shots.

You can variously see a distant Clevedon, the Mendip hills, the North Devon Coast, Flatholm with its lighthouse, Sand Bay, Birnbeck Pier and the Ordnance Survey marker.

 

 

Lovely local lunch – Salthouse Clevedon

On boy do I enjoy simple, well cooked food! Just had a lovely lunch with Alec, Blanche and Rex at the Salthouse in Clevedon.

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Lovely pub nestled into Church Hill Clevedon, just beside the Marine Lake.

I had a beef and shiraz stew with dumplings, the boys had beef and Ale pie and Blanche went for scampi and chipe. Not a complaint amongst the three of us and I don’t know when I’ve had such a lovely winter dish as my stew.

Great atmosphere and friendly service. Really – what more can you ask for?

 

From Clevedon to Cheddar (and beyond) by bike

As a Clevedon resident and fan of green transport, keeping fit and healthy and of Somerset as a whole, I was excited and sorry in equal measure by a short piece in the North Somerset Times this week on problems facing the Strawberry Line Association in their efforts to extend the cycle way so that we could get on to it in Clevedon.

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Excited, because I hadn’t heard that there were serious plans to extend the path, and this would be a marvellous facility for those living in and between Clevedon and Yatton. Sorry, because apparently they can’t confirm funding without plannig permission, and they can’t get planning permission without confirmed funding. Not a unique story!

The Strawberry Line already runs along a disused railway line from Yatton to Cheddar, across countryside visible in my photo above, taken from the top of the Mendips. This provides a safe and pleasant cycle path, keeping cyclists ut of danger from traffic, and preventing drivers being frustrated by needing to share roads with cyclists. Individuals and familes can get out into the fresh air, enjoying the environment, getting fitter and not spending too much money in the process.

There is potential to extend the network so that more able cyclists can travel widely across North Somerset, from Wells to the coast. What a boon to local tourism that would be! Loads more people visiting pubs, cafes, shops and bed and breakfasts across the region, taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and enjoying local produce.

I would want to see the path stretch to Clevedon even if I wasn’t an Airbnb host. Honestly, is there one disadvantage to the scheme? If there isn’t, I can’t see it. So I sincerely hope that the authorities help to smotth out the problems that seem to be slowing the scheme down. Hopefully I’l be on my bike very soon!

And incidentally – how have I only just heard of this? Note to self – check local news and events much more regularly!

Good reasons to visit Clevedon

I have written often about the little things that make Clevedon such a nice place to visit:

the pier, the Curzon cinema, the windswept tree and the bandstand, the views, the walking, the nice people, the opportunities to spot places featured as locations in Broadchurch, the places to have a pint …

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but I haven’t talked about how well situated the town is for a visit en route from almost anywhere to the West Country or Wales, and now I really should, because we have just listed our house on Airbnb and we are hoping for bookings! Why have we listed? Well, we have a beautiful house, with rooms that we don’t use unless we have guests, and so which are usually empty. Some lettings income will help to supplement our other earnings (freelance writing, art sales, pension) and offering some Bed and Breakfast facilities may also help visitors to Clevedon, as there are not that many places to stay in the town.

Clevedon is well worth a visit in its own right, partly because the seafront is so unchanged from Victorian times, and partly because geography makes the place – the sunsets and the views across and down the Bristol Channel – just so picturesque. It’s also really handy for a day trip to Bristol, being just 15 minutes by car or 30 minutes by bus to Bristol city centre, and the glories of harbourside and the SS Great Britain, Clifton suspension bridge, the old city with the markets and lanes, and roughly a trillion great places to eat and drink.

If you fancy a road trip of Somerset, include Clevedon in a series of bed and breakfast stops, and take in the Cheddar Gorge, the Mendips, Glastonbury, Wells, Bath, Bradford on Avon, the Somerset Levels, Brean Down and many more places and attractions besides.

We are also perfectly placed if you are travelling to Cornwall from London or the midlands. It’s a long drive to Penzance, but from Clevedon it’s only about 2 and a half hours, so you arrive fresh and happy rather than tense and wrung out. The same thing applies for those travelling across to Tenby and the lovely Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

There! Regional and personal promotion over. Maybe we’ll get to meet in person one day?

Tyntesfield North Somerset

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Lovely day out yesterday, even though it rained, at Tyntesfield House, near Wraxall, just south of Bristol. You’ll find it – just check a map! Very well worth a visit if you like classic houses and country walks. The picture shows the stone bench at one end of the long avenue of trees. The house itself is a glorious Victorian gothic creation, on the side of valley with fabulour views. The National Trust have been restoring it since 2002, gradually bringing back rooms into use.

The grounds are extensive, with long and short walks to choose from. As always, there’s a cafe, charmingly situation in an old cow barn and there are lots of things to discover in hidden away spots. I bought a couple of second hand books at bargain rates, and they had a very healthy selection of plants and herbs on sale. Usually you spot some wildlife too, and often there are buzzards circling around, but the weather yesterday was a bit damp for them.

The whole site is quite hilly, so if you want to explore properly you need to leave your heels in the car and switch to trainers instead!

 

Photographic frustrations

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I’ve been itching to get out and work on some landscape photography, but recent weather and general business has been against me. Nothing half as nice as this pink pier which i took last year, but is still one of my favourites.

While it’s easy in North Somerset to get a great vista; whether your preference is for sea, atmospheric mud-flats, the architecture of an authentic Victorian pier, or a long view over farmland to distant blue hills;  it’s a challenge when there are frequent heavy showers – downpours really – and in between strong winds and/or bright cloudy skies that give a dazzling but difficult light to work in. The early sunrises and sunsets and unpredictable weather make it hard to catch the best of the light. And it’s a funny thing but the alarm doesn’t seem to work when it’s set for very early and the forecast is for rain!

Fortunately – or maybe unfortunately – I have had plenty of other things to do. Unfortunate in that I haven’t had the drive or the time to plan how to work round the weather to get the shots I want. Fortunate in that I have had lots more writing opportunities in the last few weeks.  I’m now doing some work for my husband’s nephew and am really enjoying it. It’s interesting because it is private sector based, whereas the bulk of my business writing has been for the public sector, and it’s going very well. The trick I have (some people call it a talent, and who am I to argue?) is that I am able to grasp the wider implications of what I need to write quite quickly, so although I will do even better work as I learn more about the business, my contributions are already being useful enough.

I’ve also finished the first draft of my first book. I won’t say more about it just yet, but it’s non-fiction and will just be published as an e-book. I’m really interested to find out how that all works. Plus we’ve been busy working on and promoting our websites Alecarte and Magsart. My Magsart shop on Redbubble gets plenty of views, helped by the fact that Redbubble are promoting their new services quite widely. It’s even more pleasing that our start-from-scratch site, Alecarte, is also getting consistent visits, averaging about 100 a day with highs of over 200.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, whether you wanted to know or not! Let’s hope we get some more settled and hopefully sony weather before the end of June.

 

Something not to miss … One Man and His Cow

Just a quick post to say I’m delighted to see that there are lots of dates for the new Theatre Orchard show One Man and His Cow in and around North Somerset and Bristol and, indeed, East Anglia and Yorkshire too. I’m a new fan, but having seen the fantastic The Devil and The Shopkeeper in March, I am hooked. You can see my blog in the archive. All I can say is, check the availability and see them if you can. But please make sure you save a seat for me!

Out and about in Bradford on Avon and Clifton

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I’ve had a lovely Easter weekend, thank you for asking, with my son, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend visiting. We picked them up in Bristol on Saturday afternoon, and following a beautiful sunny walk along the Clevedon seafront enjoyed a pint at the Moon and Sixpence followed by a delicious meal at Junior Poon’s on Hill Road. Strolled home under a star-lit sky, chatting all the while.

On Sunday we headed out towards Bradford on Avon, although the weather forecast was less promising than we had hoped. However, the road over the Mendip’s was gloriously misty and atmospheric, and we saw the herds of goats used to crop the plants on the cliffs that otherwise would overwhelm the natural rare species and character of the gorges. I hadn’t been to Bradford on Avon before, even though one of my ancestors was born in the town, and I must say I loved it. I have included just a couple of photos to give an idea of the character of the place, but it is just lovely. The same golden stone that you see in Bath, interesting shops, and great walks, boat rides and cycling along and in the Kennet and Avon canal.  It poured with rain, so we dived into a very quaint coffee house for shelter and refreshments. Then we drove back to Clevedon via Bath and Bristol.

This morning we popped into Clifton across the beutiful suspension bridge, parked up and spent sometime strolling around Clifton village. My son had to head off to Temple Meads for his train, but the rest of us had lunch on the pub terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel overlooking the gorge, basking in the beautiful warm sunshine. I saw a raven, but was the only one who was really impressed!

If you don’t know North Somerset, Bristol and Bath, I would recommend a visit. The countryside is beautiful with lots of good walks, and there are so many villages with welcoming pubs, so don’t just drive through on your way to Devon and Cornwall. Stop and say hello!

Catch it if you can – pop-up theatre in Clevedon

Clevedon from Poet's walk

What a nice morning: we popped into Clevedon, and joined the queue to see the Theatre Orchard production of The Devil and the Shopkeeper in a disused shop on Queen’s Square.

I had heard about the production through Twitter – having been sceptical, I am becoming convinced of the value of following local organisations to find out what’s on – and as I’m always keen to see local live performances I was determined to see one of the shows.  Everything was great, from the cheery, chatty queue waiting to get in, the equally cheery and chatty theatre people handing out flyers, the novelty of the setting, the skill and humour in the writing, music and performing. I won’t give away the plot – just go and see it yourself if you can! The mixed age audience all seemed to love it, and the applause was long and warm and donations were willingly given at the end.

If you are local and catch this blog today (Saturday 22 March) there’s still time for you to catch the 3.00 pm performance, otherwise they are back next Saturday 29 March at 11 am and 1 and 3 pm.  The show lasts less than half an hour, but packs a lot of entertainment into that.  Which leaves time to shop, have a coffee, or stroll along the sea front.

Well done to all involved – including the sponsors – for bringing such accessible and worthwhile theatre into the community.  I’ll defintely be keeping in touch with The Theatre Orchard to make sure I catch future productions in the area, and I’d recommend that you do too.

 

Clevedon – World Heritage Site?

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Back in July there was local news that Clevedon Council could apply for World Heritage Site status for the seafront, and although  haven’t heard any more about this recently, I’m hoping that they have.

It’s an interesting and on the face of it extraordinary step that would equate a smallish North somerset town few people outside the area have heard of with other world heritage sites.  The beautiful pier is a key draw, and you quite often see the town featured in film and television – most recently Broadchurch with David Tennant, but the town has had a small but devoted following since the days of the great Victorian poets.  Tennyson and Coleridge both lived here, and the locally famous Poet’s Walk coastal path is named in their honour.  Much of the town, including the seafront, is little changed from Victorian times, full of quiet charms. There are many vantage points from which spectacular views across the Bristol Channel to Wales and to the Mendip Hills spread out in front of you.  Try walking up (or down) the Zig Zag footpath between Hill Road and Dial Hill Road for some of the best.  If you are here in the evening, join the photographers who line the seafront for the spectacular sunset shots across the estuary.

We have the fantastic Curzon Community Cinema, which is well worth a visit. All the current films in a beautiful original interior.  Not to be missed. Great shops and cafes on Hill Road and in the town, and some lovely restaurants.  And a great number of parks and footpaths which mean that no road is a dead end and no two walks are ever quite the same.  The older streets are full of statuesque Victorian houses, in the main built by the merchants of Bristol, so embellished with individual architectural features which anyone who likes buildings will find delightful.

If you haven’t visited yet, you should. We are a 30 minute bus ride from Bristol. and a bus goes from Temple Meads station to the town.  Don’t expect wild excitement, but if quiet charms are to your taste, you’ll love it.

And we may be a World Heritage site by the time you get here!