It’s a dog’s life on the Levels.

So we (LWD and I) continue to investigate our new surrounding in terms of finding suitable off lead dog walking, and I have to report that we are a little overawed by the amount of choice. We have trekked several routes along or near the banks of the R. Parrett, we’ve found a route into town by going around it, and a route on the disused rail line to Yeovil, not that we’ve gone quite that far yet, we stopped at the medieval abbey at Muchelney.

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We’ve discovered The Hanging Chapel in Langport, a 15th century chapel built on top of a 13th century archway at the eastern entrance to the old town. It was a fairly common practice in the middle ages to have a chapel at the entrance of a town so that merchants and other travellers could give thanks for a safe arrival or pray for a safe journey on leaving. It is a Grade 1 listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. The chapel is still in use today as a Masonic lodge.

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East view

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West view

Today we climbed the steep banks of the highest hill in this neck of the woods.

Burrow Mump is a 79 ft high tor standing near the confluence of the River Tone and the old course of the River Cary, joining the River Parrett at Burrowbridge, surrounded by the low lying land, maximum 25ft above sea level, of the South Somerset Levels. Thought by some to have been used by King Alfred, he who according to legend let the cakes burn whilst on watch for Danish marauders, as a lookout point across the levels. Today the views from the top are 360° of drained farmland, in Alfred’s time the views would have been of swampy marshes. A medieval church was built on the hill in the 15th century. The current ruined church on top of the hill was built in 1793. The land and ruin were donated to the National Trust in 1946 as a war memorial to the men of Somerset.

 

All that and I haven’t even had to unpack the wellies – yet …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Winds of Change

I’m still “enjoying” lots of face ache. It turns out that it’s entirely possible to have toothache concurrently with sinusitis. I’ve cured the toothache part of it by having the offending molar removed yesterday. It remains unfortunate that the sinusitis has settled into the opposite side from the offending tooth socket so both sides of my face remain sore – thank Waitrose for fish crumble and mashed veg last night, and mashed bananas and strawberries with yogurt for breakfast this morning.

Last week was half term and we took the Smart One to one of his favourite haunts, Didcot Railway Centre. We always go by train as the centre is on the old marshalling yards adjacent to Didcot station. We picked an “in steam” day but surprisingly the place was the least crowded we’ve ever seen it. This year there is an ongoing exhibition covering the part the railways, in particular the Great Western Railway, played in the first world war, in commemoration of the centenary of it’s end. I found the inclusion of two of the GWR locos and a couple of the coaches used as ambulance trains during that war particularly interesting. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to provide treatment to the wounded whilst in a moving train.

The GWR ambulance train

 

In the field.

These days the Smart One is allowed to roam the large site unsupervised, he had a hoot availing himself of several free rides on both “in steam” trains.

 

The two “in steamers” for the day

 

A few days later and totally unconnected to our day out, following a long family discussion, K handed in her notice at her current school and sent out her first applications for posts advertised in Somerset. Rents in Berkshire are horrendously high and becoming unaffordable for a single-parent teacher’s salary. In the area we are looking at we will be able to get a 3 double-bedroomed house for less than the rent on the current 2 bedroom flat. Apart from the rent issue there are other advantages to the move. We shall be closer to J&B, who are delighted that they will only have a 45 min drive to visit and to quite a few old friends of mine and K’s, including my Bezzies. We know and love the whole of the south west and for K and I it will be going home. The Smart One is a little apprehensive but there are several “outstanding” secondary schools in the area, he will be closer to his Uncle and to his maternal Grandfather and only an hour and a half’s train journey from his Dad. He’s delighted that we shall be close to the West Somerset railway, a heritage line which ends at Minehead beach (!), and is already putting forward towns and villages with stations on the line as potential areas for me to house hunt! K will be doing the hard bit, applications (two already sent) and interviews and I’ll be doing the fun bit – finding us somewhere to live.

Watch this space …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Soggy Córdoba

With the arrangement to meet up at the Aire in Córdoba vaguely set for “lunchtime”, Jo and I arrived from opposite directions within minutes of one another and had no problems parking side by side. An auspicious start to our few days stay. Unfortunately the weather continued as it has for most of the winter, very inclement and disappointingly unconducive for photography in a very photographic location.

Umbrella’d we explored the streets and monuments of the city …

The christian cathedral was built within the vast moorish mosque

The roman bridge and the decorative plinth to a monument

Jo was very taken with an artist’s studio and waterboarded him for details of his techniques …

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Wall art

We both enjoyed the many patios, indoor courtyards, some of which you could visit gratis, others in cafe’s costa cuppa coffee – but we were too mean to splash out for the “tour” …

Patios

Our evening of dinner with entertainment thankfully, did not force liquidation of our assets. Remembering the size of Spanish starters, we shared one (pumpkin soup) and also dessert (chocolate gateaux). Jo had a salmon main course and I, a lamb timbale. All in all an excellent meal – but the exhibition of Flamenco dancing that followed was beyond excellent, aside from the fact that as a Flamenco “virgin” I was totally awestruck, I was informed by a Spanish fellow diner that the Troupe was one of the best she’s seen.

Flamenco

We stayed for 3 nights and but for the unrelenting wetness would’ve stayed longer; still always leave with a reason to return, and there was still plenty left to see next time …

🙂 🙂 🙂

The rain in Spain

I’m getting a little fed up with wind, rain, thunder storms and gloomy skies – this is not what I signed up for.

Despite the weather gods’ tantrums Merida proved to be a delight. Following my recce of the first afternoon, I determined not to let the elements spoil my sightseeing and the frequent heavy showers didn’t dampen anything other than my clothes.

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The Roman amphitheatre and the theatre stand side by side at the top of the hill …

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The Temple of Diana is half way down one of the main streets …

The Alcazaba which started life as a Roman fort, took a new life after restoration by the Visigoths and finally became a Moorish citadel before falling into ruin …

The Roman bridge, adjacent to the Alcazaba, across the R. Guardiana (the very same that forms the border between Spain and Portugal further south) has not suffered from flood damage as has the bridge at Avignon and is therefore superior at 732 metres long …

Lusitania as it was called in Roman times boasts two aquaducts of which the St Lázaro (tho’ it wouldn’t’ve been called that at the time) is the better preserved …

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Storks (not butter) nest on pillars all along the aqueduct Los Milagros.

 

Spot the sunny snap – there is one!!

Well it’s sou’westers and galoshes on for another LWD walk then …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Wandering locally

I spent the couple of days before the Bezzies were at Camping Pinar St José, Zahora having a wander locally …

 

 

R&S arrived safely and more or less on time (by my estimation of their journey time) on Sunday.  I was out wandering locally …

The following day, as S didn’t want another long drive, it was decided we would wander locally along the beach to the Roman ruins. Out of the campsite, R said, turn left and they’re along there by the beach, after the bridge and before the village. Off we set along the beach; after three and a half miles there was still no sign of the supposedly impressive Roman ruins and we had reached the edge of the village. We continued, as we could see plenty of bars and restaurants ahead and were all, LWD included, in need of refreshment. After a further half mile we finally hobbled into a restaurant/bar, the only one open literally for miles. The tapas was OK, the wine was OK, the seat was wonderful!

 

We were chased back to site by some very ominous looking clouds which thankfully were not cruel enough to deposit anything wet on us. On arrival S looked at the map and discovered that not only had we been walking the wrong way along the beach, said Roman ruins were sixteen miles away in the opposite direction just outside Tarifa!

Fast forward 24 hours and we finally arrived by campervan at Baelo de Claudia! I forgave R immediately; said Roman ruins did indeed impress.

 

 

🙂 🙂 🙂

Tilting at windmills.

When I began this adventure one of the many must have photographic destinations was in Castille La Mancha. Consuegra and the windmills of Don Quixote fame. I didn’t make it on my first long trip to Spain – but I have now. It didn’t disappoint tho’ I did try to get other perspectives as well as “the ridge” cliché.

When I arrived there was a party of secondary school kids visiting. They were obviously having the “full monty” tour as there were two actors playing The Don and Sancho (no sign of the horse or donkey) and using, I presume, Cervantes’ words. Colour me amazed; they had the kids in the palms of their hands. Anyone who can do that to teenage kids on a school trip about a 400 year old novel, has my admiration.

I really must read the book …

🙂 🙂 🙂