There is a long tradition of carnival in this area dating back, allegedly, to Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot of 1605 to blow up Westminster Palace and the entire government in an attempt to overthrow the Protestant King and reinstate a Catholic monarchy. The burning of old unusable boats boats in Bridgewater symbolised the unsuccessful attempt and reinforced protestant power and was performed each November 5th for many years until they ran out of derelict boats and started on viable ones; a halt was called to the proceedings. The event now is not limited to its Bridgewater beginnings and encompasses 7 towns in 14 nights commencing in Bridgewater on the first Saturday in November and the finale in Glastonbury on the third Saturday. (There are other autumn carnivals around the county but we like this one best.)
The modern carnival reinterpretation of this event started in 1881. It has evolved over the years into the Somerset County Guy Fawkes carnival season. Local carnival clubs spend many thousands of hours throughout the year (and up to £40,000 funded by their supporters) building carts (never call them floats here) up to a maximum of 30 metres long. These largest carts have a tractor unit (literally a tractor in some cases) , a trailer and then a third unit containing the generator needed for the vast number of lights and moving parts. These units are decorated to whatever theme the club chooses quite often something topical, this year’s most moving cart for me was the one depicting scenes from the first world war. This tableau (where the human occupants dressed according to the theme, remain unmoving except for short relax breaks at designated points) headed the procession of more than 40 carts of varying sizes. Not all carts are tableaux, other categories include the ones that literally bounce up and down whilst the dancers perform a routine repetitively whilst the cart is moving … The decorations, if you can call them such a frivolous word, are works both of art and engineering – roundabouts, swings, moving “animals”, spinning stuff, moving side to side, up and down stuff. This year’s stand out engineering for me was the cart with the car whizzing round a track that ran a circuit built above all the other scenery where the performers were dancing. The performers costumes are spectacular too. I often worry about the performers getting cold, it was brass monkey weather last night, but of course each cart has thousands of light bulbs belting out heat that you miss once each cart has passed.
In amongst the carts are solo performers, dancing troupes and bands all well worth a good clap and a whoop!
This year K, The Smart One and I were among roughly a hundred thousand folk, including our weekend guests a couple of first timers, boogying, clapping and cheering kerbside , duly impressed by the 2 hour parade, and donating money for local charities. K and I, delighted to be back after an absence of several years, both thought this year’s entries were the best ever.
🙂 🙂 🙂
Photos from previous carnivals.
It is a very dark night, the moon and stars invisible behind thick clouds. The wind is combatively tugging and shoving and the falling leaves are dancing as if in the Strictly dance off, desperate for a place at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. Outside the car the lashing rain stings coldly on unprotected skin. I’m driving K back from Castle Cary station where The Smart One has been dispatched on an already delayed by 44 minutes train to visit his father for the weekend (by the time he got there he was 80 minutes late because of speed restrictions, poor lad).
I’m driving at around 40mph as the roads are covered in huge puddles and what part of the road is free of puddles is covered in mushed autumn leaves, all waiting for the unwary to stamp on the brakes. My headlights are dipped as there is a luckily smallish oncoming vehicle, when on the left out of the darkness at the almost too-late last minute, I spot a large stray hedge/small tree trying to cross the road, I move as far right as I dare to try and avoid it but … BANG!
Storm Deirdre has resurrected the Curse of the Broken Wingmirror, 4 in 4 years. As the Curse obviously plans to become an annual event, should I pre-order a wing mirror for 2019 and perhaps some canapés and some fizz for the Wingmirror Wake?
Luckily no other damage to either the car or the occupants.
Y’all drive safe now …
🙂 🙂 🙂
The return to Somerset was pretty uncomfortable on an overcrowded train (is there any other kind in the UK these days?). No space for luggage, no space for passengers (or their long suffering dogs), and no buffet (unless you were prepared to trample over the people forced to sit on the floor); the heating however, was working. “Aha,” I hear my regular reader exclaim “result, given the current plunging temperatures outside”. “Not so,” say I “when the heating continues to blast out despite optimum temperature having been reached about ten degrees ago”. I texted an SOS to K to bring large amounts of water with her to the station for my arrival, severe dehydration was kicking in after three and a half hours in cattle class.
At some point in the journey several of us debated why, given the constant overcrowding of trains, extra coaches are not added to services and came to the conclusion that it is because the cost of additional rolling stock might adversely affect the annual profits and bonuses the train moguls’ so desperately need. Magnanimous plebeians that we are, we accept their need for additional millions each year (those tropical hideaways, nuclear/biological bunkers and global warming stockpiles don’t come cheap, you know) … and we sent our sincere thanks to the aforementioned moguls for a journey unusually delayed by mere minutes not hours.
Fazely Mill marina
Birmingham and Fazely canal
Drayton footbridge and swing bridge
My suitcase in the spot where Sally’s bed usually is!
The journey did sort of dull the shine from what otherwise had been an extremely pleasant few days with BB aboard the Blue Buzzard. We visited the Denby factory near Derby, shopped in Sutton Coldfield and tasted a few wines and gin at a local (to Fazely) vineyard/distillery. Unfortunately we visited the Denby factory the day after I’d bought a couple of bottles of the rather lovely vineyard product, and there I bought some of Denby’s rather lovely dinnerware products for R0X1 (well I have to make it up to her that I considered selling her). So I was unable to fit everything in my suitcase and be able to lift it.
I’m sure, dear regular reader, that you will be shocked to find out that it was the vineyard product that was left behind … not sure what came over me, I might have to find a vineyard round here …
🙂 🙂 🙂
My regular reader may remember bullet point 4 in a previous blog, “Adjustments” when I declared that a smaller Moho would be in my travelling future.
Several months and a restful, well since I finished the unpacking and sorting it’s been restful, period of reflection back in the West Country and I find that I have absolutely no desire to sell R0X1 and downsize. I will however, bear in mind time constraints on my breakdown insurance abroad to ensure no further “Arrogant Macho Peacock” occurrences; which experience knocked my confidence sufficiently to cause all the self doubts I’d been having, well that and a four and a half month bout of sinusitis.
The sinusitis ended very abruptly one morning in September when on getting out of bed I suddenly had a moment of dizziness and nausea. I controlled it, sorted The Smart One out for school and then went back upstairs to bed as I felt decidedly unwell. After a violent bout of vomiting the dizziness cleared and I felt better. A few days later I realised my sinuses had been pain-free for over 72 hours without sniffing drugs … and nary a twinge since. 🎶Halleluja! Now that my sinuses are pain free, Halleluja! Halleluja! Halle-e – lu-ja!🎶 (with a chorus of apologies to G F Handel)
The parts for R0X have been sitting in her underpart patiently waiting to be fitted. I’ve found a garage in Langport, the owner of which is very friendly and he and his wife have done some serious motorhoming; R0X will be having her new back corner and grey wastepipe fitted there, along with an MOT and service at a reasonable price in just a few weeks . And of course she’ll have to have a little test run after … probably down to see the Bezzies as poor R is virtually confined to barracks with a serious knee problem, the need of a replacement for which is urgent (no news to us) according to the consultant Orthopod. Having sold their old VDub, R&S were hoping to be making their first trip abroad in their new-to-them campervan early next year but that’s had to go on hold; R is, as always, very philosophical about it and looking forward to being able to do the trip, and many more, without pain at a later date. [She should also consider changing her name to Metal Micky or RoboCop, as she will after this have had both hips replaced, a hip replacement replaced and both knees replaced … my bionic mate!]
Good luck my Friend x
Half term next week and I’m off to plague Big Bruv and help him drink his gin …
“Reflections back in the West Country”
🙂 🙂 🙂
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.
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.
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 …
🙂 🙂 🙂
(My regular reader will have noticed my penchant for alphabetising frequently used names; Huish Episcopi being a long-to-type place name will forthwith be added to that list.)
So, we are celebrating our one month anniversary in HE, and what a busy month it has been. I have unpacked and flat-packed, tip runned and charity-shop runned, curtain hung and picture hung, shopped and dropped and finally have come nearly to the end of the list. It has been (mainly) great fun.
We welcomed our first visitors last week J & B came for a couple of nights and gave their seal of approval to the new house and area. Their journey to see us takes half the time it used to.
So with the moving and settling in over with and K and The Smart One about to start at their respective new schools, I can start to explore my new surroundings and decide future plans. At long last I have the new rear corner panel and grey water pipe so that R0X can be repaired. Once that is done she will have a service and MoT, deep clean and de-personalise and be advertised for sale. Hopefully I shall be able to sell her privately, don’t see why a dealer should make a mint out of me just because I’m downsizing. I’ve had a very brief look in one motorhome centre and quite am taken with the Autosleeper Duetto so far, we shall see. Long conversations to be had with The Bezzies methinks, after all they’re the experts on all things campervan.
I’d like to think that I can be back on the road early next year for a quick trip to Spain and then Holland, Germany and Denmark in June.
Meanwhile here are a few more Somerset views …
This sign near the river in Langport reads “The River ends at the Sea with mud flats – which can swallow you up!”; a humorous reminder that where the R. Parrett flows into Bridgwater Bay there are 4 miles of mud flats with the second largest tidal height change in the world. Unfortunately there have been drownings with the unwary being caught out on the flats when the tide comes in. The bay itself has much more ominous and serious warning signs.
Popular picnic spot
HE pumping station and sluice gate
Not for hire!
🙂 🙂 🙂
Had I asked the presenters/researchers from TV’s Escape to the Country to search for us, we could not have found a better property. Our house is fairly standard 1950s local authority architecture but with a few quirks, and my regular reader is well aware of my penchant for quirk. We’re in a cul-de-sac so no passing traffic and as we are no longer under the flight path into Heathrow we’re appreciating the quiet round here. We have a tiny patio garden, triangular in shape but which is going to look great when all the rubbish for the tip is gone and I’ve arranged the pots and other bits and pieces. Then it will take minimal maintenance, which even K will be able to manage when I’m travelling!
The unpacking and arranging of our goods and chattels is almost complete and the rooms are beginning to look like home. One of the advantages of moving house is that seeing your possessions in different surroundings makes you look at them afresh and certainly I am enjoying noticing and appreciating all our pictures and ornaments in a new perspective.
This morning, early to beat the heat, LWD and I went exploring our wider world and after chatting with other dog walkers and local cyclists I already know we have loads of walks to choose from; riverside and disused railway track.
Only sweet dreams round here!
🙂 🙂 🙂