16-20 April: Celebrating five years of having the “freedom to roam”

Author: Mr A

Location: West Bagborough, Somerset, UK

For those of us in isolation without young kids or a job to manage, its likely you have more discretionary time to reflect and think about what this disruption means to our hopes and dreams.

It’s been five years since I got a phone call out of the blue from the HR department of my last employer informing me that the business unit I worked for was no longer deemed a priority and would be closed down. At the time it was a shock, but I look back on these past five years now and realise it was the best thing that could have happened. Who knows how this pandemic is going to affect our ability to travel in the future, certainly our financial situation like many people, is more uncertain. Travel through countries that are going to be economically impacted will be more problematic as crime is likely to soar, and our mode of travel in a motorhome presents some particular risks in that regard.

But as my dad used to say, “memories are better than dreams”, and no one can take away our five years packed full of adventures both in Australia and across Europe. If we had stayed the safe path and amassed some more money, would these same options have presented themselves?

The first rhododendron flower

We certainly haven’t given up our dreams of more travel in our mobile homes, but we accept things may not be as easy going forward and we will need to adapt. Meanwhile we carry on here in deepest, bucolic Somerset taking things a day at a time. The rhythm of our weeks remains the same, with rambling through the multitude of footpaths that criss-cross the Quantock Hills the common thread that keeps us positive.

One of the constant joys is to better understand the history of the landscape we are privileged to walk through. On one of the regular starts to our walks past the local church and manor house in West Bagborough, we had noticed a massive stone wall enclosing a large area of land. We decided to try and find a way in, and succeeded to emerge in this huge forlorn looking space, with ramshackle buildings clustered at one end.

This cellar has a water pipe and some old rusty tools
We’d love to know the story behind this collapsing building, slate roof tiles on the floor
Fruit trees keep on flowering year after year

I’d made contact with a local lady who was one of the volunteers looking after local archaeological sites, and she introduced me to the rich source of data in the Somerset Historic Environment Record. Turns out this was a kitchen garden dating back to 1730, with quite some walls! No flimsy trellis for these guys, but red sandstone 4 metres high! Quite some protection for your lettuce leaves against marauding rabbits. This part of England is so rich in history, it is just fascinating to learn a little more each day.

Sweet Chestnut flowers beginning to bloom – a hay fever sufferer’s nightmare
Holly flowers and the first new season poppy

Spring is here, the bluebells are poking their heads out, and Catherine is in a fever of photography, which is wonderful to watch. We make up our tea flasks, lace up our boots, cast aside our worries and “head for the hills”.

Spanish bluebells are white
Délicate shades of mauve
Newborn lambs skip after their mother, their cute little cries just adorable
Beautiful scenery sculpted in the 18th century
St Agnes Well – dating to 1300-1500 – you’re invited to dip your fingers in the water here and make a wish…you can guess what we wished for…
Some of the paths we take need a little pruning on the way through
Spotted by a few of the locals (red deer….a long way away!)
Even on an overcast afternoon the scenery is striking
Felt a bit nervous walking through here after a rainy (yes! rain!) afternoon watching Stephen King’s ‘In the long grass’ film….

Walking is calming our minds and keeping us positive. One day we will be back on the road again, until then we can only be grateful we took the risk when we did to rent out our home, leave behind security and the comfort of the known and explore a small portion of this great wide world we live in. Five years has passed for me so quickly, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Finding serenity in our local woodland
Carpets of bluebells under the beech trees
Twenty Acre Plantation
Serenity
A very special place, Cothelstone Hill
Birds flit across our pathway, lined with flowering gorse
Walking along Wilfs Path…we wonder who Wilf was
Heading into Tilbury Park
Beautiful views across from Tilbury Park

One Reply to “16-20 April: Celebrating five years of having the “freedom to roam””

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your
    Lovely scenery. And for making
    Such good use of time .
    I’ve missed nothing but my gym during this pandemic. Working on building
    Strength by riding my bicycle around the
    Neighborhood. ( after a month of corona )
    I am blessed to have survived as it was a light case .
    Please , continue to write and share
    Pictures . I feel like I am there .
    Thanks again ,
    Be well
    Susan McDonald

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