21-25 April: More sunshine and BBQs in the English countryside

Author: Mrs A

Location: West Bagborough, Somerset, UK

Now about to enter our sixth week in one location (albeit in two houses), this will become the longest time we have stopped in one place since April 2017. We’re quite settled now in our little cottage, continuing with our daily pilates, stretch classes and occasional walks.

We had an exciting delivery on Monday. Mr A had ordered a Cadac Safari Chef Barbecue – a perfect size for Truffy, and also ideal for tabletop cooking outside our little Somerset cottage. There have been some tasty meals cooked on here already, including bacon and eggs, real English pork sausages and fish tacos.

Chef Mark and his new toy

We achieved our longest hike yet (16km/10 miles) across the Quantock hills, taking us across new pathways and through picturesque tiny villages.

The very welcome top of the hill as we hike up Stout Lane
The next range of wildflowers are fit to burst – the bright magenta of rhododendrons flashes through the greenery
Up on top of Wills Neck – look how crowded it is?!
The yellow gorse flowers are so vivid you have to shield your eyes
Heading off through the Great Wood

We hiked across the hills munching on a packed lunch on the way, before proceeding down through the Great Wood. We didn’t see any other people for literally hours.

The ever-present buzzards are constantly being swooped at by plucky crows
Yes, the beech trees really are this bright and green
Don’t get fooled by the grey colour – this is a female orange-tip butterfly
Délicate colours of Dames Rocket
Our turn around point
A carpet of wild garlic in the woodland – some of our local village residents have been using this to make a pesto – I would love to try that out!

We wound our way back up the other side of the Quantock Hills from an area called Plainsfield, back into the Great Wood, aiming for a GPS marker Mark had plotted, the location for an Iron Age (about 800BCE) earthworks. Known as Plainsfield Camp it is suspected this was an animal enclosure, or perhaps a fort.

Grass covered banks surround a clearing (now covered in gorse flowers) in a rectangular shape.

Mr A feeling the magic of footsteps long past as he walks around the top of the banks

After a few moments enjoying the serene location and contemplating the people here more than two thousand years ago, we continued our journey home.

Wandering paths thinking about the many people who have passed this way before us
A short rest in an oak tree on the way home, reliving my childhood spent up trees!
Dusk comes late at this time of year – this is home at around 9pm, looking west
And looking south towards our nearest village, Bishop’s Lydeard

We’re managing to only go to the supermarket once very two weeks, and Wednesday was time for our outing. Supermarket shopping not only means restocking on basic supplies, but also picking up special treats and goodies. Compared with Australian supermarkets, UK ones are packed full of dairy-free and vegan, so quite exciting for me!

Having spent a day munching on all the new exciting food, we had to go out for another big walk to try burning off some of those calories.

Our winding trail – about 8 miles

Heading up the hill from our cottage, our first stop was the bluebell woods, as they are still looking stunning. In a week or so’s time they will be past their best and all but a distant memory until next year.

The sides of the lanes look like flowerbeds!
Bluebells are still impressive
Mr A chilling out and enjoying the ambience of the woodland
A little Great Tit flies down to check out the visitors

We continued past Cothelstone Hill (while a firm favourite location, we have visited often) and followed woodland trails and bridleways along the road towards Fyne Court, a National Trust nature reserve. We trekked along paths which wound through ancient woodland up towards Broomfield Hill.

This tree has likely been around since the Middle Ages

Broomfield Hill has been common land for hundreds of years – meaning it didn’t belong to a single person, but rather a community or collective for the purpose of grazing. Today it is managed by the National Trust, which keeps some rather lovely Highland Cattle on it to maintain the grassland.

The ‘hayland coos’ feeling the warm spring day somewhat
We are not the only ones who need to see a hairdresser in the near future! I should have brought my kitchen scissors!
Up on top of the hill, enjoying the lovely spring weather
More lovely wildflowers and wild strawberries brighten our walk home
Finding another pathway across a newly ploughed field
Views that just take our breath away

We ended our week with some more sedate strolls around the village, just loving the community we’re finding here. Chatting to neighbours over the garden wall about travelling and cultural differences, understanding more about peoples’ backgrounds and what brought them here. We’re finding that not all the residents have lived here long term, which probably contributes to a greater level of acceptance when it comes to the likes of us turning up out of the blue.

Mr A strolls across a field where we tried not to laugh as a startled sheep lost its footing and rolled sideways down the hill…I still have a chuckle at my memory of the sight! ?

Apparently this Covid-19 lockdown has really brought the community together, with people volunteering to help others with shopping and pickups, neighbours sharing seedlings and plants outside their homes, and engendering togetherness in the face of adversity.

Mark and I can certainly feel this as we stroll down the lanes, saying hello to others who are out and about too. Having joined the village WhatsApp group, we feel quite connected with all the issues of the day and have a sense of belonging that has been missing while we have lived as nomads these past three years.

All our walking and pilates has us feeling fitter than we have felt in a long time (we have walked just under 184km / 114 miles during the five weeks we have been locked down in Somerset) and we are feeling much more in tune with our bodies and the environment.

I hate to say it, but perhaps a little bit of good is coming from this virus after all?

Have to finish on a picture of these silly alpacas ? because they always make us smile…

3 Replies to “21-25 April: More sunshine and BBQs in the English countryside”

  1. Catherine, your photos are beautiful. We love your updates and so pleased that you are able to enjoy this period of isolation in such a gorgeous area. Stay safe and sending our best wishes for all of your future adventures.
    Cheers Deb & Hank

  2. Great to see you both locked-down in such a nice environment – there are indeed some good things to come of all this : )

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