Somerset – More than just Cider pt 2

Well, rain has stopped play, although hopefully only temporarily. We woke this morning to gusting winds and lashing rain and have decided at least for the time being to stay put. So, with the boiler stoked and morning ablutions completed I thought I should get you up to date with what's been happening. Which, given that there’s only a day to talk about, probably won’t take long!

First up yesterday was the lovely little city of Wells, which has the distinction of being England's smallest city. An easy six miles from Glastonbury, we arrived and negotiated the narrow streets to find a nice central car park, which also had the advantage of having some spaces. I always find this helps.

The market square was first and indeed the market was in full swing. No cheap tat from the Orient here – not that I could see anyway – but lots of locally and regionally produced stuff, from clothing to some stunning hand carved wooden furniture. There was some food too. Well lots. Breakfast was still navigating it’s way through my digestive system, but the sight of some truly delicious looking portly bangers brought on hunger pangs. Add to that the cooked meats, cheeses and pies and I was almost drooling. Still present are the kerbside gutters – the only other place I’ve see these is my old home town of Cambridge – and there they have been largely done away with – due to ‘elf & sayfety’ no doubt.

Through an archway at the far end of the market square was the Bishops Palace and Gardens. We didn’t go in  - and the moat and high walls made sure we couldn’t see inside but there was still ample opportunity for photos as we walked around the perimeter. Wells’ iconic cathedral could be seen looming in the background.

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Coming almost full circle – well, a sort of square I guess, we happened upon the uniform parade of houses in Vicars Close standing smart and tall with their wonderful chimneys. Built in 1363 they housed the Vicars Choral who sang in the Cathedral choir

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Another turn to the left brought in to view the famous West Front. It looks far more impressive in ‘the flesh’ than on any photo I could take but you get the idea. It would have been nice to see it bathed in sunshine, but hey, this is Britain.

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Admission was free, save for a suggested donation and I happily paid extra for a photographers pass. It was certainly worth it – I may be a practising atheist but Cathedrals and the like still fascinate me. The fact that they managed to build these with out the benefit of J.C.B’s, concrete mixers or cranes, never mind computers, is amazing. The architecture and attention to detail is simply stunning.

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Having had a good look around and, remarkably, not been struck down by a bolt of lightning, emerged back in to the market square for a livener before a stroll around the city centre. A lovely little cafe called The Spinning Wheel, just off the high street done the honours with a lovely coffee and scone.

There are the usual chain stores to be found but independent shops still hold their own and it was great to find some old fashioned hardware stores and ironmongers with assistants that genuinely seemed keen to help.

Back in the car, we skirted the edge of Glastonbury and stopped at Street, the original home of Clarks Shoes. The headquarters still remains although production is no doubt carried out far far away these days. An outlet centre occupies the site of the old factory with all the usual suspects offering their wares. We wandered around then grabbed lunch at a cafe in the high street before returning to Patsy later on via  a foray in to the supermarket for provisions. No local brew for the evening this time but some delicious Jennings Bitter from Cockermouth, up in the Lake District. A truly delightful traditional bitter that we first came across on our ‘British Isles Tour’ last year.

So, as I finish up, it’s still raining and the sadistically cheerful gits in the weather centre suggest it will continue to do so. We’ll see how it goes but it may be that the cinema beckons later on. This evening we are actually going out for a drink – unbelievably for the first time this trip. We are meeting up with a new and former work colleague and her husband. Vicky used to drive ‘posh kids’ before moving down here to Glastonbury just last week – and I’m taking over her route after the holidays. It will be good to catch up – and may be even to sample some bowel busting scrumpy too…..

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