Cheeese

I’ve always been intrigued by Cheddar and wanted to visit Cheddar Gorge so we managed to fit in a visit on our drive back to London from our recent weekend away in Cornwall and Somerset. The gorge itself is very striking, and we drove the full length before heading down into the caves. You can also climb stairs to the top of the gorge, but if you’ve read my previous posts from our weekend in Cornwall you’ll know I was nursing a bit of an injury and stairs were slightly off limits for me.

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We went into Gough’s Cave, which is over 500,000 years old but was excavated in the late 19th century. Perhaps the highlight was the fact that it was wonderfully cold – a very welcome escape from the never-ending heatwave! Taking photos in here was quite tricky, and I found a lot of the ones I’d taken were too blurry to use as the light levels were difficult.

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They keep the cheese in the cave to mature, delicious!

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This is Cheddar Man, a hunter-gatherer who lived around 9,000 years ago and he is the oldest complete skeleton ever to be discovered in Britain! I wonder what he would make of hundreds of tourists staring at him every day…

Unfortunately, now it was time to go back home, after a delicious Ploughmans with a generous helping of cave-aged cheddar.

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Destination Dunster

The destination for our final night in the South West was an idyllic little village in Somerset called Dunster. To get there we drove along the beautiful Exmoor coast, stopping for a drink in a pub overlooking a beach. Perfect.

We soon arrived in Dunster and were lucky enough to be upgraded to a beautiful room in the pub/hotel The Luttrell Arms. The room was gorgeous, the bed was comfy, the staff were so friendly and our dinner was delicious! Dunster is a beautiful village too, we had a wander around when we first arrived and it was easy to fall in love. We wanted to go into the Castle and gardens but unfortunately didn’t have enough time when they were open and we were leaving early the next morning. We will just have to go back!

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We ended our stay in Dunster with a delicious breakfast and packed up the car reluctantly. The prospect of going back to London wasn’t that appealing to us at this point!

We stopped off at Cheddar Gorge on the way home, so look out for the next post with photos taken in the gorge and the caves.

 

Stepping into Barbara Hepworth’s world

I’ve been a fan of Barbara Hepworth’s work for a while, but it wasn’t until I sat in her former studio listening to a Tate guide talking about her life that I felt a real affinity for her. She was a talented artist lucky enough to be in a school that nurtured and supported her. She was allowed to miss sports lessons to be in the art studio. When I was at school I would miss my PE classes to spend more time in the music room. From them on I was enraptured by her story.

Hearing about the people she met and spent time with, such as Henry Moore, and seeing their influences in her works in the room surrounding us was a special experience. I hadn’t realised that she had such a scandalous love life. She left her first husband for Ben Nicholson – living with him before they were married! Shocking, especially so in the 1930s! There’s lots more information on the brilliant Tate website. I’d like to read more about her life now, having been in her studio which eventually became her home.

 

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Tate St Ives is a stunning building but as we had little time, and it was such a gorgeous day, we headed straight to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden. We arrived right in time for a guided tour, I’d really recommend trying to hear a tour as it brought the place alive for us.

We spent the rest of our visit exploring the spaces. Peering into her studio spaces felt like I was trespassing on her world.

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The Garden is beautiful, smaller than I imagined and so crammed full of Hepworth’s works with views of the Atlantic Ocean visible over the town.

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As I think you can tell, I absolutely loved visiting Barbara Hepworth’s beautiful garden, kept today as she wanted it to be seen. What a special place. This was our last stop in Cornwall, and we had a long drive ahead of us to the other side of Exmoor – more photos to come soon!

Bedruthan Steps

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know about my bike incident. That evening, although I would have been tempted to stay put once we were back at the hotel, my boyfriend said that he wanted to take me somewhere! So I hobbled to the car and we set off on our mystery trip We were, in fact, heading to Carnewas at Bedruthan and the Bedruthan Steps. I had voiced my desire to go for a paddle in the sea but when we got there the tide was high so there was no beach access. Although upon realising there is a 20ft staircase to the beach I was relieved, as my injuries were quite painful that evening.

But despite all this, it was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I’ve ever been and I enjoyed trying to capture it with my camera while hobbling around – keeping well away from the cliff edge after my clumsy day.

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I loved all the colours and textures in the cliffs and could have stared at this landscape for hours.

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DSCF0410 copy Evening sunshine on the Atlantic Ocean, does it get much better?

I went a bit photoshop mad on the photo below, but I quite like how it brings out the stunning colours, although I’m sure this would divide opinion!

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Next stop on our trip was St Ives, so look out for my next post coming soon.

Getting back on the bike

On the second day of our South West adventure, we woke up to a gorgeous morning in a pub in Wadebridge. I started the day with a full Cornish breakfast ready to hire some bikes and cycle the Camel Trail. We planned to ride from Wadebridge to Bodmin, then  through Wadebridge to Padstow for lunch and then back to Wadebridge at the end of the day. The day started well and I was really enjoying the ride. It’s follows the route of an old railway which means it’s fairly flat and still has old platforms on the side of the trail!

We made it to Bodmin and then started the ride to Padstow, eager for some fish and chips. On our way we stopped off at the Camel Valley Vineyard. I tried an absolutely delicius sparkling rose and we spent some time relaxing on the terrace overlooking the vineyard. It was quite a climb up to the vineyard so we were looking forward to the hill back down to the trail.

However, for me, this was where disaster struck (and I’d only had a tiny glass of wine, honest)! I decided not to get off at the point where a very steep slope led back to the gravel trail path but it all got a bit out of my control and I ended up falling off the bike quite spectacularly.  I have to say a public thanks to the staff at the Camel Trail Tea Garden who provided me with a glass of water, TCP, cotton wool and a big plaster for my knee which was quite nasty at that point. Without their kindness and first aid kit, I’m not sure I’d have got back on my bike. However, I did! We stopped off back at the pub we were staying in where I cleaned my various wounds and put myself back together the best I could (thanks here to my boyfriend for bravely cleaning my knee wound…what a romantic break this was turning out to be). Believe it or not, we made it to Padstow on the bikes and the fish and chips from Rick Stein’s place were divine. I was surprised by the battered oysters which were unusual but tasty. We also visited the lobster hatchery in Padstow and the baby lobsters were so cute!

On the way back to Wadebridge from Padstow I stopped to take some photos, this was the most beautiful part of the ride and made me forget about my injuries (well almost – nearly 2 weeks later my knee is still sore … )

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Padstow was incredibly touristy and very busy but there were some beautifuly scenic parts of the town.

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Riding along the Camel Estuary was beautiful and much quieter on our way back to Wadebridge.

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I really recommend the Camel Trail if you’re in that part of the world, just try not to fall off the bike!

 

 

Returning to Dartmoor

Last weekend my boyfriend and I had 4 days to go away somewhere. We left it very last minute with the hope we could get a really cheap deal to go to Europe but Thursday night came around and the deals we hoped for hadn’t materialised! So instead we hired a car and set off to the South West. We were heading to Cornwall but decided to take a bit of a detour (one that ended up being slightly longer than planned, kick starting our weekend away with a classic argument about directions). Our detour took us through Dartmoor, we had both loved it so much back in February that we thought it would be interesting to drive through it at another time of year.

It was lovely to go back and to see how different the same landscape looked. Owing to our detour and the fact that we had a dinner reservation in Padstow that night we didn’t spend long out of the car, but we did stop at Haytor. This was somewhere we had hoped to come on our last visit to Dartmoor but had run out of time, so it was great to get to see this stunning tor!

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No, I didn’t ask that woman to pose for me! Makes it look like an image Visit Dartmoor should be using.

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The drive to Cornwall following this pitstop took us past Dartmoor prison and I was surprised at how it just sits in the village of Princetown. I had imagined it in the most bleak and remote region of Dartmoor. On our previous visit to Dartmoor I had asked the taxi driver about it and he told me that there were no road signs anywhere near the prison so that escaped prisoners would just get lost on the moor and die. I’m sure I’m not the first one to fall for that!

Look out for more blog posts with the rest of our wonderful weekend in the South West of England. It includes lots of seafood, beautiful blue seas and a not so wonderful, dramatic injury…

 

Staufen – a castle, wine and Faust

On our way back from our adventure on the cable car we headed to the main station in Freiburg to make our way to Staufen. I have to admit that I was more tempted to go back to our hotel for a nap but my boyfriend insisted it would be worth it, and it was! Staufen is only about half an hour from Freiburg, or it would have been just half an hour away had we not had to watch our train pull out of the platform before we could buy a ticket as a drunk local was having trouble with the ticket machine!

But when we eventually made it we headed straight to the Staufener Burg, the ruins of a castle on a hill surrounded by vineyards. It’s a nice gentle walk up to the castle and from the top, you are treated to stunning views of the Rhine Valley, the town of Staufen and the Black Forest.

 

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The vineyards surrounding the castle, putting us in the mood for some more local wine!

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Stunning views over the Rhine valley.

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After we made it back down the hill we headed into the town, it sounds a bit cliche but it really did feel like stepping onto a film set! A really quaint and beautiful town. Staufen is also known for its link to Faust, as it is said that Staufen is where he met his end – there are lots of links to Faust in the town including murals and, of course, a wine named after him! You might also spot lots of plasters on the walls of the buildings in the town which say “Staufen darf nicht zerbrechen” (Staufen must not break). Due to a geothermal borehole created to heat the town hall, the town is now at risk of literally falling apart. You can find out more about the causes in this article. 

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The red block on the yellow building above represents a giant plaster with “Staufen darf nicht zerbrechen” written on it. It’s so sad that this beautiful town is at such a risk of literally falling apart.

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For dinner, we stumbled upon a wonderful place. We had watched the Hairy Bikers on their trip to the Black Forest and they talked about Besen, so we wanted to experience one for ourselves. Besen are seasonal restaurants that traditionally open to use up a winemaker’s excess wine at the end of the season! You can spot a Besen by the broomstick outside. As we visited in May, we thought that perhaps this wasn’t truly authentic in terms of using up wine at the end of a season, however, the location and atmosphere was exactly what we expected. It was a large barn-like space that was full of locals and the food was incredible, and it was so cheap! We had wine and a lot of food and it only came to twenty euros. I’d recommend a visit but I’m not sure of the name of where we went, so just look out for the broomstick at the bottom of the castle hill…

Look out for the next blog with photos from the last stop on our trip, Heidelberg!