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The West Country

As always - click on one of the pictures on the left to see a bigger picture.

We stayed at an adult only campite called in Sparkford just outside Yeovil.  It was a fairly small site, quiet and well looked after, there is a 24 hour petrol station and shop, a McDonald's and a pub in  walking distance.  What more does one need?  We ate at the pub, The Sparkford Inn,  on the first evening,  I had some gammon in an onion sauce while Ari had lamb.  We both had a very chocolaty thing for dessert.  The menu had a couple of interesting dishes on, the food was well cooked, and presented in a pleasantly relaxed way.  It is well worth a visit.  The pub didn't seem to have a lot of customers, although on Sunday evening they had a karaoke.  Again there weren't many customers - so Ari and I got to sing as lot.  The few  people who were in there were having a great time.  I wouldn't say it was the best quality singing -  but it was all great fun and very enjoyable.

On Saturday we went to visit Wookey Hole and then went onto Wells.  Wookey Hole was quite a disappointment, it is run by the The Cottle family, who are famous for their UK circus.  I suspect the site would make a reasonable day out for a family with smallish children, but for a pair of adults, it isn't the best day out.   There is no consistency to the place.
You start out on a trip round the caves, which are not  all that impressive, and come with a guided tour pitched for children.  Then you get taken  into a 'Dinosaur Garden' with a few poorly maintained and signed fiberglass dinosaurs - which don't seen to be in scale with each other.  There is a fairly basic museum, that has a few relevant finds but then has a number of displays and drawings and other similar exhibitions.  Again its pitched at the kids.  Onto a working museum of old arcade machines,  most of which run on pre-decimalisation coinage, especially old pennies.  And they will sell you old pennies, it is a pound for five.  Finally the tour finishes up in a paper mill with a demonstration of making paper by hand.

We had lunch in the new 'Big Top' restaurant, which we thought was expensive for the mediocre food that was on the menu. A quick  look in the 'bear factory'  which wasn't stuffing bears and then a quick look at a clown show intended for kids.  We were not very impressed with it as a day out.  To cap it all the batteries in the camera failed and we didn't get any pictures of the place either.  The batteries were freshly charged re-chargeables that didn't hold their charge.  Still they are years old and have  given good services, and were honorably retired to the nearest waste bin.

On to Wells in the afternoon.   Historically, in England, any town that has a cathedral is technically a city, and Wells Cathedral makes Wells England's smallest city.  It has a really pleasant town center, the main street lead up a hill, flanked by a range of shops to a market place on top of the hill.  Just beyond the market place are The Bishop's Palace and The Cathedral.  Unfortunately for us, the palace was closed  to the public as some lucky couple were holding their wedding reception there.  However, it reminded me that at the time it was built bishops were incredibly powerful people.  The first two pictures show the outer gatehouse (from outside and then inside), the inner gatehouse and then a view  across the courtyard of the palace.  The closest we could get.  The fifth picture shows the palace's moat.  Now-a-days we don't think of bishops as living in well defended castles.

The final pictures is of Wells Cathedral.  We weren't allowed to take pictures inside unless we paid a photographers premium -  which we decided not to do.

On Sunday we went to Cheddar Gorge - which we found really suited us as a day out.  Cheddar Gorge is England's biggest gorge, although in  world terms it isn't really very big.  Think of it as 'bijou'.  Throughout the day we took  a number of pictures as we were walking around or riding the open top bus.  Some of the views are taken from a lookout tower on the top of the gorge, which I climbed 274 steps to get too.  Then I climbed the tower itself.  Believe me, thats a lot of steps.  The gorge also has a climbing school, and we saw quite a few groups climbing the rock faces.

One particular rock is said to look like a lion's head.

There are two cave systems here, Gough's Cave and Cox's Cave.  Gough's cave is larger and, perhaps, has a really good personal audio-tour commentary, so you can take your time and listen to as much (or as little) of the commentary as you wish.  It is also where they found the skeleton of Cheddar Man, which is Britain's oldest complete skeleton.  Cox's cave is shorter with a general audio recording tour, but it incorporates a 'fantasy' section with Elves and Goblins and a battle of Light against Darkness.  There is also a museum of stone age life -  it has a some finds and a couple of clever exhibits. 

We stopped for lunch at a take-away pasty shop, stopped a little later for a lunchtime drink in a pub, and then later still
for an ice cream.   All in all it was a very relaxed day.  Just as we were leaving we met one of the primitive goats that have been introduced to keep the gorge's vegetation trimmed.  He was sniffing around  the cars.









Cheddar  Gorge







Gough's Cave




Cox's cave




Lion Rock