A Somerset Jaunt

One day last week the sky turned to blue and the birds tweeted and the household was very restless so it got into the car and headed off in the direction of Somerset which isn’t really very far away. We have walked the beach at Burnham a lot recently so thought we would go somewhere else.

We decided to have lunch at the Swan in Wedmore, who had tweeted us that they were dog-friendly ‘downstairs’ and go for a short walk at Ham Wall, which allows dogs on leads in parts, though not in the hides.

As we were driving down, admiring the spring lambs, we changed our minds and thought we had better walk the dogs before going for lunch as that way they would be more likely to be calm and well behaved.

JauntinSomerset.7We went across to Cheddar Reservoir, a huge high reservoir near where Brian lived as a boy and where we have been in the past to do bird watching. People walk around the huge circular reservoir, and admire the sky mostly. It is a big place and the birds are nearly always on the other side to where you are. Big rafts of bald-headed coot, groups of seagulls, overwintering tufted ducks, mallards, pairs of courting grebes, little grebes,  the occasional Northern Diver, all sorts of waterfowl can be seen here, though it is advisable to take binoculars if you are serious. There is also a sailing club that use the Reservoir but on the morning we went no one was out on the water.

JauntinSomerset.3There were two students doing a project, one of whom was dressed in a sheet, no idea why but I thought they were very sweet.

And the sky was blue and the clouds were glorious! I have spent a little time trying to figure out why the clouds looked like this, because although not that unusual, it wasn’t typical and I am not very good at clouds. I think, and do correct me if I am wrong, that the exuberant many -fingered whispy cloud reaching out in a loving embrace to the world (and I must admit that I threw my arms wide and high and tried to hug it back) is a cirrus formation. Cirrus are high clouds that form around minerals, so I guess in this case this was sand. That week the UK had been visited by Saharan sand bearing winds, which had been combining with our local pollution to create noticeable smog in the south-east of the country; we in the West had fog two days later and fine sand deposited by night rain on our car windows.

JauntinSomerset.11The cirrus clouds were moving in one direction and the lower clouds, which I can’t figure out what they should be classified as, were moving in another direction. The whole experience of being there was joyful, expansive and light. I am addicted to big skies and watching the movement of clouds and light, they lift my soul from the gloom that I find myself in all too often.


If you can find a place to look at the sky and the clouds and have a walk, well it doesn’t make your unconstructive thoughts go away, but it allows some simpler thoughts to find a place in your mind and maybe balance out some of the others. As they say in all the mindfulness books, pay attention to the here and now, and allow your thoughts to come and go, like clouds they are real but they don’t have to last forever.

Lunch at the Swan in Wedmore was lovely, we had a fine Ploughman’s lunch and two desserts, a rhubarb fool, which the chef customized for Brian so it didn’t have cream in it, and I had their malt chocolate cake with salted caramel icecream. The dogs behaved fairly well, though Mme L decided to bark at a pushchair on its way through the bar. We took dog biscuits with us so we rewarded them for being ‘good’.



We then headed off to Ham Wall , down the bumpy road between the drains, the green pastures full of grazing swans, and wandered down the lane to the big viewing platform. We heard various bittern booming away to each other, but didn’t see any flying. From the platform we could see swans and cormorants hanging out their wings to dry, the hedgerows were jumping with great tits and dunnock. Wild plants beginning to flower..


A glimpse of Glastonbury Tor from Ham Wall



It has become quite a busy place and I miss the way it used to be, when I first went there with Brian all those years ago and it felt like we had it to ourselves but I guess that is the way of the world. Everything changes. It was a lovely outing!


21 thoughts on “A Somerset Jaunt

  1. MC

    What a wonderful post. Made me long anew for the English countryside… And the portrait of the sky is simply glorious. Makes me believe in happiness again!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you MC – I am so pleased you liked it. I am surprised that the little phone took such a nice sky picture too, must have been all the light bouncing off the reservoir that helped :)

  2. Chica Andaluza

    Stunning shots of the clouds! Big Man doesn’t yet know this part of England so we are hoping to “go west” this summer – it’s great that you found some dog friendly places to visit and eat. We’re always on the lookout for recommendations like this!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I don’t know why it puts the featured image up twice in this theme Chica, but that seems to be how it works. In my old theme it put the featured image up instead of the regular header. There are quite a few pubs and pub-restaurants that do allow dogs in, always worth asking, if you are travelling with a dog. They usually want you to be in the bar area if they have a restaurant, but I am always very grateful when they let you in :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      It was a lovely day, one of those unplanned ones, often the best sort. I am wearing multiple strange layers of clothing, but no coat! It must be Spring!

  3. Jan

    Hello Joanna – lovely photo of you. I particularly liked the beginning sentence of this post…I could feel myself mentally settling for story time – my inner child likes to be read to:). Lovely place too. I do so miss the lovely old English Inns and pubs. I had a part time job in a pub in Surrey to save money for my really, big adventure to Australia when I was…younger than I am now…..and I loved the atmosphere in the bar on a Sunday morning, with the firelight reflecting in the hanging pewter mugs. Glorious sky. As for the young fellow draped in a sheet – that’s part of the reason I love being in a City because there is such a variety of life. We used to have an elderly lady in Brisbane who dressed in nun-like white clothes and walked around and around the city, but one morning I saw her hefting an extraordinarily large timber cross on her shoulder and still stepping out at her usual rate. I remember thinking to myself “I love cities”. Lovely to hear from you again.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love your stories too Jan ! I don’t know why I began like that, it was just the way it came out but I will remember you like it. Cities are full of amazing people, but you find them everywhere – just a bit more spread out in the countryside, aren’t they?

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is a beautiful time of year here, weather changing, leaves unfurling and great clouds too xx

  4. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    A grand day out! It’s so nice to see that lovely photo of you looking so pretty in blue! The clouds are gorgeous, and I love that now when you say “bald-headed coot”, I know exactly what you’re referring to (and it’s not some rude old guy at the pub)! :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Swathed in my layers, I think four at that point – thermal underwear is my middle name – I drop a dress size when it finally warms up

      I love the way we use bird names and behaviour in the language to describe ourselves – be a duck! What a turkey! Cry like a loon. swanning into a room, silly goose, playing chicken etc

  5. Ann

    What a lovely day you all had! Super photos – particularly of you and Zeb.
    Malted choc cake with salted caramel ice cream – yum!

  6. narf77

    How could there be anything better than a reserve named after a cheese? If we lived nearby whenever I lost Steve I could just phone cheddar reserve and know that I had a 99% chance of finding him wandering wistfully looking for that elusive curd ;)

    By the way good call on the exercise first. We learned that from Caesar Millan (who appears to have disappeared…maybe his pack got tired of all that “CCCHHHTTTT!” and ate him?) but curiously our boys need so much exercise to calm them that by the end of it we are totally and utterly exhausted and feel like we have done 10 rounds with Mike (the ear muncher) Tyson and are too tired to “do lunch”.

    We don’t need to go to the cheddar reserve to see bald headed coots. We just head to Beaconsfield where a town of approximately 100 people manage to support 3 hotels admirably and where the lesser (age) spotted bald headed coot can be seen in its natural habitat at any given moment of the day from opening to closing time. Curiously, the tufted duck is often to be found hovering around the bald headed coot. The tufted duck has a windswept and interesting look about it and tends to comb it’s tuft over from one side of its head to the other…

    The courting grebes are always present on Friday and Saturday nights but they are flighty creatures and tend to have a few drinks at the “watering hole” and then abandon the site to head to the city leaving the regular water fowl to congregate around the “pond” with their little grebes who are allowed in the lounge and dining areas but who are not allowed to sit on stools alongside the pond with their bald headed coot dads and tufted duck uncles

    What a brave boy! I would imagine it was somewhat cold as your attire would attest to. Gorgeous picture of you by the way ma’am :). We have grey skies and precipitation on a regular basis and I couldn’t be happier! Every raindrop that falls on Serendipity Farms roof makes me “SQUEE!” with happiness. I would be even happier if we had installed our rainwater tank but I am loving autumn and am glad you FINALLY took possession of our summer!

    Zeb looks magnificent (as always) and posed wonderfully in that lovely image. I too love clouds. At the moment I like the fact that they are all joining up, turning dark and are raining! :)

    You had Bittern as well? We hear them “booming” down in the church car park where they alight on a Friday night to “water” and their customary and most tell-tale “doof…doof…doof…doof…” call allows us to identify them. I really don’t think that I should start talking about the “great tits” needless to say they are probably in the company of the Bitterns in the back seat and are something that the bald coots and tufted ducks watch avidly should they ever approach the Beaconsfield reserve watering holes. Not sure about wild plants sprouting but there would be a fair few wild oats being sowed on any given night ;)

    Glad you had a blast Joanna and I bet you slept well :)

  7. Joanna Post author

    Hehehe you are so funny! It sounds a blast down your way of an evening with all those old birds, thankyou for the description :-) You might have to track Steve down the caves or even Wookey Hole…. Cheddar Reservoir is on the edge of Cheddar, to the west.You can see the cleft in the Mendips where the Gorge runs from where we were walking that day. It is very touristy, full of coaches, cafés and gift shops. Brian say the reason the reservoir is on that side of Cheddar is that if it happened to break its banks or overfill, it drains away from the village onto the moor. He remembers the flash floods in the sixties when the river that formed the gorge rose and shut it down for weeks to traffic. Cheese has been made here since the 12th century and the caves in the Gorge were used to store the cheese. The Reservoir holds the water supply for Cheddar and is part of the drinking water network. xx Jo

Comments are closed.