Happy Somerset Trails

We are loving January thanks in no small way to the three wassails we visited in the last week. There is still time to get out and wassail if you haven’t already. Check out last week’s blog for more details.

One of our 2019 resolutions was to get out and see more of Somerset. To help us in this aim we have been researching walking trails. We found so many that this week is part one of a two part blog. The trails pass through or reside in Somerset and many can be broken up into day walks. So put those walking boots on, pull up your socks and here we go!

Leland Trail: 28 Miles from King Alfred’s Tower in Penselwood to Ham Hill near Yeovil.

John Leland travelled through South Somerset as King Henry VIII’s librarian. His job was to record all of the treasured possessions of the churches and priories. This walk is based on his accounts. It takes you through Castle Cary, North Cadbury, Queen Camel and over to Montacute. South Somerset District Council have produced guide breaking the walk into seven stages, if 28 miles seems a bit much. Find the guide here. This trail links to three others on our list (Monarchs Way, Liberty Trail and the River Parrett Trail).

The Monarch’s Way: 625 Miles from Worcester to Brighton via Bristol and Yeovil.

The escape route of King Charles II in 1651 can’t have been all bad as he managed to spend some time in Somerset. He covered the 625 miles in six weeks, the highlight of which would have been walking along the River Parrett to Hardington Mandville and East Coker before heading down into Dorset. For details here is a link.

The Coleridge Way: 51 miles from Nether Stowey and Lynmouth.

Cross the Quantocks and Exmoor in the footsteps of the famous Romance poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. We have walked parts of this route before and the scenery is worth any blisters. Find out more here.

South West Coast Path: 630 miles from Minehead to Poole.

The longest national trail takes in 12.5 miles of the Somerset coastline from Minehead to Porlock in Exmoor. It is an ambition of mine to complete the 630 miles, but the Somerset part makes a lovely day walk. Find details here.

Mendip Way: 50 miles from Weston-super-Mare to Frome.

As the name suggests this walk crosses the stunning Mendip Hills. The walk takes in The Bristol Channel at Weston-super-Mare, heads through Cheddar Gorge and into Wells before ending in Frome. Here is your link.

The Advents of Somerset

We have our advent calendars ready for this weekend and are all set to begin the count down to Christmas. This got us wondering what interesting advents Somerset has to boast about. It turns out quite a few, but here are five we enjoyed finding out about this week:

The autobiography, 1576.

Thomas Whythorne was an English composer born in Somerset. He lived between 1528 and 1595 and is thought to have penned the earliest known surviving autobiography. A book titled “booke of songs and sonetts with longe discourses sett with them”. So it may not be a catchy title, but we can still claim the Somerset first!

America’s first “bestseller”, 1682

Mary White was born in Somerset and lived there until her family moved to Salem, Massachusetts. In 1675 during King Philip’s War, Native Americans kidnapped Mary where she was ransomed and released. Some years later she wrote about her experience of thriving on the fear of Native Americans. The book became a bestseller and was reprinted four times. She is considered to be the first bestseller of American literature.

Australia’s first novel, 1831

Henry Savery was born in Somerset (and who can blame him). Through misadventure and some highly questionable moral judgments he began trading forged bills of credit. The law caught up with him and sentenced him to be hanged. However, owing to some good connections he managed to change the sentence to transportation and a day before he was due to be killed he departed for Australia. While there and during further misadventure he started to pen the crime novel, Quintus Servinton: A tale founded upon Incidents and Real Occurrence and although it received favourable reviews in its day, it is now noted for its historical value over its literary merits.

The Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference, 1869.

Edward Thring was the Headmaster of Uppingham School who wrote to a few of his colleagues and asked them to his house to discuss setting up an annual gathering of headmasters. The institution he founded is still running with around 280 schools affiliated to it. Edward was a son of Somerset, being born in Alford. He is recognised as a pioneering educator, and a quote attributed to his philosophy is “honour the work and the work will honour you”.

The three speed bike, 1901.

Before the three speed hub came along we were stuck in two speeds and forget freewheeling down the hills on one of those things! That was until Henry Sturmey of Norton sub-Hamdon got to tinkering. He and James Archer invented the Sturmey-Archer three speed hub for bicycles. He gave the sole rights to the Raleigh bicycle company and we have never looked back (mostly because it makes the bike wobble).The three speed bike, 1901.

And before you go…

…did you know that the words to the song Danny Boy were written by a barrister and lyrist born in Portishead? It is true; Fredrick Weatherly wrote the song in Bath in 1910, set to the Irish tune Londonderry Air.

If you would like to ask a question, suggest a topic or even submit your own Somerset five things, please get in touch.

Some Somerset Christmas Things

So Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat. We all know about the big Christmas markets in Somerset in Bath and Frome, but we’ve dug a little deeper to find some hidden gems. Here is a selection of other markets that caught our eye in and around Somerset this festive season.

Norton Fitzwarren: Christmas Shopping for a Good (Netballing) Cause. Link

30th November from 6pm. Taunton Netball Club are hosting a Christmas Fayre at Norton Fitzwarren Village Hall. Home made gifts, arts & crafts and a brilliant raffle. All proceeds go towards Taunton Netball Club and it’s great that a local charity is taking the initiative for a Festive fundraiser.

Tintinhull: Tinsel town comes to Tintinhull. Link

9 December 12-5pm. Free entry to this family friendly festive fun at Tintinhull Village Hall. Roast hog, mulled wine, and Santa’s Grotto.

Cheddar: Festive shopping for one night only!

7 December from 6pm. Held annually on the first Friday before Christmas, Cheddar opens up it town for festive cheer. No tickets required. Full details to be announced so give it a Google or Facebook search before heading over.

Allerford and Selworthy: Christmas gets crafty. Link

1 & 2 December 10-4pm & 10-2pm. Festive craft fair at Allerford and Selworthy Hall, where you can buy one off gifts from local traders.

Minehead: Choo, Choo, Choose the perfect gifts! Link

1 December 11-5pm. The West Somerset Railway is holding a Christmas Market to remember. Stalls will adorn the platform and you can even get the steam train there! Tickets are £10 per adult.

If you fancy some of the big events, check out Visit Somerset’s site Link.

Event updates with the final Somerset Carnival and first of the Christmas Lights (16 to 23 November 2018)

Hello all, thank you for visiting. We are working on a few more fun fact packed Somerset blogs in coming weeks. However, this week we wanted just to share some things happening around the county as we finish up the Carnival Season and head towards the festive celebrations:

Glastonbury Carnival. More information here

Not been to a carnival yet this year? Head to Glastonbury this weekend for the last in the region. Main procession starts at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday 17th November.

History of West Country Dialect, Radstock. More information here

If you liked our post from last week, you will love this talk hosted by Radstock Museum. It takes a look at the history of our dialect, local words and customs. It is on at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday 20th November at the Radstock Working Mans Club. Admission is £3.00, under 18 year olds free.

Fireworks at Sea, Weston-super-Mare. More information here

Missing the firework displays of a couple of weeks ago? Don’t fear, Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier has you covered on Saturday 17th November at 5:30 p.m. with a firework spectacular.

Somerset Poppy Display, Wells. More information here

Following the moving Remembrance Day tributes last weekend, you can still pay your respects. The Bishops Palace is hosting a public installation of 8,000 poppies made by school children in and around Wells. Each poppy represents a serviceman from Somerset or who served in a Somerset regiment and lost their life in World War One. It is being displayed until 25 November.

Lantern Parade, Yeovil. More information here

Looking ahead to Christmas, lots of town centre lights are about to be switched on. Here is a nice early one for you to get you in the mood. Saturday 17th November, 5.30pm Yeovil town centre.

Wassee Zayin in Zumerset Dialect? (9 November to 16 November)

This week we thought we would take a break from sharing events after all the excitement of fireworks and horror movies to find and share some of our faviourate examples of Somerset dialect in culture.

King Lear by William Shakespere

In the tragic play written in 1605 Shakespere writes one of the personas of Edgar in a Somerset dialect. “Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ‘cagion.”

The Guest, a Drama of the Monmouth’s Rebellion in the Dialect of Somerset by J.A. Garton.

A play written in 1932 that is entirely in Somerset Dialect. “Pretty fair, zur, thank ‘ee, mussen grumble’s no.”

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore.

A romance of Exmoor, this classic novel written in 1869 and set in the late 17th century is an epic tale of feuding families and dramatic landscapes. “Hot mootton pasty for twoo trav’lers, at number vaive, in vaive minnits!”

Adge Cutler and the Wurzels

The Somerset hit makers took Top of the Pops by storm with the songs full of Somerset dialect. “Don’t Tell I, Tell Ee”.

The Sorcerer, Gilbert and Sullivan

The comic-opera kings Gilbert and Sullivan set their third collaboration in a fictional Somerset village called Ploverleigh. “Eh, but oi du loike you!”

The Gun Powder Plot Thickens in Somerset (2 to 9 November)

This week we have a rundown of five connections between Somerset and the Gun Powder Plot of 1605. Not only that, we’ve found some local fireworks/bonfire nights connected to each. Its going to be a blast!

Nether Stowey: Birthplace of the Antagonist.

Nether Stowey’s Robert Parsons was a Catholic Priest. As a vocal campaigner for restoring a Catholic crown, Parsons was reputed to be one of the influential figures behind inspiring Guy Fawkes and his conspirators to plot.

Although there are no fireworks displays in Nether Stowey, 30 minutes down the road at Wiveliscombe they have a bonfire and Guy night being hosted at the Recreation Ground. This Saturday 3rd November, Gates open at 6:00 p.m. for bonfire, food and bar, with the fireworks starting at 7.00 p.m. Tickets £5.00 on the night. Find out more.

Bridgwater: Continuously celebrating Fawkes’ failure.

The origins of the famous Bridgwater Carnival can be traced back to the Gun Powder Plot. Since then it has gone on to break records and is recognised internationally for the parade of colourful floats, burning of squibs and merrymaking.

Friday 2nd November from 7:00pm sees the start of the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival weekend with a grand firework display. The carnival starts at the same time the following day. Details for Bridgwater Carnival and Bridgwater Fireworks.

Ilchester: First recipe for gun powder.

The first recorded recipe for gun powder in Europe (it had been used previously in China) was documented by Ilchester’s famous scientist-friar Roger Bacon.
Just down the road from Ilchester will be the Yeovil Firework display which is celebrating its 50 year anniversary and boasts an impressive line up of music and entertainment. Head to the Yeovil Showground on 3rd November at 5:00 p.m. More information.

Montacute: Guy Fawkes’ prosecution.

Sir Edward Phelips led the opening arguments for the prosecution in the trial of Guy Fawkes, just four years after completing work on his home, Montacute House.
See fireworks this Saturday 3rd November in Montacute at the Recreation Fields, gates open at 17:30 onwards. More information.

Wellington: Judge presiding over the condemned.

Sir John Popham was born in Huntworth, North Petherton and died in Wellington. He was Lord Chief Justice of England, presiding over the trials of Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes.

If you are in or around Wellington on Saturday 3rd November head to Wellington College for their spectacular fireworks display. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. but with tickets selling out for the last three years, it is suggested that you book early to avoid disappointment. More information

Its Punkie Night in Somerset so get your mangelwurzels ready! (26 October to 2 November)

Hallowe’en is just around the corner, but did you know that Somerset has its own take on this Autumn festival called Punkie Night? It spans back… well, no one really knows how long we have been celebrating it, but it involves parading with your carved lantern and singing so I am sure it will continue to be celebrated for many years to come. Find out more about Punkie Night here.

Punkie Night happens on the last Thursday in October so get your carved mangelwurzels, swedes and pumpkins ready because here are our picks for Punkie and Hallowe’en events around the County this week:

Traditional Punkie Night at Hinton St George Village Hall Event Details

25 October 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Bring your carved lanterns to the village hall to join the parade around the village singing ‘The Punkie Song’. The event finishes up back at the village hall for lantern judging and refreshments.

Hallowe’en Disco at West Coker, Inn The Square Event Details

25 October 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Inn The Square will be hosting a Punkie Night / Halloween party for the kids with a disco, tuck shop and fancy dress. £2.00 entry fee on the door.

Unfairground Rides at Weston-super-Mare, Grand Pier Event Details

25 October to 31 October from 7:30 p.m. Weston-super-Mare invite you to experience the Unfairground, with live scare zones, rides and spooky surprises. Tickets available in advance or on the door from £12.50.

Punkie Celebrations at Montacute Village Hall Event Details

27 October starting at 6:30 p.m. Punkie Night, with prizes for best costumes for children and adults. You can collect free tickets from Montacute Garage.

Spooky Story Telling at Cheddar Gorge, The Caves. Event Details

27 October to 4 November from 11:00 a.m. Some famous literary figures come to life to tell a spooky tale and help you solve a mystery. A Hallowe’en Tale – Mysteries of the Cave is included with a Day Ticket.

There are loads of other fab events taking place across Somerset for Punkie Night and Hallowe’en so put your Dracula fangs in and go out to find some, it will be a real scream.

Stylish, scenic, fastest, biggest and oldest; just someways that Somerset tops the lists (19 to 26 October 2018)

We love living in Somerset because it has some of the most inspiring places you could ever look for. Here’s some proof – if you needed it!

Five places* and achievements that stand out include:

BEST PLACE TO LIVE IN THE UK: Frome Discover Frome

Trouva.com rated Frome the most stylish place in the UK and The Times ranked it the best place to live in the South West in 2018. Close to Bath & Bristol, and with so much culture to hand, Frome is doing something right!

MOST SCENIC DRIVE IN THE UK: Cheddar to Ashwick Read more here.

Cheddar Gorge was selected as the most pleasant road in Britain to cruise along, beating the Scottsh Highlands and the Welsh Black Mountains. It’s such a windy road you can’t help keep below the speed limit and marvel at the incredible views around you.

THE WORLD’S FASTEST HELICOPTER: built in Yeovil, flown over Glastonbury Guinness World Records

The speed record for a helicopter is 249.09 mph and was set by John Trevor Eggington, flying over Glastonbury on 11 August 1986 in a Westland Lynx. The Lynx is synonymous with Westlands (now known as Leonardo) which has been an integral part of Yeovil’s industry, and the UK’s military capabilities since 1935.

THE WORLD’S MOST IMPRESSIVE VEGETABLES: Shepton Mallet Guinness World Records

A 23.4kg beetroot. A 4.89kg potato. A 107 centimetre cucumber. These giant vegetables prove something special is in the soil in Shepton Mallet. Imagine the rhubarb! Seriously though, that’s one heck of a salad.

BRITAIN’S OLDEST COMPLETE HUMAN SKELETON: Cheddar Read more here

Living locally well before the invention of the automobile (see our second entry to this list), this world famous skeleton is estimated to be 9,100 years old, from the Mesolithic period. He probably had dark skin, blue eyes and dark curly or wavy hair. He was also probably lactose intolerant… no cheese for him then! Cheddar Man is so important that he moved to London.

*we seriously struggled to keep this list down to just five places/achievements. The Telegraph even wrote an article about why Somerset was the most beautiful place in England. As if you need to see why, read the article here. But its no surprise to us!

Maybe you know of some other achievements that have put Somerset up there along with the best? Leave a comment below.

Carnivals, Horses and Dragons (5 to 12 October 2018)

Short and simple, here are five things that caught our attention in Somerset this week:

Horses Horses

Somerset based Wassail Theatre has a new play called Horses, Horses. It is touring Somerset and beyond right now (I saw it last week and loved it). Most of the shows are free and in a local pub, so it is a win-win. Find out more here: Wassail Theatre

Farmers Market

Somerset Farmers markets are on in Axminster and Midsomer Norton this Saturday (6th) and Frome on Sunday (7th). Each of these markets has great local produce on offer so check it out! Details here: Somerset Farmers Markets

Carnival

It’s carnival season, so let’s wheel out the illuminated carts! Somerset loves a Carnival and it is Ilmister’s turn this weekend, see details: Ilminster Carnival. Did you know that Bridgwater Carnival dates back to 1605?

The Lost Words

We are big fans of the Somerset Cool team and their blog. The latest post is championing a great cause to fund a copy of a beautiful new poetry book for every primary school in Somerset. Find the blog post here at Somerset Cool and the support the cause through Lost Words Crowd Funding

Sea Dragons

We love dragons!! So at the top of my To-Do list is to go and see the free Sea Dragon exhibition in Street. The Alfred Gillett Trust have also organised some great looking half term events as part of this project. Find more here: Alfred Gillett Trust