Friday, 31 December 2010

Steart and around

I'm staying in Somerset to bridge the gap between Christmas and New Year, Cornwall and Bristol. We spent yesterday familiarising me with my surroundings, starting with a trip to Stogursey Castle. It's possibly one of the coolest addresses in the UK, as an old castle wall and huge moat survive, with the addition of a cute cottage nestled within the remains.
Then we went to Steart, which is one of those long Somerset kind of coastal parts, along the Bristol Channel, where grass meets mud and the birds just love it. We decided on an unconventional route down to the water's edge, through the reeds, and hung out by the coast for a while. However, this decision made getting back to the bird tower further inland a bit trickier. We had to cross a couple of barbed wire fences, battling through dense 8 foot reeds to reach our destination. As the sky was whitewashed and the land was ours to share only with the birds, I got a slight sense of horror film for a while. But we reached the bird tower with little difficulty, and enjoyed the view of 136 geese through the binoculars.
We ate lunch at Bridgwater Docks and headed back to the house for mulled wine via Alfoxton Park Drive, where we saw a couple of deer, rather then the hundreds I had hoped to see.
Back to Bristol the following day to see in the New Year with friends. Have a good one!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010


This is a busy time for celebrations for many people, and it feels like I've been celebrating for weeks. First there was the run-up to Christmas, then Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, then the arrival of more family on 27th. The 28th December is my nephew Zac's birthday, so I felt that in preparation for more food, presents and party games, a coastal walk was in order.
It turns out the entire family thought this was a good idea, so we packed ourselves into a couple of cars and made for Godrevy.
We started off on Gwithian beach, jumping through puddles in new wellies, playing more Montol, and writing messages in the sand which could be viewed from the cliffs above. Then we took a short walk to Godrevy, the favourite hangout for a colony of seals.
The day before I'd walked along Long Rock in the rain, which was exhilarating, and this walk was its gentle opposite.
Refreshed, we made our way back to Penzance partyland, where the Pyrahs were awaiting.

Lescudjack Castle

25th December

Christmas Day, and amid the present unwrapping, eating, drinking and TV watching, we found time to visit Lescudjack Castle.
This was easily done, as an old hillfort sits behind our house at the highest point in Penzance, or rather, we sit upon it, as it dates from the Iron Age. As far as castles go, there is not much to see, but the view over the bay is pretty impressive. We used to walk our dog in this field, and I remember it full of bushes and rubbish, but it's been cleared recently, leaving plenty of space to play 'Montol'.
These days the field is not used for much apart from some pagan ritual near Christmas, which is where we got the idea for the game.
So we ran around for a while, jogging off our Christmas dinner and admiring the view on an ancient hillfort, just minutes from the house.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Somewhere Else

This time last year I just wanted to be somewhere else. I’d been in my job for two and a half years, hated my boss and felt stuck in a rut. I didn’t really care which direction my life took, as long as it went somewhere else and didn’t just stay where it was.
In May I took my little sister’s hand, a deep breath and a huge leap of faith, as we both launched ourselves into unemployment via a trip to Lanzarote.
Since then I have done work experience in London, written for various national publications, set myself up as a private tutor, been considered for jobs in education, charity, youth work and publishing in London, Bath, Bristol and Peru, and although I haven’t actually ended up somewhere else, I’ve discovered much of Cornwall, London, Brighton, Somerset, Edinburgh, Lanzarote, Wales and Leeds.
I’ve gained inspiration seeing Lucy’s positive outlook take her to Berlin, Livvy’s hard work result in some great events, Matt’s kindness get him recognition, and Poppy’s intrepidness offer kids a helping hand in Uganda. Positivity, hard work, kindness and intrepidness may not have got me literally very far this year, but I have come a long way.
As I enter the New Year, I have a new job, new ideas, plans for travel, and pride in my 25 French and Spanish A Level students who did tremendously well in their exams.
And as I shared a fabulous meal thanks to Matt and Livvy last night, I realised that this time last year I didn’t even know these incredible people. Where was I? In a wonderful venue in snowy Cirencester, I was Somewhere Else.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Chipping Sodbury

It's -4C outside. A great day for a walk.
Joe and I chose Chipping Sodbury, as it is close to Bristol and we found a walk which should take no longer than the remaining hours of sunlight.
It is very pretty, especially when frosted. Be sure to go when the ground is hard and unyielding, the grass crunchy and the puddles turned to ice.
We passed three very old churches, dating from 13th century, many farms and three Sodburys: Chipping Sodbury, Old Sodbury and Little Sodbury, ambling through fields, passing frozen cows, sheep and horses; arriving back just as the light was fading from the day. It didn't have far to fade, as all day the sky was as white as the grass, tree branches and nettles.
With muted tones, rolling hills and church spires, time seemed suspended for a while. It was hard to find signs to indicate which period we were living in.
A lovely escape from the city.