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May 07

A West Country Bank Holiday

The bank holiday is sadly over, but with a four day week as a consolation prize and another bank holiday to look forward to at the end of the month it’s not all doom and gloom. I hope that you enjoyed as much sunshine and fun as we did  – certainly there were a lot of people out and about over the weekend making the most of the rare combination of time off work and good weather!

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge – home to vertiginous cliffs, Cheddar cheese and the world’s best fudge!

Our bank holiday took us down to the West Country, with time for some lazy strolling in the sunshine and lots of time out in the fresh air. Friday afternoon saw us heading to Roo’s favourite playground by beautiful Chew Valley Lake.

Chew Valley Lake Playground

Roo enjoying the view & rides at Chew Valley Lake Playground

It’s not a massive playground but it has plenty of wooden equipment to keep smaller children occupied, there are hoards of ravenous ducks to feed in the immediate area and the picnic area makes a great place for a pushchair walk or a longer ramble through the lush green Chew Valley countryside for lunch at pretty Chew Magna village. There is also plenty of bird spotting to be had from the paths and bird hides running alongside the lake shore for the young ornithologists!

View across reed beds at Chew Valley Lake towards Denny Island

Chew Valley Lake

Looking for a short pushchair walk out in the wilds of the Mendip Hills, we went for a ramble down Velvet Bottom near Cheddar on Saturday. The scenery here has fascinated me since a little girl, with the smooth green grassy banks looking a little like a hobbit might pop out of a burrow any second. I’m yet to spot a hobbit, though there are plenty of rabbits along the sheltered, sunny bank-sides. It’s a great option for a family walk with a stroller or a toddler – short, good paths and plenty of picnic and flat, grassy running around space.

Velvet Bottom Pushchair Walk

Strolling with the stroller at Velvet Bottom

After the walk, it was off to Cheddar for a drive-through the spectacular gorge and a quick nip into the sweet shop at the gorge end of Cheddar to buy some of its award winning fudge (not a bit like the normal shop bought stuff, this is truly amazing melt-in-the-mouth creamy fudgy yummyness and I was actually there on a shopping mission for a pregnant friend who had been craving it since discovering it on a previous holiday, which proves just how good it is)!

Tulips at Holt Farm Organic Garden

A magnificent display of tulips at Holt Farm Organic Garden

Saturday was also the Open Day and Plant Sale at Yeo Valley’s Holt Farm Organic Garden. Situated in an idyllic spot next to Blagdon Lake, the farm adjoins the family set-up business and now nationwide success of Yeo Valley Yoghurt. The gardens have been developed by the family during their tenure in the adjoining farmhouse and are home to lovely avenues of trees, vegetable plot, woodland wild-flower wanders and lakeside views as well as the more formal and beautiful flower gardens. There is also a good teashop at the farm. I’m afraid plants to me are another girl’s shoes….I got thoroughly excited by the plant sale and had to head back to the car clutching my new flowering specimens and empty wallet before returning with emptier hands to explore the gardens with Roo in her stroller.

Paddling in Chew Stoke Ford

Paddling in stream

Sunday saw a return of pure sunshine and also a lack of will on my part to do anything other than soak up its rays. So we opted for a leisurely day exploring old childhood haunts including introducing Roo to fishing in the stream and checking out the rope swing still works after more years than I’d care to tell you…It does and I didn’t manage to break it thankfully!

Rope Swing, Chew Stoke

Being a big kid again!

Monday we returned east early to beat the bank holiday traffic. Having passed a tantalising faint blue haze in the nearby woods a week ago, we set off to see if the bluebells were out in the local woods yet. Not only were the bluebells in flower but it seems the late warm weather has brought them all out into bloom at once, creating one of the most spectacular shows of this English wonder I’m yet to see. The endless carpets of blue under the vibrant green of the new leaves on the Beech trees, soaked in sunshine peeping into the shady glades made a magical end to the long weekend. I’ll be writing up some recommended bluebell walks very soon – in the meantime, find a bluebell wood near you with this great website from the Woodland Trust.

Bluebell woods

Carpets of bluebells in bloom.

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