So much for going to bed early. I woke up at 5, laid in bed for half an hour then decided I may as well get up. Decided to walk over to the tower again seeing as the weather was MUCH improved this morning. I was on the road by 7am and at the tower by 8. Fantastic it was and I didn’t see a soul. The wind was not as ferocious as yesterday and the clouds had gone. Porlock Bay was bathed in the morning sunlight.
After having a sit, I was off back to the house. Took the track to Porlock rather than the lane like yesterday – a much nicer walk. Stopped off in the village to buy the Telegraph (so I can do the football results for work) and was back at the house by 9. Mirinda was awake and in the bath.
Mirinda was busy writing and resting so I typed up some of my journal, did some work on my essay and read the paper, until 1pm when we took off to enjoy the pleasures of the West Somerset Railway. We parked at Minehead, admiring the architectural brilliance of the Butlins holiday camp with rousing yells of ‘Hi-de-hi!” and wandering down to the train terminus.
The West Somerset Railway is similar to the Watercress Line except it goes a lot further. It has both steam and diesel trains (fortunately we were on steam for we were unaware there would be a choice!) and the trip takes one and a quarter hours. Now I know what you’re thinking: Why go on holiday just to take a train ride roughly equivalent to the same train ride we take every day. Hell, don’t ask me. It was Mirinda’s idea.
Anyway, the trip through the Somerset countryside was very peaceful, shattered by the awful kids on the train – for ‘awful’ read ‘very noisy’. Originally this section of railway was built in (my old friend) Brunel’s Broad Gauge – the better one that was not used throughout England because it didn’t shake everything and rattle enough – but was changed to the narrow gauge at some stage so the trains could fit on it. Apparently there’s a piece of Broad Gauge railway at one of the stations but not being overly train-crazy, I forgot to look.
Eventually the train pulled in at Bishops Lydeard. Now here’s a place. There should be a book called 50 Places to Avoid Before You Die with Bishops Lydeard given an entire page to itself. A sign at the end of the platform proclaims ‘To the village of Bishops Lydeard…well worth a visit’ Well, it ain’t! Firstly you arrive in a particularly awful part of town, backing onto some sort of truck yard, then walk alongside a horribly busy road then under another that is SO horribly busy they had to build a subway under it which is disgusting – the faeces smeared on the walls should indicate what the residents think of the place for a start. And the place is packed full of little girls in pink. There is obviously a gender recognition problem in Bishops Lydeard. I only saw two boys and one of them had a banjo and a shaved head.
After the subway you come across the Great Wall of Bishops Lydeard – I took a photo especially – and then turn the corner into Hell. Maybe it was our timing, maybe it’s always awful but there were cars everywhere, narrow streets, a closed pub, girls in pink riding pink bikes, nothing of any note…apart from what I’ve just noted. We turned around and went back to sit on the train to wait for the return trip. Anyone tempted to visit? DON’T!
The trip back was lovely – we had the entire last carriage to ourselves – as we tried to find some of the promised imposing gentlemen’s houses and other points of interest along the route. There is only one more thing I just have to say about the train ride today. The guide book states that the station at Stogumber is not named after Kingswood. ‘Nuff said.
We retrieved Sidney from the beach front at Minehead where she’d been staring wistfully at Butlin’s, and drove back to Porlock.
For dinner tonight we were going to try the three rosetted Raymond’s at the Weir. Apparently it’s quite good. We parked in the pay 24 hour carpark – I can’t imagine someone coming round at three in the morning giving you a ticket – and walked over the road. We entered the empty restaurant and were immediately told they were full. Maybe it was the fact I hadn’t shaved for a fortnight, maybe it was Mirinda’s accent, I don’t know. What I do know is that this place is another ‘give your credit card number when you make the booking’, like the one in Oxford. It does make me wonder what would happen if you gave a fictitious number.
Anyway, we shrugged off our disappointment and strolled over to the only other place with a restaurant, the Anchor Hotel. Oddly we had to choose from the menu before sitting at a table, which stressed Mirinda out a bit, but eventually we were seated with a nice glass of Sancerre next to the only other people there. I ordered a garlic sausage for entree – I got four slices of devon on a bed of lettuce and capsicum. I ordered beef for main and was given half a cow in a goulash’y type sauce. Then the vegetables came out – mountains of vegetables. The food was fine but the quantities were just way too much. Mirinda had lovely lamb chops. For dessert (for we were determined to have dessert) Mirinda was given a massive wedge of cheese cake’y thing and I had ice cream.
The couple who run the place are quite nice. They bought the business about two years ago (the hotel AND the Ship Inn next door) and said they’d not stopped working. The sort of couple who would put you off running a hotel. Not that I needed putting off but you never know when Mirinda will get it into her head.
Went home and watched Planet Earth before going to bed.