Saturday, 30 July 2011

Holiday inspiration: look, no planes! (i)

Planes are amazing but we're killing the planet by using them to travel around it. Trains are better. You could go to...
Porlock, Somerset
Yes, that's actually Somerset - July
Stayed here with 15 family members (it has beds for 28 but I think it would be seriously overcrowded with that many people). Saw herons, red deer, amazing moths, birds of prey, the Milky Way, so many shooting stars that I lost count, three satellites orbiting the earth. Relatives with the energy to venture onto Exmoor picked bilberries and saw wild ponies. Sister and her boyfriend used this book to find a beautiful place to swim.
Porlock, Somerset - July
Had superlative cream teas in the sun here - scones fresh from the oven, get there early or they'll have run out. Dinner brought to the house from here wasn't at all bad (apart from a gritty salad) and cheese-loving relatives had fun in this shop.

Nearby Dunster Castle is quite fairytale-looking (cousins who went in said better on the outside), but Dunster Country Fair was missable - archery was fun, the rest was mostly technicolor fudge and animal cruelty.
Dunster Castle, Somerset - July
Porlock Weir is much prettier than it looks on the webcam - stony beach with lovely backdrop of green hills and thatched cottages, view of Wales across the water.  Forgot to take photos because I was too busy paddling, flying a kite, and helping my cousin search for her rock collection that she'd put down somewhere.  (There are less-rocky beaches not far off.)

Porlock is a bit of a pain to get to if you don't drive, but when you do arrive it has thatched cottages, an unusual Dutch-looking church, walks onto Exmoor straight from the village, and villagers who sell home-grown fruit and homemade preserves on their doorsteps. Train to Taunton and then choose from: long bus journey, long taxi ride, hire car, or even (if you pack light) bus-steam train-bus. While you're cursing Beeching, hum the song and remember that you haven't had to stand in a queue at passport control, reveal all in one of those 'naked' security scanners, or buy tomorrow's knickers from a machine in the airport toilets because your luggage decided at the last minute to go elsewhere.  If it helps, the place with the fantastic cream teas is so close to the bus stop that they might almost hand you a scone before you've stepped off the bus.

Edit: How could I forget to mention the wonderful Shelduck Book Shop in Porlock High Street?  It's a small shop selling secondhand books and ice-creams (only the books are secondhand, obviously).  The books seemed very well-chosen and the prices were really good.