Catch Up With Some Old News – Somerset

For reasons that I have already gone into here, blogging became rather less of a priority last month (June), so I missed a few ride reports and other bits an pieces, so this is a quick catch up.

I suppose the biggest news was that we had our first trip using only the bike and leaving the car behind, although we still had to take Sue’s hairdryer. Fortunately, the bags on the Heritage Softail are a lot bigger than the ones on the Sportster, so we were able to cope with the two bags and our new tailpack.

A few years ago now, I was featured in the Nottingham Evening Post as “Person Of The Week”, a feature that no longer runs. Along with a brief moment of fame and a second use as chip wrapping, cane a prize of a holiday. This turned out to be a week’s self catering at Pontins and having looked at the brochure, we chose Brean Sands in Somerset, near Weston-Super-Mare.  We decided to accept the place for what it is, a holiday centre aimed squarely at children, and to use it as a base for getting out to see some of the surrounding areas.

Once we were on their marketing list, further offers and deals arrived a couple of times a year so we have been there three times now. Somerset is an undiscovered gem that most holidaymakers rush through to get to Cornwall or Devon. However, Glastonbury (the town, not the music festival, is enchanting, Bath is spectacular and the Bristol Channel coast is quiet and peaceful.

This year’s trip was from Monday 23rd June to Friday 27th June. The weather was OK, we had our share of rain and overcast, but almost all of it was overnight or when we were back at base camp. Although we wore our waterproofs on a couple of days, we never really got properly wet.

The riding there and back was fairly dull, all motorway, although it was great not having to keep the car in view in my mirrors or by training behind it. And when we hit the slow traffic around Birmingham, I was able to do some judicious filtering to make better progress than if we’d been stuck in the queue with the car.

On the way down, we visited Riders of Bristol, the Harley dealer. Although the bike was fully loaded, we still added to our collection of Harley-Davidson branded clothing, and added still more when we visited the other Riders dealership in Bridgewater later in the week. With somecareful packing, we were even able to bring all the shopping home with us.

Once out and about around Somerset, the riding was great.

We had a great day out in Cheddar Gorge; carefully avoiding spending lots of money on the highly developed tourism, but we found a great little cafe for our lunch. They were very busy and it took a long time to be served with or food, but the staff were very apologetic and even gave us our second pot of tea free.

We also went to what is fast becoming my favourite steam railway of all the ones I have visited so far, the West Somerset Railway. On this year’s visit, we were unable to find a free parking place for the bike close to Minehead station, so we set off out into the country and joined the train at one of the stations down the line (I think it was Dunster, but I’m not 100% sure).  The ride down to Bishops Lydeard and back was smooth, comfortable and the railway’s volunteers were friendly and efficient. In particular, Jo, who was one of the volunteers in the buffet on the train was a huge Harley-Davidson fan. When Sue went down to the buffet wearing a Harley T-shirt, Jo chatted enthusiastically about her own Harley experience as a birthday treat. She was just as keen to talk when I went down later on the journey.

Jo was also looking forward to the Harley 105th anniversary celebration which was to be held at Butlins in Minehead a week after our visit.

One of the highlights of our Somerset trip this year was a trip to visit an old friend, Trevor Morgan and  his wife Cilla. We spent a great day with Trevor as our guide exploring a couple of the villages in the Black Down Hills, including Hemyock.  Trevor is very much into the history of the area, especially during the Dark Ages and is also the author of several sagas about those times.

Our other day out was to Clevedon Court, a house steeped in history that is now in the care of the National Trust.

In all this was a good break in an area that we have come to like a lot. I’ve talked to Sue about whether we should try a different Pontins as a base to explore another part of the country next time, but she’s not keen to move away from this area yet. We’ll have to see whether we get another great deal next year.

Ride Safe
Dave

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