The Odyssey begins!
I must say it’s a very looong trip from one side of the world to the other! After more than 38 hours of travelling, and over 10000 miles of air travel, plus buses, cars and trains – we’ve finally made it.
London welcomed us with blue skies and the hint of warmth in the Spring sunshine and then we were on the bus to Bristol, where we were collected by our eldest daughter. After that it was simply a quick drive to Cheddar, our ‘home away from home’.
It’s good to be back! It’s been 4 years since we were here last and some things have changed. Our daughter and her partner have acquired a house of their own, a black Labrador puppy called Ozzy and a huge bunny called Bruce. Life is certainly very busy!
Our connection to Cheddar
What sort of connection does an Australian family have with a small village called Cheddar? Back in 1992 The Mathematician participated in a year-long Teacher Exchange program which effectively meant we swapped houses, jobs, cars and lives with a family from Cheddar, in Somerset in the southwest of UK. The English family travelled to our town of Tumbarumba in New South Wales Australia, and took over the Mathematician’s job at the local high school. It was an education for all concerned!
We moved with our three small daughters to the other side of the world for what turned out to be the experience of a lifetime – for all of us. The Mathematician drove to Bath each day to work in the adult education sector and we took every opportunity to see as much of England and Europe as we could during the year. It wasn’t always easy but we managed to make it a year full of fun and adventure. In fact at the end of the year the girls didn’t want to return to Australia, they were more than happy to stay in Cheddar!
Our eldest daughter returned to Cheddar for a gap year after finishing high school and again after finishing her university course. And she has since stayed on and made her life here. It’s a case of life coming full circle!
We’ve been back to visit many times over the years, to visit our daughter as well as the many friends we still have in the village. We’re always welcomed like long lost friends and pick up where we left off since last time.
It always feels like coming home to all of us, and it’s a place we all love.
As usual, soon after arriving, we did the obligatory walk to Cheddar Gorge followed by a walk around the village.
It’s great to see that Spring is in full swing here. Having left our beautiful Autumn weather behind, we’ve suddenly been transported to the world of Spring blossoms, different varieties of green, trees with leaves on them and the hint of an approaching summer. I know I’m a huge fan of autumn, but I must say, Spring is really starting to turn my head and I’ve only been here a few days!!
On our first day, after a good nights sleep, (thanks to jet lag), we walked into the village and up and over the gorge. This wasn’t exactly planned, but as it was a nice day for a walk, we just continued on. We’d enjoyed talking to a local over a cup of tea and decided to walk some of the way up, and in the end we just kept walking!
The views were well worth the effort! Whenever we visit we always have to walk it, and usually do so many times, finding new things to look at, delight in and explore. In fact in our first few days here we’ve been up twice, doing the reverse of our first walk the very next day – just to mix things up! My calf muscles are currently screaming in agony.
According to the National Trust brochure, produced in conjunction with Cheddar Walking:
Iconic Cheddar Gorge walk with magnificent views of the gorge and beyond. At almost 400ft (122m) deep and 3 miles long this is England’s largest gorge, and with its weathered crags and pinnacles, one of our most spectacular natural sites.
Terrain – varied terrain with open grassy paths, with some steep, rocky and muddy (when wet) stretches. Some steps, one long set on decline. One stone stile. Stout walking shoes/boots recommended. Can be exposed along the top of the gorge.
Things you see along the way include Lion Rock, Soay sheep, goats, deer, views of Glastonbury Tor, Brent Knoll and Bridgewater Bay, Pavey’s lookout tower and bird life. It’s a distance of 3.5 miles with a grade of hard/strenuous in places. The circular walk takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.
As we walked around the village, I enjoyed the memories as they came flooding back – the post office where I made my mark shortly after I first arrived – I opened my mouth to ask a question and my Australian accent burst forth and every head in the place immediately turned to look at this strange newcomer!
The school where the girls spent a year making new friends and learnt new accents. We spent a lot of time at the school and it was an integral part of the year’s success.
The Market Cross in the village, something we’d never seen before, along with the old stone buildings, stone walls and the High street, which sadly isn’t quite as bustling anymore.
The stone walls, the colourful flowers, the neatness of the hedges, the green-ness of everything, the narrowness of the streets, the quaint names of the streets and houses. It’s so different to our lives at home in our small rural town that it feels like we’ve travelled back in time.
And in a way we have.
The sun is shining and doesn’t set until nearly 9pm – it’s just a delightful time of the year to visit. Apparently at home they’re enjoying the first blast of winter so my plan to miss winter this year appears to be working out just fine.
I tend to name every trip we take, I think it’s a hangover from the early days when I had a separate dedicated travel blog. I’ve named this trip the ‘Odyssey’ as Louise, one of my blogging friends, used the word in a comment recently. I looked it up to clarify its meaning –
I thought that sounded about the size of it, so I’ve decided that this trip will be known as the Odyssey! As I update our travels I’ll use the name odyssey in the title to keep them all connected.
We have a few trips planned during our three month odyssey but to start with it’s a case of relax, catch up with our daughter and other friends, walk in the gorge, cycle the Strawberry Line, walk around the reservoir, visit some our favourite places and explore new ones, enjoy the spring weather and reacquaint ourselves with our home away from home. I’m in a good place right now 🙂
I’d be thrilled to have you join us 🙂
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