The Odyssey begins….departure, arrival and ‘home’


The Odyssey begins!

Arrival

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!

Out for a walk in the gorge
First day

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!!

Cheddar Gorge

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.

Memories

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.

Why ‘Odyssey’?

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 –

Odyssey – a long wandering and eventful journey. An eventful adventure.

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 🙂

Deb xx

Odyssey begins - a travel blog

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98 Replies to “The Odyssey begins….departure, arrival and ‘home’”

  1. Welcome back to the U.K., I hope you enjoy your time here, and that the unpredictable weather is kind to you. Many many years ago, must be 40 years, we went to Cheddar for a few days honeymoon after I married my first husband. I remember the lovely village, and the caves. I haven’t been back since then, but would very much like to.

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  2. Love it Deb! I like that you are calling it an Odyessy and you have led such an interesting life. Imagine swapping homes and lives for a year! Cheddar looks beautiful and I’m assuming they have plenty of cheese there 🙂 The village is just beautiful and I’m a huge fan of UK and it’s gorgeous villages and countryside. Have a fabulous time and thanks for sharing the first of many post on your Odyessy. xx

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    1. Thanks Sue, it’s one of those quintessential English places! Our exchange year was a game changer for us and I’m so proud of us for taking on the challenge at the time. Yes cheese is a big part of the village and also strawberries. Hope all is well with you. X

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      1. I love this part of the world Deb and I’m enjoying all of your photos. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us at Midlife Share the Love Party and I’ll be sharing on social media. Keep enjoying the Odyssey!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. We visited Cheddar for a 1/2 day trip on my first trip to the UK in 1998. We were staying in Wookey Hole at the time (I love that name). Loved what I saw of Cheddar, but didn’t have time to do the gorge walk. Next time! Looking forward to reading the continuation of your 3 month odyssey. Enjoy your time with your daughter.

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  4. What a wonderful start to your travels, Deb. I look forward to joining you vicariously on this Odyssey. I can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How wonderful to return back there again Deb. You certainly picked the right time…it actually feels like winter has well and truly set in Melbourne over these past few days.
    Enjoy your time there, and can’t wait to hear about the adventures in this gorgeous town of Cheddar, oh and the Bash as well! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad you’ve made it safely. My daughter has just finished three years up the road st Langford Vet school so we’ve had many excuses to visit the gorge and the reservoir recently. It’s fab for sure. Now all you need is for the weather to hold….

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  7. I didn’t know about your Cheddar connection Deb – how fantastic that your daughter chose the same village to create her expat life. I loved all the photos and smiled at the rabbit named Bruce (I had a budgie named Bruce when I was a younger woman) Looking forward to all your odessey posts (and to being able to spell odessey without having to double check it!) Also looking forward to an odessey guest post when inspiration strikes you down the line xx

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    1. Thanks so much Leanne, it’s a great story that our daughter now lived here! Your spelling of odyssey is different to mine so now I’m the one double checking 😂 I’m planning my guest post as we speak!!

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  8. Welcome back to the UK, Debbie. Good to read that you’re already settling back into Cheddar. Looking forward to seeing you at the Bloggers Bash in London next week. I hope the jetlag is well and truly over by then. In the meantime, enjoy the spring and the longer evenings of daylight.

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    1. Thanks so much Hugh, we’re loving the longer daylight hours and I believe it has helped in getting over the jet lag. We’re busy walking and exploring the area and have a party planned tonight to catch up with old friends – should be a blast!! See you next weekend 🙂

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  9. First of all, who wouldn’t love a town named Cheddar? The idea of a teacher exchange is wonderful…I wish more countries would do that. Could be quite eye-opening! Wonderful photos. I look forward to following your adventures. (Adding your blog to my reader list).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Donna! It was a great experience for all of us and very eye opening!! I’m finding it hard to find time to finish up my next post in my series, we’re just so busy here 😊

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  10. Debbie how exciting. I think it is so wonderful the way you ended up going to Cheddar, to get to change places for a year is pretty cool. Enjoy it is always so nice going back to visit favorite places.

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  11. Deb, a friend sent me your post. So interesting! I am a Harris too! I would love to follow your Odyssey. How can I know when yOdysseus. Is there a way to sunscribe? 4 of us, my husband and 2 dear friends are taking our “trip of a lifetime” to Australia, NZ and S Pacific in the fall (your Spring). I know it won’t be our last!! I just retired so we will be gone 3 months. Next year we are doing the UK! I wish you a wonderful time in Cheddar!!! Regards

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  12. Loved reading about your Odyssey Deb and looking forward to more instalments. My daughter lived in London for four years and I lived my visits to her. I haven’t heard of Cheddar so was interested to read about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s a long way to pretty much everywhere from Australia isn’t it! Cheddar looks absolutely gorgeous, I hope you enjoy every minute of your trip and I look forward to following along on your Odyssey

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What a beautiful English village. I am fortunate to have friends I visit regularly in both England and Scotland. BUT, I would LOVE to do a house swap someday or go to live there for an extended time period once we are both retired. I really enjoyed your pictures and post.

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  15. So glad you’re having a lovely time. Oh Bath, I LOVE Bath. It would be my choice of place to live if I ever returned to England. The countryside around there and the city itself are just lovely hey? How wonderful that you spent a year in Cheddar and now have your daughter to visit there. Oh but how hard too. My Mum still lives in Devon and it gets harder each year to visit from Perth. Enjoy your Odyssey and I look forward to hearing more.

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    1. It is really hard at times but I love being able to visit here here. We live Bath and will visit a few times while over this way. It is so green here and spring is glorious. I’m finding it hard to fit in my blogging as I’m so busy!! Thanks for visiting Jo.

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