By Margaret Sheard ……
I can’t say I particularly like visiting the UK nowadays but a recent trip was a bit different and so I decided to write about the various occasions we enjoyed there this time.
The first occasion was the wedding of Chris’s second son which took place in Somerset at All Saint’s Church, Norton Fitzwarren, where the bride was originally christened. Unfortunately the day was a bit overcast but at least it didn’t rain and the ceremony went off really well, despite a few amusing interruptions by their almost 2 year old son!
Following the wedding ceremony we all made our way to the bride’s father’s small farm where a huge marquee had been erected for the wedding feast and outside on a large grassed area there were bales of hay and other seating for the guests to enjoy the later events. It was a beautiful setting with wonderful views and it was obvious that a great deal of thought had been put into this very special day.
The guests also enjoyed seeing the sheep, chickens, ducks and pigs, including very young piglets.
We spent 4 nights at the Lethbridge Arms in Bishops Lydeard, a lovely 16th century pub which was previously a Coaching Inn. Our accommodation was very comfortable and very tastefully furnished and the landlord and his staff were very helpful and made our stay very enjoyable. Paul Green and his wife Stella took over the pub about a year ago, it was pretty run down and they have done wonders in refurbishing it to make it a focal point of the village, we noted there were many locals who popped in during the evenings. Paul and Stella’s son, Chris, is the chef and his girl-friend Kelly helps to run the bar. Stella was on hand in the mornings during our stay to prepare breakfasts for the guests staying there, and very nice they were too. Paul told me he is originally from Tiverton in Devon and he has been running pubs for the last 4 years. He and his family are very happy at the Lethbridge Arms in Bishops Lydeard, which is the largest village in Somerset.
We had a brief shopping trip to Taunton, to look for a new suitcase to replace my damaged one which had arrived at Stansted minus a wheel! After finding a car park we strolled through a lovely park to the shopping centre where we spotted what appeared to be a very old tree. Unfortunately there was no information in the area about the tree but it certainly looked very old with many gnarled branches which looked like gargoyles.
We had discovered the West Somerset Railway, which is the longest heritage railway in England, and being a lover of steam trains I insisted that we took a trip on the train from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead on the morning we were to leave for Devon. This was a lovely trip, with the train stopping at many small stations on the way and after a short stop in Minehead we made the return journey back to Bishops Lydeard and then started our journey to Devon.
The heavens opened and it poured with rain for almost all of the journey to Newton Abbot where we were to be staying with my cousin who has just returned to the UK after 48 years in Australia. We eventually found the house and it was lovely to see my cousin and his wife, who I had not seen since attending their wedding in Perth way back in 2003. We had much to catch up on and the following evening we got together with my niece, her daughter and husband and 2 children and had a double celebration as it was also my cousin’s birthday.
While we were in Devon we had a day out and my cousin took us to Dartmouth, via the Kingswear Ferry, this was a first for me as I had never done this trip before. It was rather a grey day but the rain kept away and we spent a few hours browsing around the many art galleries and shops, had a lovely lunch, and then made our way back.
Another 6½ hour journey back to Billericay where we stayed with Chris’s eldest son and his wife for the remainder of our UK trip. This was an opportunity to catch up on a bit of shopping for items we had promised to bring back to North Cyprus for friends and also some odds and ends for myself!
We managed to meet up with our friend Ismail Veli in London for lunch but apart from that we regret time was running out and we were not able to catch up with some of the friends and acquaintances we have made over the past few years through cyprusscene.com.
I have reflected on this last trip to the UK and my feelings about return visits – too much traffic, too many people, unpredictable weather, to name a few. Nevertheless the countryside is beautiful and away from motorways and major roads, it is a pleasure to drive around the country lanes. With the amount of travelling done this time I also have mixed views on the standard of driving in North Cyprus – we saw some horrendous driving which could have resulted in dreadful accidents, generally the driving standards in the UK are ok but I suppose there are always idiots on the road wherever you go and we certainly came across quite a few of these very inconsiderate drivers.
After 2 weeks in the UK I was more than ready to return to the more laid-back lifestyle in North Cyprus and we made our way to Stansted for what we knew was going to be a rather trying journey back to Ercan Airport, North Cyprus via Turkey, the only acceptable route for us and one sadly dictated by worldwide embargoes. You can read about this somewhat stressful trip by clicking here