I hope you enjoy my thoughtful list about what makes Somerset shine!
- The countryside Having lived in Hampshire and Wiltshire I have to say the countryside here in Somerset seems to me more unspoilt and more easily accessible, particularly from where we lived in Hampshire. Where I grew up, in East Coker, it was easy to find your very own piece of green with no one else around. The prolific American writer, John Steinbeck said this of Somerset: “Time loses all it’s meaning. The peace I have dreamed about is here; a real thing thick as stone and feelable and something for your hands”. (Quoted in Maurice Fell’s Little Book of Somerset).
- The people I feel instantly at ease when I hear the accent I grew up with. I would say the people here tend to be friendly, accepting, creative, resourceful, understanding and the opposite of greedy. Obviously there are exceptions!
- The places to visit I don’t think we realise what we’ve got in Somerset. I’m thinking of Glastonbury Tor, Yeovil Country Park (including the ornamental area of Ninesprings) and Ham Hill. I’m going to name and shame here and say that Itchen Valley Country Park in Hampshire where I used to live is just a field with an expensive car park, and not a patch on what we have to offer here.
- The location We border so many other counties! Devon is great for holidays and Dorset too has beautiful beaches. There’s Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, with loads of options for museums and city life. Wiltshire, with the beautiful cathedral town of Salisbury and world renowned Stonehenge isn’t far. Somerset isn’t too far from London, around 2 and a half hours on the train.
- The unique food and drink In Somerset you’ll find apple orchards all over supplying cider to the shops and pubs. Somerset also famously produces cheddar cheese, smoked applewood (try it!), and there is even a water buffalo farm, and escargot farm!
- The place names Many of the names have a poetic beauty or a unique flavour to them. A sample of these are Chard, Charlton Mackrell, Wookey Hole, Chilthorne Domer and Curry Rivel. My personal favourite is Queen Camel. It’s thought that the Celtic words “Cant” (district) and “Mael” (bare hill) blended to become Camel. Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry III owned the land in the 13th century. There you go.