Why I Prefer To Travel When It’s Cold

In all my travels around Britishland, I’d never been to the little town of Cheddar, whence the eponymous cheese is derived. So yesterday, as it was warm and not raining, I decided to rectify that with a little day trip to check the place out.

The route from Free Market Towers encompasses, as one would imagine, scenes of indescribable pastoral beauty: rolling hills, freshly-harvested fields or else emerald-green expanses populated by sheep and/or cattle, stone walls, the occasional stately home à la FM Towers, and occasionally an actual castle or two. (More on that topic anon.) Here’s an example, one of hundreds, of a church in an otherwise unknown little town:

On and on I went (no main roads on my travels, no sir), until the scenery suddenly changed: into a gorge I swept, with towering cliffs and tight corners on the twisty little road:

…but here’s why I prefer to travel when it’s either late autumn or even winter.

You see, because it’s the summer school holidays Over Here, about a zillion people had had the same idea as I, with the subsequent dolorous result:

That was only one of about a dozen car parks scattered along the road that wound through the gorge — and almost everyone had walked the mile or two down the road into Cheddar itself. If you can imagine the Boardwalk on the Jersey Shores over a midsummer weekend, you’ll get the picture. I couldn’t stop to buy cheese — in fact, I couldn’t even stop to get a picture of the mayhem, so crowded was the place.

So in foul humor I retraced my steps out of Cheddar and back, more or less, along the same way I’d come.

Because you see, en route I had been rather taken with a tiny little village named Norton St. Philip, which had not one, but two interesting pubs on its narrow streets. I picked the George:

…because a.) there was lots of parking and b.) because Observant Readers will note the presence of the “Wadworth” brewery sign, which meant the wondrous beverage 6X (which I sorely needed after the disappointment of Cheddar). I discovered reason c.), by the way, as I walked into the place:

So: heritage, hangings, history and 6X all in one place — like I was going to pass up that little combination — and the George wasn’t crowded either, so I could sit in undisturbed peace and quiet and enjoy my lunch of lamb’s liver with bacon and mashed potato, all washed down by a glass of refreshing 6X.


And on the topic of heaven, here’s a view of the church at Norton St. Philip, just below the pub and across the village green (and it’s even more beautiful than my humble pic suggests):

I’ll be back — but only when it’s colder. The George has this huge fireplace in the pub, you see, and rooms with bathrooms, so I won’t need to stay sober to drive home. Hell, I might just call The George home and never leave Norton St. Philip…


  1. They will have to add another line to the chalk board alluding to your use of the rest of your life. I am beginning to get the opinion it is better to be where you want to be than be where you get paid to be.

  2. It seems to me that one is more able to find a quiet pub or restaurant in the UK. Have you found that too? Or do you even notice or care?

    I rarely go into pubs back here in North America. This is mainly because I have grown to hate, loathe, despise Muzak, the never ending audio systems blaring either bad music at me, or good music I have heard ten thousand times already. Even the small bars in rural southern Alberta or northern Montana where I used to go during hunting season have all acquired a lot of ugly noise. Sometimes it’s all so loud one can’t carry on any conversation at all without yelling.

    My wife and sons say I’m just an old curmudgeon and as crazy as my dad who hated noise too.

    1. I notice. Even regular restaurants like Outback are getting loud enough it’s more difficult to converse. We may be curmudgeons, but it’s the others that are crazy…

      1. you’re right about the noise level. I find it very off putting. I don’t care how good the food is. If I can’t hear folks talk then it’s a bad time.

    2. There is no place I’ve found in the states worthy of the term ‘pub’. Including, especially, those that advertise themselves as such. Oh, and who put the bloody soccer goal in the middle of a perfectly good cricket pitch?

      More to the subject matter at hand, whilst stationed in what was then West Germany I decided to catch a hop as they say and fly space-available on an air force transport out of Rhein-Main AFB. Figured since it was February there wouldn’t be many travelers. Oh for the Love of Life Orchestra… I spent five days at Rhein-Main and if it hadn’t been for two unscheduled C-5A’s configured for passengers dropping by I might still be there (this was in 1981). To add insult to injury I allowed for another 5 day hosing flying back to the FRG and showed up at Dover AFB accordingly. Got back to my unit with about an hour to spare shy of being declared AWOL. (In the US military travel time is counted against your leave, just so ya know.)

      In the book ‘The Forgotten Soldier’ by Guy Sajer one thing I noticed was that when he was allowed to go on leave from the Russian front his leave didn’t start until he checked in at the local gendarmerie in his home town on arrival, and ended when he checked out with them on his way back. I thought this was a quite sensible policy and wondered why we didn’t do that, also. Given the number of Wehrmachtophiles still in the Army at the time I was sure this would work. Eh.

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