Most of our housesitting assignments are booked through the TrustedHouseSitters website but occasionally we get asked privately after being referred by a previous host. Our new sit was exactly that. If you remember, we have looked after Ed the German Pointer in Essex a couple of times and his owners Mary and Simon recommended us to their best friends in the West Country (keeping up so far?).
Deepest Darkest Zummerzet
Not sure why everyone calls it deep or dark but understand the Zummerzett bit completely. Some of the locals have such heavy accents that we struggle to understand a word that they say. After our brief family weekend in Georgeham Devon with Jo’s brother we headed across the county line to the town of Long Sutton to meet the lovely Anne and Richard and their labrador Jura.
Anne met us at Sherbourne station and gave us a lift back to Long Sutton and the tiny hamlet of Knole where we would be staying in their 500 year old thatched cottage for three weeks. We had arranged to look after two labradors but very sadly the elderly Islay had passed away a month or two earlier so it was just eleven year old Jura to care for. Anne and Richard made us unbelievably welcome when we arrived and even arranged for their son, Dicken, and a couple of close neighbours to pop in for a drink and get to know us.
Knole is a tiny place with a handful of stone houses, no shop, no pub, but glorious countryside on all sides. The hamlet gets its name from the small hill that dominates it, the Knoll, and up which we have taken Jura for many of her daily walks. I love the meaning of the word Knoll. It’s either a hillock, hump, acclivity, eminence, hummock or knob (don’t say a word). Whatever it’s called there are lots of them all over Somersets generally flat terrain.
Daily life in the hamlet
It doesn’t take us long these days to adapt to a new routine of sorts and settle into a new house and within a day or so it was like we had lived here all of our lives. Jura is very easy to look after as long as she gets her breakfast at 7am and her dinner at 5pm with a long long walk in between. So well behaved and seems to like nothing more than cuddling up on the settee.
Anne had kindly let us use their car so we could get out and about to shops etc. A trip to Yeovil for Jo to get some new glasses gave us a chance to explore the town but to be honest we were very disappointed. Don’t want to upset any of you West Country born-and-bred followers but it was a bit of a dump and we couldn’t wait to leave.
Lyme Regis and Broadchurch
Well not Broadchurch exactly but West Bay where they filmed the brilliant ITV drama. More on that in a moment. We headed down to the Dorset coast, another county, to the resort of Lyme Regis to take Jura for a couple of windy beach walks. As long as you’re wrapped up in coats and gloves there aren’t many things better than a bracing stroll along a beach in winter, we love it.
It’s undoubtedly very different in the summer but our walk along the seafront past the beach huts and along the harbour was so good. Jura seemed to love the sounds and smells of the seaside too and was unbelievably well behaved whenever we met other dogs. I remember going to Lyme Regis as a scout many years ago when we hired a boat to go mackerel fishing but didn’t really recall much more than that. Seemed a nice little town.
Five miles to the east is West Bay, which is a town but primarily famous for being where they filmed the drama series Broadchurch with Olivia Coleman and David Tennant. Jo remembered a lot of the scenes from the show but it was the huge imposing yellow cliffs that reminded us more than anything. Fairly iconic and very impressive.
A few days later we headed in the opposite direction, up to the town of Glastonbury. Now most of you will only know Glastonbury for the huge music festival that it hosts every year but the town is far more than that. The festival isn’t actually in the town, it’s in Pilton. It’s claimed that the settlement is thousands of years old, in fact the Sweet Track to the west of the town dates back to 3800 BC making it the oldest road in the world (reputedly). The town is famous for its New Age community and every single shop appears to be full of pagan and religious oddities and crafts. Every other person appears to be a hippie straight from 1969 too which gives it a certain laid-back, carefree attitude.
We headed out of town though as we aimed to climb the famous Glastonbury Tor, a knoll or hill just on the edge of town past the abbey. Known as Ynys Wydryn by the Celts, which meant ‘isle of Glass’, Glastonbury seems to have a connection to every legend going from the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur, to the Holy Grail, to the visit of Joseph of Arimathea. Obviously all completely true ………….
Climbing the Tor
The walk from the town was only a mile or so but fairly steep so we hiked off and made our way up to the Tor. At the top is St Michaels Tower built in the 14th century although remains of previous churches up there from the 10th century have been found. The Tor is heavily mentioned in Celtic mythology and also features in the King Arthur myth. It’s called the ‘Isle of Avalon‘ by the Britons and is held as the centre of the Goddess movement too. So there is mythology and legend at every turn and at the top we found lots of people meditating and seemingly in touch with whatever the Tor has to offer. We just loved the views to be honest.
12/11 – 22/11/2018