Dog Walks in Somerset – Cheddar Gorge

Okay, before I get going on this post, I just need to get the following out of my system. I thought the Cheddar Gorge tourist attraction was awful. Partly, because it’s not really aimed at me or my situation, but also because it’s tacky & has spoilt a quaint village with overpriced hideousness. I’m sure that if you’re a kid you think it’s ace, but at my age, it’s awful and not worth the ticket price £20! (though I can reuse my ticket any time in the next 10 years. I won’t be doing that!) Once we bought out tickets (Poppydog went free), we headed down into a cave with a hideous audio tour. I hate audio tours. I can’t explain why, but I do. Needless to say, we didn’t spend long down in the cave. I could have lived without ever going down there to be honest. Not worth it in my opinion. I don’t think you need to buy a ticket to walk the Cheddar Gorge, as there are numerous ways you can access it without having to give up your precious money. (Can you tell I’m bitter about this?!)

View from Cheddar GorgeThe walk is awesome. Hard work, but awesome. We climbed the 200+ steps to get up to the cliff top walk and it’s a non-stop climb that, at times, feels like it is never going to end. (Can I just point out that I live in Oxfordshire, which is pretty flat on the whole?!) You don’t have to go very far before you realise that the views are pretty spectacular. The walk isn’t easy, as it’s fairly rocky so you have to keep an eye on where you’re walking.

The Cheddar Gorge Poppydog at Cheddar GorgeOnce we’d got to the top, we stopped for some lunch, which consisted of Tofurkey rolls, crisps and an apple. Lush! Poppy was ace walking the whole way up. She really enjoyed the smells and, as per usual, liked getting close to the edge of the cliff. I didn’t, so kept my distance! After lunch, we headed down towards the road. This was a pretty easy descent and we spotted some wild goats having a bit to eat too.

Cheddar Gorge goats Cheddar Gorge view Walking Chedder GorgeWhen you get down to the road, you have a choice. You can either walk along the road back to the hideous tourist attraction or cross the road and climb up the other side of the gorge. Having climbed a ridiculous number of flights already, common sense would probably say ‘just head back to the car’. But that’s not what we did! Powered by Tofurkey, we headed on to the other side of the road and started to climb the opposite side of the gorge. This wasn’t particularly easy. In fact, it was fairly savage. It’s a good job I didn’t know that worse was to come, as I would probably have just set up camp and move there to avoid walking up. It’s steep, uneven and very, very high. And I fell over.

Cheddar Gorge walk The Cheddar Gorge WalkThere are some great flowers on the gorge and quite a bit of livestock, which I always love seeing. The view was breathtaking the whole way. Then you get to the descent. I was really pleased to be heading back down (the map tells you it takes two hours. This is a lie!) The final descent is terrifying. Now, I have dodgy knees and going down hills can cause me pain and I didn’t take my walking pole/stick, so I did have to go pretty slowly. But that descent is a killer. It just goes on and on, using leg muscles you never knew you had! The ground is also quite tricky, with massive tree roots and loose stones. When you get to the end, you (almost) want to kiss the ground. You definitely want to sit down and eat cake.

While the challenge of the walk was awesome, I wouldn’t do it again, just because it was so brutal. However, it does link in with the West Mendip Way, which I would be interested in walking and there is a nature reserve, which looks a little bit easier on the knees. We didn’t go into any of the shops there, as it was mega busy so we just headed back to our wigwam for a snooze and some cake.

The Walk: Brutal. It looks us about three and a half hours but we didn’t go particularly fast, plus I’m slow on hills and I fell over. We also stopped for a picnic. Having said that, you won’t want to rush it because it’s pretty awesome.
Cost: It can be free, if you go up one of the paths from the road, but if you want to climb the steps like we did (don’t!), it’ll cost you £19.95 of your hard earned pounds.
Car Park: There’s quite a bit of parking at the Gorge costing £5, but there are also lots of areas where you can park for free. If you get there late in the day, this might be your only option.
Refreshments: There’s a Costa at the tourist bit (woohoo) and about a million tea rooms (slight exaggeration!)
Toilets: There are some at the Gorge but I didn’t notice any others about.

Vegan Food in Bristol

One of the things I was looking forward to, going to Bristol, was the food. I’ve followed Vegan Bristol for a while on Twitter and the food that they share on there is mouthwatering. There were two places I knew I wanted to visit: VX and Cafe Kino. VX is all about vegan junk food. And junk food is my favourite. They sell burgers, hotdogs and cakes galore. They also have a selection of vegan groceries, including the biggest variety of cheese I have ever seen!SSOV Bristol Vegan oreo milkshake Vx Classic burgerAfter a massive walk, we headed for VX. I had already decided on a classic burger with ketchup. What I didn’t know was that they also do milkshake – Vego bar and Oreo. As it had been over a year since my last milkshake, I ordered an oreo milkshake to wash down my burger. It was AMAZING! God I love milkshakes! Everything was spot on. The burger was tasty, came with tortilla chips, which had added a lovely bit of spice. I was pretty much in heaven and cannot wait to go back.

Vx Bristol Vegan food in Bristol Vegan cookie sandwich Vegan custard tart Vegan chocolate cakeAfter we ate, Phil and I did a bit of shopping, buying up cheese, tofurkey and squirty cream. All the basics! We also got some cakes to take away. We shared the custard tart, which was delicious, and the cookie sandwich, which was a bit too sugary for me. I also got a slice of the chocolate and peanut butter cake for the next day and it was immense! It was the perfect reward for walking Cheddar Gorge the next day. If anyone thinks vegan diets are dull & mega healthy, you need to get yourself to VX!

Cafe Kino Cafe Kino breakfastOn our last morning, we packed everything up and headed to Cafe Kino for breakfast. I’m always surprised that more cafes don’t seem to cater for vegans at brunch because how hard can it really be?! Look at this plate of deliciousness, all washed down with a brew. Cafe Kino is a cooperative and has sustainable food production and ethics at the heart of what it does. The food is locally sourced and is 100% vegan (they do have dairy milk for non-vegans to have in hot drinks). I ordered the Full Kino breakfast and it was fantastic. Phil had the small kino and had wanted a smoothie to go with it, but the blender was broken. I was gutted, because I wanted to sample their milkshakes. I saw on Twitter that they have a new one, so that’s good. The rest of their menu looks amazing and I’d love to go back to sample their salads. The cafe has a lovely feel and is a great spot to sit, chat, work or watch the world go by. They also have a Suspended Coffee jar on the counter, which is a great way of helping you do something small but kind for someone who needs it. Awesome 🙂

Both Cafe Kino and VX are dog friendly meaning Poppy was made to feel as welcome as we were. I was impressed by the options and standard of vegan food in Bristol. Oxford really needs to up its game.

Glamping in Bristol

Last year, we went on a glamping holiday, which is the closest I’ve ever got to camping. This year, we went to Bristol to stay in a wigwam for a last minute break. I had no idea what to expect and wasn’t sure how basic it would be. I was pleasantly surprised. The wigwam was fantastic, as were the amenities available on site. We were in one of three wigwams (the dog friendly one), only one of which was used for one night while we were there, so it was nice and quiet.

View of BristolBristol Wigwams Inside Bristol wigwamEach of the wigwams have a picnic bench outside, to sit and enjoy the amazing view of Bristol. Inside, the accommodation is basic, but good quality, clean and comfortable. There’s heating, hot water, a microwave, fridge, kettle and toaster (which, as we don’t have one, I was super excited about!) There’s basic crockery and cutlery, though we didn’t really cook, save for some jacket potatoes and beans, so it wasn’t much of an issue. There’s a sofa, table & chairs out of shot, the door in the picture above leads to the bathroom, which is better than our bathroom at home. I am not kidding. Now, lets talk about the bed. You have to bring your own bedding. No problem. I was worried about the bed, as I need a firm mattress for my back and a lot of times, I’ll stay somewhere and the mattress is super soft, leaving me in agony. This bed, however, was super firm and perfect for me. We stayed for three nights and the wigwam was the perfect base for us. I would happily stay here again.

Sunny Bristol Bristol sunsetBristol at nightThe views into Bristol are spectacular and I can only imagine how the hot air balloon festival looked from here. It was great looking out, spotting different things in and around Bristol. I was really amazed to see both Seven Bridge crossings. Having spent years crossing them, it was funny to see them both at once. The one thing I was really impressed with was the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which lights up at night. It’s really impressive, both from a distance and close up. We didn’t sit out a lot, as it was really windy, and not that warm, plus the Olympics were on. There are log stoves/BBQ’s available for each of the wigwams, and you can buy kindling, lighters and logs there. Phil made an awesome fire one night, so I sat out under my blanket while the sun went down.

View of BristolBristol viewEverything about staying at the wigwam was easy. It is really well placed for exploring the city, as well as other local hotspots, some of which were better than others. (I’ll write more about these later.) The fields opposite the wigwam site can be used by people staying at the wigwam, and we did a lovely walk one evening through them with Poppy. There are two extra shower/toilets in the amenities block, as well as a games room that has a pool table in it. There are also spare chairs to sit outside that are a bit comfier than sitting at the picnic table. We were sent codes that gave us access to the site and the key for our wigwam. Everything was straight forward, which is want you want for a holiday. I can’t recommend the wigwams enough and as we were only there for three nights, there are lots of other things I’d like see and do so would love to go back for another stay.

Filofax Planning

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a stationery geek. I love it, whether it’s a new pencil, notebook or my school planner, I am in heaven. As I was coloring in my timetable and updating my calendar with new school dates and events for the next academic year, I decided that I needed to pimp up my Filofax (similar one here) a bit. My Filofax is my life. It’s where I put all my jobs for school (and I always have lots!), as well as addresses and other bits of useful information so it’s important that it looks good and colourful.

My Pretty Week Filofax dividersFred and Bell planner stickersFilofax planning

It definitely needed new dividers, as the old ones were very, very dog eared. After a quick search on Etsy, I came across My Pretty Week, who have a massive range of dividers. I went for the geometric patterned ones, which are doubled sided. I am so impressed with the quality of the dividers. They’re stronger than the ones the Filofax came with, which is great, as I hope these last a long time because I love them! I’m really happy with them.

I also saw a tweet about Fred and Bell planner stickers and thought that they would be a great addition to my Filofax. I got a mixture of the everyday icon stickers and the flag stickers, which I’ll use for blog planning. I also use specific colour pens for certain things, green for holidays, red for school events and deadlines, and I highlight appointments to make them stand out. I use washi tapes in two different ways. I make tabs that stick out for appointments and I also fold it over the edge of the page for special occasions, holidays, that kind of thing.

In September, I’m going to be full time at school and the need to be organised, or at the very least, feel organised, and I’m hoping that my colorful and stylish Filofax will help with that!