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Clare's Counties -- Chew Valley, Bristol

A few years ago I used to run a series of blogs under the general heading of Clare's Counties. Since I moved to Portugal I have not done much to continue that series, but perhaps now is as good a time as any to re-connect with the old country.
The UK does seem to be going through a strange period. There seems to be a distinct lack of faith in being a Brit these days. The country is also pestered with a seriously inept bunch of politicians no matter which side of the table you prefer to sit. The conservatives really do appear to be a bunch of jellies, and labour is mired in an imagined world that ceased to exist with the end of the second world war.
But, if you get out and about, life doesn't seem to mirror what the general media would have us believe. Life goes on, and it seems to be going on very well.
I have spent most of the last three months travelling around the UK, and the people I've met have been charming, they all seem to be prospering. Yes, they hate the mob in Westminster, or simply ignore them as being utterly irrelevant, and they are still buying and selling houses, which is what this website is about.
I have been travelling pretty well all over North Somerset recently, from Portishead, where an old school-friend lives, down to Yeovil where I have a few caustic remarks to make about the local magistrates court, but the main area I have been covering is known simply as the Chew Valley.
The river itself is not exactly easy to spot. From source to the Avon is only about seventeen miles, where it empties into the larger river at Keynsham. It is damned along its route to form the Chew Valley lake (which only goes to show how much it can rain on top of the Mendips, which is where all this water comes from.

River Chew

But it is a wonderful part of the world. You have the large city of Bristol as a hub, and that hub is not only a hub for intersecting motorways, but the airport has grown beyond belief over the years.
I remember when it was called Lulsgate (after the village at the bottom of the hill), and I used to take my mother there to catch a plane to Dublin. Now you can go pretty well anywhere in the world.
You have the beauty spots of Burrington and Cheddar, the local milk and cheese, and the area is still on the edge of the sheep rearing hills and pastures where the woollen industry has thrived for centuries.

Aveline Hole, Burrington

The earliest scientifically dated cemetery in Great Britain was found at Aveline's Hole at Burrington. The human bone fragments it contained, from about twenty-one different individuals, are thought to be between roughly 10,200 and 10,400 years old. A series of inscribed crosses found on the wall of the Aveline's Hole cave are believed to date from the early Mesolithic period just after the last Ice Age.
This is also where a certain Rev Toplady got caught in the rain and tried to hide in a cleft in the rock. He subsequently wrote a poem about his experience which was later turned into the well-known hymn, Rock of Ages.
Interestingly, someone took some DNA samples from people living in Cheddar some while back. The fascinating finding was that four of those people could be traced as descendants from the stone age people who used to live in the caves. Now that's some family tree!
One of the great pleasures for me is to hire a car on a late spring morning and drive down through the quaint villages, and along the winding lanes of this part of the world. The views can be spectacular, especially as one drives south down the A 38 highway. They are also spectacular from the heights of Dundry, where you can sit in the churchyard and look over Bristol spread at your feet, and off towards the fields of Gloucestershire.
Dundry church...

Dundry Church

and the view...

View from Dundry church

The last time I was there I was hoping to sample the delights of the local inn, but it was closed. However, this is another great thing about this part of the world; the quality of some of the inns. Of course there are the industrial places which are soulless. But all along that A 38 are a selection of pubs, most offering great deals, fine ales, and plenty of charm.
Next week I will introduce you to a few of my favourite places along the way. And in the third episode of this short series I will introduce you to some real estate that is for sale in this area. So, Stay Tuned!

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