Monday, December 01, 2003

Somerset weekend

Usual Berry's bus out to Wincanton to see Trev and Jane. Rapturous welcome from dogs. And relatives, it goes without saying.
Saturday is Judge Jeffrey's day.
We go with Trev or on the standard service-bus run he takes, to Dorchester. The trip is through back lanes, far from what tourists ever see. And it is raining very heavily at times.
The lanes are down to single lane at times, all are sealed, and there seems to be two basic rules:
1 - don't go straight for more than 200 metres
2 - dig them into the landscape by 1-3 metres
Rule #1 means overtaking is practically impossible, and passing by head-on trafiic is fraught.
Rule #2 means that the lanes become the de facto drain for the surrounding catchment, and mud from the dug-in-ness under these conditions is inevitable. Plus, there is literally nowhere to go if trouble occurs. Those banks are unyielding.
Narrow, twisty, muddy: that's Somerset country lanes. 20-30mph max, on the single track bits: there's just too much risk of not being able to negotiate a bend or execute a passing maneouvre otherwise.
But needless to say, this also makes the lanes quite beautiful in their own way. And, of course, almost impossible to change or improve: they're too embedded.
The little villages (Stallbridge, Sturminster, Plush, Mappowder) start to blur into each other: they share similar features: a twisty, narrow road through them with buildings crowding the road, a pub, a few houses, a crossing or central open space with a signpost or monument. Repeat every 3-5 miles.
Passed the River Piddle, and took a photo on the way back for Ike. Toilet humour always goes down well at age 6.

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