I have a confession to make. On Friday, when I posted about my recent camping trip to Watchet, it was a complete accident. I hadn’t actually finished the post, but I only realised a couple of hours later that I’d accidentally hit the Post button. It seems I still haven’t got used to my new touchscreen laptop yet! Fortunately, I’d ended the draft at a place that kind of made sense, so hopefully none of you noticed too much. And, here is the rest of the story…
We were certainly not short of things to do during our two and a bit days in Somerset. A quick trip to the tourist information office in Watchet and a conversation with two very helpful locals left us with a list of possibilities. As my goddaughter had never been on a steam train (or the ‘puff puff train’ as she called it), a journey on the West Somerset Railway was a must. Run very professionally by volunteers, the railway line travels from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. The Watchet station is incredibly quaint. I would have loved to spend more time looking through the second hand books on sale, but it wasn’t really fair to expect the kids to watch me shop.
My previous experience of a steam railway is the Zillertalbahn where I used to work in Mayrhofen, Austria. Riding on the traditional steam train always sounded romantic, but in reality you disembarked at the other end of the valley covered in a fine layer of black soot. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the West Somerset Railway trains are nothing like that at all. The trains are a very comfortable, practical form of transport and the volunteers make the experience even more enjoyable. When we made the rookie error of getting on the wrong train and travelling one stop in the opposite direction to where we were supposed to, the conductor simply smiled and said ‘Don’t worry, you’re not the first and you probably won’t be the last’. Aside from our little diversion, we caught the train one stop up from Watchet to Doniford Halt and walked down to Doniford Farm. There are lots of farm parks and zoos in the area, but they all seemed quite expensive. Doniford Farm has an impressive array of animals, activities for the kids and it’s free to visit.
As a plant-based vegetarian, I am against animal farming. However, if it is going to be part of our culture and my godchildren are going to eat meat, I think it’s important for them to be able to visit farms and have some understanding of where their food comes from. Doniford Farm also has a beautiful walled kitchen garden. I was quite jealous of their strawberries which seemed to grow effortlessly in neat rows. It’s a far cry from the state of our strawberries in the community garden!