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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

summer people

We have been having the worst floods in 50 years in out part of the world, and there is more to come in other parts of the country. I feel sorry for the people whose home have been flooded, some of them 2nd or 3rd time in last few years. There is an advantage to living on the top of the hill, although we pay for it in the times of high winds.
We live close to one of the areas which has a long history of floods,  Somerset Levels, or the Summer Lands, as it sometimes used to be called. It is believed that this is where our county of Somerset got its name  from. The people living here were called the Summer People, because they could live on the Levels only during the summer; for the winter they took themselves and their livestock to the surrounding hills, when the whole area of the Levels was flooded. It is one of the flattest and lowest places in the country, just a few meters above the sea level. There had been attempts to drain it as far back as the Roman times, with various success. It is now managed by a combination of many draining channels and a sea defense. Although none of that helped this week, the area is totally under water.
Just to remind you that here on "" you can click on any of the highlighted  words and it will take to another window with lots more information.

We visited the Levels some 10 days ago, just before the floods. It was a misty, foggy day, so no decent picture. We came mainly to visit John Leach Pottery. I love the simplicity of their pots, the one I own has become my favourite baking dish.
In the recent years the shop was extended to the back to create a gallery, a place for exhibitions of works by local artists.

This was where, a couple of years ago, I saw for the first time works by the photographer and film maker
John Waters, although I must had seen his wild life films on BBC without realizing they were made by him.
I love his haunting pictures of the Levels and I fell in love with one in particular. Our DS was with us at the time, and not long after he surprised us with the signed print of the same picture, which is now hanging on our wall. You can see more of John Waters work here

Another one of "my special places" is the Willows and Wetlands Centre, where I can't visit without buying another basket (which I need, of course) made from locally grown willow.

The whole area is very special; legends of King Arthur and his followers, fairies and magic of the Glastonbury Tor, which dominates the landscape; on the misty day this all becomes very real.
No wonder so many artists are drawn to the place and many of them never leave.
Recently, just by a chance, I saw a book "Medieval Needlepoint", by Candace Bahouth, an American, now living close to Glastonbury, not so many miles from me. Have a look at her very interesting and varied art.

Another interest is the rich wild life of the Levels, which you find out more about here.

One of the current projects is re-introduction of cranes to the area, which were wiped out, mainly by hunting, over 400 years ago, see The Great Crane Project. 

Our journey to the Levels and back always takes us through Somerton, which was the capital of Wessex in the 10th century. I like to stop here whenever passing and visit the permanent  home of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen, to see any new exhibits.

I love living in Somerset. It is magical.

Sandi_Toksvig, Danish author, comedian, radio and TV presenter who lives in England, was asked recently why she had decided to settle here. She said that where ever you live in England you are not many miles from something interesting....

© 2012


  1. Dear Radka,
    Sad, that people again were flooded, it must be very hard for them, hopefully they will get some help. You article about your surroundings is very informativ and interesting, thank you for it -

  2. We enjoy the odd day out to Somerset, visiting Glastonbury or watching the starlings on the levels.
    I am also thankful that I live on a hill!

  3. Yes, Radka, you do live in an exciting part of the world. You always seem to have something interesting and informative to share with your readers, and I'm sure that is why you have such a successful blog. Your pictures and stories are excellent. Take care.


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