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Monday, May 24, 2010

The trouble with staying in a caravan which is essentially built out of reinforced cardboard, is that when Amelie starts banging on the wall at 7:30am, it's hard to sleep through it. Suffice it to say, we had an early start on Wednesday. On the plus side, the lack of soundproofing meant that when Lisa's Mum started offering Amelie biscuits within five seconds of the girl getting up, we could hear every word. So we'll know where to send the bill for her stomach-stapling in twenty years time. She can go halves with my parents.

Personally, I only encourage Amelie to drink. Having browsed our 'Things To See & Do in Somerset' brochure, and discovered that the county is home to the world's largest Bakelite museum, I weighed up our options, and decided to take Amelie to the nearest cider farm...

Apple of My Eye
I had her over a barrel at one point, but she wouldn't sit still for the photo.

To be honest, there wasn't much to do at Rich's Cider Farm other than go scrumping and buy dairy products, so we loaded up on apple flavoured cheeses, bought a jar of Banana Curd, and headed back to the caravan.

The cheese we bought turned out to be one of the nicest I've ever tasted, so having eaten most of it for lunch, there was only one place to go in the afternoon. Here I am saying cheese in Cheddar...

Cheddar was Gorgeous (obviously). It's like the Grand Canyon on a budget. Not only is there a gorge to explore, but two spectacular caves, a lookout tower, a museum and an open-topped tour bus. As the brochure puts it, "It's a full day out". So naturally we got there at 3:30pm. A full hour before they close.

Fortunately they cater for people like us. In return for £28, they gave us three 'End of Day' tickets and a souvenir guide to show us what we'd missed. The tickets entitled us to visit only one of the caves, but frankly, by the time you've stumbled around in the dark for half an hour with a hyperactive toddler on reins, you're only too happy to get back to the car park.

It was good while it lasted though. Here are a couple of Flintstones and a stalag-mite in Gough's Cave...

Lisa's wearing a CareLink panic button around her neck in case she has a fall.

Reading our souvenir guide, it seems we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men (and possibly women) (but probably men) who have sucessfully explored these caves over the years, opening them up through a combination of digging and subterranean diving, and allowing us all to enjoy the results. The guide provides this photo of two such explorers at work...

Jamie Oliver
That Jamie Oliver gets everywhere.

Ultimately though, if you're going to visit Cheddar, you've got to buy some cheese. Apparently there's now only one Cheddar cheese which is actually made in Cheddar, and they leave it to mature in the caves...

Say Cheese
I had to physically restrain Amelie from climbing the steps and tasting it.

So having emerged into the gift shop, I naturally had to buy myself a chunk at all costs. All costs being £22.95 per kilo. It's the first cheese I've ever bought by credit card. I'd tell you what it's like, but I haven't tried it yet. I lost my appetite when I saw the price.