Mechanical puppets & booming birds!
Hello and welcome to issue 3! We hope by now you're getting into the habit of reading our Wednesday morning briefings featuring some of the best things happening in Somerset over the next few days. We also hope it stops raining soon…
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GIANT MECHANICAL PUPPET OF THE WEEK
THE MAN ENGINE
Radstock, Friday 6 April, Tickets £10-£16.50 / concs £6-£13
The Man Engine is the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, created to mark the 10th anniversary of the Cornwall mining landscape becoming a Unesco World Heritage Site. On Friday, it's coming to Radstock, the historic centre of the Somerset coal-fields, for two shows. The Afternooner (12pm) is aimed at families, while The Afterdarker (6.30pm) is an edgier, more explosive experience. Click here for tickets (which are a fair bit cheaper in advance).
CAFE OF THE WEEK
SQUARE EDGE CAFÉ, WELLS
2 Town Hall Buildings, Wells, BA5 1SE
Although only a couple of minutes from the cathedral, Square Edge feels slightly off Wells' beaten track. Housed in an 18th century building once used as an eating room for prisoners, it's well worth the diversion for its great breakfasts (notably the eggy bread); cracking cakes (try the Guinness and chocolate); and arguably the finest coffee that England's smallest city can offer. Visit their website here.
DAY (/EVENING) OUT OF THE WEEK
FIREWORKS AT SEA / EAT WESTON FOOD FESTIVAL
Grand Pier, Weston-super-Mare, Saturday 7 April, 8.30pm, £7.50 (under 3s free)
Finish off the school holidays with a bang in Weston-super-Mare on Saturday, with the Fireworks at Sea event. You can, of course, watch for free from the sea front, but £7.50 buys you entry to the Grand Pier, where you'll get the best views *and* unlimited rides. Get there early for the Eat Weston Food Festival, which is taking place in the heart of the town that day from 9am-5pm, with a wide range of stalls, plus livestock, tractors and cooking demos.
WALK OF THE WEEK
BITTERN WALK AT HAM WALL RESERVE
Ham Wall Reserve, Ashcott Rd Glastonbury, BA6 9SX, Saturday 6 April, 6am-9am, £6 (£3 child)
You'll have to get up early for this guided walk, which begins at 6am at Avalon Marshes (just outside Glastonbury). But if you make it, you stand a very good chance of hearing the eerie boom of one of the UK's most elusive birds, as the reserve's 40+ bitterns look for a mate. Booking essential. More info here.
SHOP OF THE WEEK
WESTCOMBE DAIRY SHOP, EVERCREECH
Lower Westcombe Farm, Evercreech, BA4 6ER; Open Monday to Friday 9am-5.30pm & Saturday 10.30am-3pm
They've been making cheddar at Westcombe Farm since 1890, and it's currently sold at some of the UK's finest foodie spots, including Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nicholls. But you can also visit their little dairy shop, a few miles from Bruton or Shepton. As well as the cheese (including the multi award-winning Westcombe Unpasteurised Cheddar, and their Somerset Ricotta), there's a range of brews on offer from the Wild Beer Company, which is also based at Westcombe. More info here.
REASON TO LEAVE SOMERSET OF THE WEEK
M SHED BEHIND THE SCENES TOURS
M Shed, Bristol, Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat 11.30am, Wed 2.30pm
The free M Shed museum in Bristol is always worth a visit for its history of Bristol life and exhibitions (the excellent Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 exhibition finishes its six month run on Sunday). But you might not know that you can take a guided tour of L Shed, the adjoining building which houses thousands of of items not currently on display - and you only have to pay what you think your tour was worth. More info / booking details here.
BOOKING OF THE WEEK
BADLY DRAWN BOY
Cheese & Grain, Frome, 12 July, £22.50
This year's Frome Festival (6-15 July) looks set to be another corker as the town is taken over by a whole host of events and activities. This show by woolly-hatted indie-folk troubadour Badly Drawn Boy - winner of the 2000 Mercury Music Prize - is definitely among the highlights, and seems likely to sell out in advance. Get tickets here.
SOMERSET FACT OF THE WEEK
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH WAS A BRIDGWATER BOY
Although better known for his links to the Lake District, William Wordsworth actually lived for a year in Somerset, at Alfoxton Park, an 18th Century country estate at Holdord, near Bridgwater. He lived there with his sister Dorothy, having met and befriended fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Somerset in 1795. Alfoxton Park recently sold at auction for £1.3 million.
That's your lot for issue three (which, of course, is the magic number). Remember, you can help us out by forwarding this email to friends who might want to sign up too. And if you have Somerset suggestions, then email us or drop us a note on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thanks for reading - and we'll see you next time!