Every time David and I go to Shapwick we find ourselves asking the same question ‘Why don’t we come more often?’
We were invited to a meeting about the Avalon Marshes Landscape Project and had decided to go early in the hope that the starlings were still roosting in the area. The idea was to find the starlings, eat in local pub and get to the meeting at 8pm.
It started well. We parked at the visitor centre to check where the starlings had roosted the previous night. We followed the canal on the Natural England reserve to the viewing point and arrived just in time to see countless starlings streaming across the horizon and dropping into their roost in the reeds. No aerial ballet this time, but impressive nonetheless.t
As the flocks descended a large, striking, bird flapped lazily into view. Our attention was temporarily diverted from the starlings as we realised it was a hen harrier, only the second I have seen. It would have been worth making the journey for that alone.
As the light faded we made our way back to the car and set off to find a pub. This is where things started to go awry. The first establishment we visited looked promising, but was almost empty. We walked in and realised why. It would be an exaggeration to say you needed a second mortgage to eat there, but we weren't about to pay £10.95 for the cheapest thing on the menu.
Undeterred we set off to a pub we had often driven past in a little village nearby. This time it was like turning back the clock 30 years. We entered a small sparsely furnished public bar with two customers hunkered down over a table with pints. David and I looked at each other, and then at the barman, who was regarding us quizzically. He told us that, apart from the one we had already visited, none of the pubs in the area sold food. We were advised to go to Glastonbury for fish and chips. We were running short of time so, resigning ourselves to the prospect of sitting in the car eating soggy chips from greasy paper, we carried on.
We had never heard of Knights Fish and Chip Shop. Behind the take away was a restaurant with marble tables, a wood burner and a stone spiral staircase leading up to the loos. Gratefully we sat down and ordered. It was then we recognised Michael Eavis, of festival fame, sitting at the table across the aisle from us. After that it came as no surprise that the food, when it arrived a few minutes later, was exceptionally good.
We got to our meeting with two minutes to spare.
I have a feeling that the Avalon Marshes are going to be playing a major part in our lives from now on, and that this won’t be the only time we go to Glastonbury for fish and chips.