Shepton Mallet really is the place to be at the moment. We’ve had Collett Fest, the bands night, kid’s day, the brilliant Charles Chipperfield Circus and now the fun fair is on up at the showground. You can, as always, grab money off vouchers from the Tourist Information Centre. While you are there, why not ask for a copy of the “Shepton Mallet Fairy Trail”. It’s a magical map, with beautiful drawings , showing where all 18 secret fairy doors are hidden, around the town. I’m home educating my youngest son at the moment, and it’s been the perfect project.
The trail, leading all round the town centre, market place, Collett Park, passing by the prison and down by Leg square - concludes near the fabulous Fairy Godmother Shop, where you can also ask for hints and clues if you get lost. We took a leisurely 3 days to complete the trail, enjoying the sunshine and hidden places in Shepton, which I had never known about after almost 5 years as a resident! The fairy’s all have names and backstories linking to interesting historical or geographical facts about our local area. The activity ties in well with the new children’s #sheptonrocks phase ( type the hashtag into facebook) where kids paint rocks and hide them round town. Some fairy doors have rocks placed near them, and some rocks feature fairies.
Oh it’s all going on in Shepton ! In other news, I’m on a mission to heal myself physically and mentally. I’ve invested in a block of ten sessions with Ben at Mendip Chiropractic. After some serious trauma and two pregnancies, my troublesome lower back was proving tricky to fix, now on my fifth session I’m really starting to get results. My mental health issues have been well documented. And this pesky anxiety disorder has been a thorn in my side for too long.
Changing my relationship with alcohol has made a huge difference, so much that I was even brave enough to attend a stand-up comedy course last weekend. It was held at Komedia Comedy Club in Bath. Jill Edwards, who’s graduates include Shappi Khorsandi, Romesh Ranganathan and Jimmy Carr, took no prisoners. She has over 25 years experience in the industry, and she knows her stuff. After writing, rewriting, rehearsing and re-rehearsing our material, all us newbies got the chance to perform our short stand-up set , on stage, to a live audience. My heart was racing, but I had nothing to take the edge off- not even a glass of wine or beta blocker. I got up there, and though it wasn’t perfect, I did it! I got loads of laughs, big cheers and great feedback. I have a long way to go...but I believe I can do it. Open mic nights, comedy clubs, Wells comedy festival and one day the Edinburgh Fringe. That’s the dream. Well, Live At The Apollo, and a guest spot on QI are the ultimate goal. But I shan’t run before I can walk.
We’ve just got back from a lovely caravan holiday, near Weymouth. It’s the first time we have stayed at ‘Seaview’ Haven park, and it was really nice. Just a 20 minute walk , through glorious countryside- to a dog friendly stony beach called Bowleaze Cove, and a short drive into Weymouth itself. Bowleaze Cove was perfect for us, as it was less crowded than the main esplanade and sandy beach,but still had a seaside shop, cafe, restaurant, bar and even a mini theme park / funfair called ‘Fantasy Island’.
For just £9.99 kids can buy a wrist band allowing them on most of the rides from tea cups to bumper cars- for up to 3 hours! Our two dogs enjoyed meeting other furry friends, throwing seaweed up in the air and splashing in the waves. We all had the traditional fish n chip suppers and the boys enjoyed their first banana split!
One day, we all drove up the road to Monkey World ape rescue centre. That was a fantastic family day out. There are about five different adventure playgrounds for kids including wheelchair friendly play equipment, and sensory exhibits for disabled visitors.Also hundreds of apes and gorillas - who despite being rescue animals, are mainly happy to entertain the crowds.
Back at our holiday park, there was live entertainment every night. I decided to finally try ‘mindful drinking’ as promoted by alcohol awareness and sober support group ‘Club Soda’ ( www.joinclubsoda.co.uk ) My liver function is now normal, and I’d been feeling really ostracised by both my ‘regular binge drinking’ friends and amazingly by the ‘do good twelve step’ brigade. I don’t have a problem with either, and yet both had a problem with me! Apparently I was too sober for my old ‘party’ crowd, and ‘not sober enough’ for the total abstinence gang. I totally quite booze last August.
The most I have had is 0.5% ‘low alcohol’ wine (which is classified as Alcohol free in the UK) Yet people attacked me for ‘cheating’.’ It really annoyed me as there is more alcohol in a glass of orange juice than in a non-alcoholic wine. By law, the drink manufacturers must label products containing less than 0.5 percent alcohol. Many times, the alcohol content is actually less. An average person would need to consume at least forty non-alcoholic glasses of wine in an hour to feel tipsy!
My aim is to find a happy medium, a balance, and learn to drink responsibly , occasionally. A glass of bubbly at a wedding, or a pint of cider at a gig. I love not having hangovers, and I still hate the way binge drinking is normalised , even encouraged. Going 100% sober is the best way to kick most unhealthy habits, and having a support network also vital. However, everyone is different, and many people are choosing not to drink for a wide variety of reasons - so let’s support each other rather than judge. Cheers to that!
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)