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England

Bridgwater
For long the dominant Home Nation of the British Isles with its capital London with some 10 million inhabitants and a further 43 million in the provinces. Whilst we encourage our visitors to include Bridgwater in Somerset as their starting point – an ideal location for touring the West of England – we also offer trips to the capital London, the Celtic peninsula of Cornwall and to the Viking Texas that is Yorkshire, gateway to the North Country.

Somerset

Glastonbury Tor
The small but friendly industrial market town of Bridgwater in the heart of the agricultural county of Somerset is an ideal base for exploring the West Country. The ancient Wessex of Alfred the Great and Thomas Hardy, including such famous sites as Glastonbury, where it’s suggested that Jesus once dropped in himself and where his uncle Joseph very probably left the Holy Grail. Today famed for its music festival and as a centre of alternative lifestyle but also acknowledged as the burial site of King Arthur and his queen Guinevere.
Wells
Close by is the Cathedral City of Wells, home of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, whose Palace is protected by bell ringing swans and the cheese capital of England, Cheddar, with its dramatic Gorge, caves and mountain goats.

The Quantock Hills to the West with views over the moors and seascapes below provided inspiration for poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth whilst further along the Bristol Channel coast is Lorna Doone's Exmoor easily accessed from the resort town of Minehead and the mediaeval village of Dunster with its romantic hilltop castle.

One of the jewels in Somerset's crown is the City of Bath, where mineral springs attracted Celts and Romans to settle there and 1,000 years after them a Georgian renaissance re-established it as a key city of the British Empire. Today it’s one of the best preserved cities architecturally in the country and located in the spectacular valley of the River Avon.

Nearby the City of Bristol, largest urban area in the West Country, with its massive shopping centre, historical docks and waterfront and vibrant nightlife.

London

After Bridgwater the most interesting part of England to visit is London. Served by five international airports the British capital isn’t far from anywhere in the world. Host city of the 2012 Olympic games it’s back on the map of World's most popular tourist destinations. Check out Danny Boyle's film for a personalised view of Britain.

London is served by an extensive transport system and whether you want to visit special places such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge or Camden Market or if you’d rather just take time to explore and sample the multicultural city that is modern London we can help you do either.

With London as a base the South East and Midlands of England are very accessible – travelling south you can hit the English Channel coast, visiting famous seaside places such as Brighton or ancient heritage sites like Stonehenge or Avebury.

Less than an hour from the capital are the University towns of Oxford and Cambridge and only slightly further you get to Shakespeare's Stratford on Avon.

North Country

Across the mighty river Trent we reach the North of England – characterised by its Viking history and forged in the Industrial Revolution into the powerhouse of the Empire. Amidst the textile mills, coalfields and industrial cities such as Leeds and Manchester is an ancient landscape of hills, dales, lakes and rivers bounded by the coastline of the great North Sea to the east and the Irish Sea to the west.

Cathedral in York

The Roman/Viking City of York has been the capital of the North ever since and still maintains its medieval walls intact along with its majestic Minster.

The Mersey seaport of Liverpool, home of the Beatles, continues to fascinate tourists whilst the Lake District attracts walkers and lovers of the countryside with its dominant crags and grassy fells. To the far north the Roman barrier known as Hadrian's Wall, built to keep out the Scots, has whole sections intact and set amongst hill tops with great vantage points provides an exhilarating location to sample the north country at its best.


Akropolis Winter Sojourn

For the third time this year we've hosted the ladies of the Akropolis family centres in Uherske Hradiste and Kromeriz. Dagmar, Natalie, Marie and Ivana. Linking up for a full weeks job shadowing at Bridgwater College and related programme they stayed with host families and drove around in the fat car of the fat councillor.

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Czech students on an English Course at Bridgwater College

http://bridgwaterinternationalblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/czech-students-on-english-course-at.html

A new venture of ours is a partnership project with Bridgwater College whereby we arrange transport, accommodation, meals and touristic programme whilst the College provides teachers, classrooms and lessons for the week. Our first experiment was with the Moskevska Zakladni Skola in Kladno, Czech Republic. The group stayed at Model Farm.

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Czech, Italian and even Canadian Visit for Bridgwater Carnival

So for Carnival time this year we had a visit from the Uherske Hradiste Mayor and council plus a couple of Czech Police officers, a Czech teacher from the UH Gymnasium , a couple of itinerant Canadians and Luigi from Italy.

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Along the South Coast with Zdena (and a bunch of Czechs from Kladno)

In August we had a visit from Zdena Biggsova and group of teachers from the Czech town of Kladno, some retired, some still teaching. This time Zdena decided she wanted to have a look at the South of England so we went from West Lulworth in the West to East Eastbourne in the East. And of course to London.

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Kordova of the West

A regular feature to our shores is Eva Kordova from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic. This summer Eva brought a group of Czechs on a mini tour of the South West.

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Akropolis Summer Visit

In June 2015 4 ladies from the Akropolis Family Centre and offshoots around the Uherske Hradiste region dropped into Bridgwater for another visit as part of their ongoing Erasmus programme linking up with Bridgwater College.

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Bridgwater Twinning Conference 2015

In 2015 Bridgwater held it's first Town Council sponsored Twinning Confernece at the Bridgwater Arts Centre. All 6 twinning groups in the town took part and guests came from Czech Republic, France, Italy, Hungary and Malta. In all 14 x Twinning delegates took part in the Conference.

  1. The Maltese delegation ;- Cllr Dominic Spencer + Claudette Spencer
  2. The Italian delegation - Maria Capobianca, Damiano Pellegrini, Luca Ranucci, Mario Russo (Marilunari folk band )+ Carla Contini (Priverno school teacher)
  3. The Hungarian delegation Beata Kovacs (teacher) and Karina Kraszni (student)
  4. The Czech delegate Antonin Machala (Altech sro)
  5. The French delegation Mireille Benedetti : Deputy Mayor, Marie-Pierre Leonardelli: Chair of La Ciotat Twinning Committee, Magalie Ambrosi: secretary for Twinning, European and International Department Nathalie McAndrew: Twinning Committee elected member

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Czechs and Italians visit Bridgwater College and Family centres

In January and February 2015 we organised a small group of Czech family centre workers from the Akropolis Centre in Uherske Hradiste and another group of Italians from our soon to be twinned town of Priverno. A progamme organised with the help of the Bridgwater College and other institutions involved in training for social care made this possible.
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If it's June it must be another cultural-awareness-raising-English-language-practising-on-tour-residential

In 1992 Bridgwater twinned with Uherske Hradiste…but it was a close run thing as at the same town the South Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice also made a similar request. That’s how popular we were. We had of course already committed to UH so on June 18th that year we became the first British Czech post velvet revolution twinning. But that didn’t stop the boys and girls from Budvar keeping up their Bridgy link. Every year since then they’ve sent over their students on tour programmes which we’ve called ‘Practice your English in England’. The main conspirator in all this is English teacher and anglophile Eva Kordova and this year naturally they came again.

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Clarinets, Klezmer, Cider and Cheese as Czechs and Italians Choose Continental Co-operation

It was a funny time to visit Britain. Everywhere you looked a party calling itself the ‘UK Independence Party’ had put up posters vilifying foreigners for ‘coming over here’, claiming Rumanians were largely criminals and suggesting the ferries, flights and foot passages were full of foreign benefit scroungers. You’d be forgiven for thinking foreigners might feel a little unwelcome, that ‘little Englander’ was a badge of honour and that Europe had some ancient Britanosaurus around it’s neck.

Still, come they did. That’s the Mayor and Chairman of the pleasant hilltop town of Priverno in Italy, not far from where Brits,Poles, Americans, Canadians and a host of others had joined forces with Italian Partisans to overthrow Fascism back in the 1940’s. Thirty minutes drive from Priverno is the allied landing ground of Anzio and another thirty the Monastery of Monte Cassino. Both bloody moments of a war that destroyed Europe and from out of which the European Union came to ensure it never happened again.

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EASTOVER 'AKROPOLIS' PROJECT

http://bridgwaterinternationalblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/eastover-akropolis-project-report.html

Our second major EU funded project of the year saw 13 Family Centre and related workers from our Czech twin town Uherske Hradiste and it's environs spend 2 weeks in Bridgwater to study social inclusion in the Eastover ward. Well, some of them spent a bit of that time in Worcester studying the Snoezelen project, but they were all here for carnival.

This is the 4th project fronted by Akropolis Director Dagmar Mega, and the aim this time was to do a thorough survey of Eastover, match 'needs' to 'resources' and meet the people from all walks of life who made up that Community. To make sure something tangible came out of this we roped in Cambridge Graduate Simon Hann and are expecting the 'Hann Report' by the end of the month.

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HAT-TRICK HERO TURNS THE TABLES ON TOP CZECH OPPOSITION AS FOOTBALL COMES HOME TO BRIDGWATER

It was like a scene from a Biblical epic. Or at least one of the better performances by the great Leeds United squad of the 1960's. After 5 years of defeat after defeat at the hands of Czech Factory team Altech there were suddenly 'No more years of hurt' as Bridgwater International refound their form and smashed their twin town opponents into the hallowed (and slightly undulating) turf of Cranleigh Gardens. "Without a shadow of a doubt the performance was simply down to the genius of one man, centre forward Brian Smedley" said Centre forward Brian Smedley, after the game.

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A Little Bit of Sun Makes All the Difference....

Czechs don't expect Britain to be even a little bit sunny, never mind persistently near tropical for an entire fortnight. So it's fair to say that for the visit by Eva Kordova and her Ceske Budejovice tourists the fact that July was busting out all over was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

To say the most, it was a bloody scorcher.

Every minute of every day was glorious sunshine. Even the nights. And so England, we can safely say, actually looks nothing short of resplendent in it's summer shirt, pants, open toed sandals and sunblock.

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SINGALONGALABYRINT

Labyrint 2013

It only seems like 8 years since the Czech choir Labyrint were here last and in fact it was. In them days most of them slept on the farmyard floors of Jess & Malcolm Healey's Glendale Dairy farm in Wedmore. Suddenly it was 2013 and they were there again. Funny how nostalgia hits you.....

Labyrint are from Prague and are a choir. That much we've established. The leader, conductor, dirigent and choreographer is Lenka Charvatova. They came to Somerset twice before and mainly linked up with the Voice of the People choir who occasionally they also linked up with on their European tours - noticeably Krakow and, well, Prague.

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RUSSIAN CHILDRENS FOLK ORCHESTRA LEAVES A LASTING IMPRESSION

We've never had Russians before. Well, we have, but they thought they were the Beatles. This time we had a coach full of the genuine article who had, genuinely, driven all the way from the city of Yaroslavl to visit us here in Bridgwater. That's 2,146 miles. In a bus.

Leaving Monday they slept through Poland, dreamed through Germany and woke up on a ferry crossing the English Channel early Thursday morning. None of them had visited England before. Least of all the drivers , who made a point of testing the ongoing traffic at their earliest opportunity.

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BRIDGWATER - UHERSKE HRADISTE & THE EU SEVEN PARTNERS PROJECT

European Union money fluttered gently into the Bridgwater economy last week as the town became the focus of the latest leg of the EU 7 Partners project. Since 1989 the Czechs have been moving away from the Communist system and embracing Western style capitalist democracy, the European Union, NATO and attempting to adapt their local government administration to meet the needs and demands of these goals. So they tapped into their twin town network - of which they have 6 - and of which Bridgwater is the first - having been the first British town to twin with a Czech town after the Velvet Revolution, to see what they could learn. IF they could learn anything in fact....or if what they were doing was good practice enough.

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Coastal Mist, City Heat and Jamaican Reggae: Ceske Budejovice students introduction to England in 2013

For a long time now, Eva Kordova has brought students from Ceske Budejovice to Bridgwater, offering as it does that ideal bridgehead into an England you could only dream about in the books of Enid Blyton, the films of Malcolm Muggeridge and the mind of Nigel Farage. But is that fair? No of course it isn't. But Anglophile Eva keeps on coming and we keep on trying to show her the real England. So here comes 2013's version.

Flights from Prague to Bristol are late night. So despite a strong tailwind, the group still didn't get into Street Youth Hostel until midnight. And went straight to sleep. In everyones dreams.... So the programme proper started first thing next day.

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Snoezelen, Snowdon and Sedgemoor

Not the three least well known of the seven dwarfs, but a mildly convoluted way of linking together the themes of our final project of 2012.

For the third year running now, our partners from the Akropolis Family Centre in Uherske Hradiste have sent us a small group of women eager to learn about their counterparts over here in the UK, and this year we split the project with some lovely people in Worcester.

Why Worcester? As George III said. Oh no, that was 'Bugger Bognor'. But in this case it was because in Worcester they have a major Snoezelen project , and that's something the Czechs wanted to learn about. So 6 of the group went up there.

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HUNGARIANS VISIT BRIDGWATER FAIR

Sarvar is the Hungarian twin town of Uherske Hradiste which is the Czech twin town of Bridgwater. Which has an annual Fair second only in bigness to the very very big Nottingham Goose Fair. But only geese are allowed to go to that one. So the Hungarians came to Bridgwater.

September is quite a busy time for schools in the UK - seeing as they're just starting back, and also in Hungary, so the Sebastian Tinodi school gave their intrepid adventurers just 4 days to explore the UK (in it's approximate entirety), civilise Bridgwater and be back in time for supper.

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CZECH CIVIL ENGINEERS SURVEY LONDON

If the Ceske Budejovice School for Civil Engineers had asked us to organise a programme in Somerset we could have shown them the collapsed wall at West Quay in Bridgwater and explained exactly why it has still not been rebuilt after almost a year and they could have witnessed four different agencies fighting desperately to deny their own responsibility for the collapse in the first place. But they didn't. They wanted to see London.

But we'll rise to any challenge and several weeks of emailing people who might know people who might know civil engineers eventually bore fruit and a full and absorbing programme was built, Brunel like, piece by piece, from one end of the capital to the other, suspended over a massive gap, filled by pie and mash shops.

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KLADNO TEACHERS 'ROUND WESSEX BY MINIBUS' ADVENTURE

This has not been the best summer here in the UK. However, for climate change enthusiasts it's been perfect, clearly demonstrating that even world famous weatherman Michael Fish would be absolutely no use at all in knowing which way the wind was likely to blow in the next five hours. So, for a group of intrepid teachers, students, concrete inspectors, radiologists and lawyers including at least two children, from the Bohemian town of Kladno, what better time to take a trip in a minibus around the South West of England!

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CESKE BUDEJOVICE SCHOOLS 20TH ANNIVERSARY VISIT TO BRIDGWATER

Bridgwater Czech Slovak Friendship Society was formed in 1991 and in June 1992 the formal twinning with Uherske Hradiste took place. 1992 also saw the foundation of Antonin Machala's 'Altech' company which has been the backbone of our links with UH now for 20 years. However, it was a close run thing that we didn't twin with the South Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice - home of Budweiser beer and (slightly) nearer to Prague. On the occasion of the annual visit by Eva Kordova and her 'Buddies' we recall those early days.

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HUNGARIAN LINK LAUNCHED WITH BRIDGWATER VISIT

Less than a year ago a Bridgwater delegation to Uherske Hradiste, our Czech twin town, met delegates from their twin town in Hungary. Representatives from the town of Sarvar were keen to make links and this seemed to fit in well with our avowed progressive twinning strategy (which we've called 'Triangulation') viz 'your twin town is our twin town'. Within five months our first trip to Hungary was up and running thanks to the support of Mr Bethell the Sociology teacher at Richard Huish College.

In April we welcomed to Bridgwater a small delegation from Sarvar to look at exactly what we could do for the benefit of both our communities. The group consisted of Zsolt Nemeth - a Councillor and businessman, Beata Kovacs - English Teacher from the Tinódi Sebestyén Gimnázium, Esther - one of Sarvars brightest students and Orsolya, a lawyer from Budapest.

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SLOVENIANS SPRING BREAK IN ENGLAND - TURNED OUT NICE AGAIN!!

A couple of years back when our first Slovenian group visited us they got caught up in the Icelandic volcanic eruption and had to be rescued by our fleet of emergency drivers, a mad dash through the Channel ports and a pick up on the French coast for a two day drive back to their Balkan bolt hole. We weren't sure Slovenians would ever come to see us again... However, they did.

And a good choice of season it was too! Normally in March in England we're sweeping up wind toppled tree trunks, laying gentlemanly cloaks over puddles of rain or closing down entire communities and declaring National emergencies lest a snowflake lands on the nose of a civic dignatory. This time, however, it was like mid summer. Excluding the murders. Well, most of them.

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PRAGUE STUDENTS IN TOWN FOR THE FAIR

The Arabska Gymnasium in Prague 6 has been an annual visitor to Bridgwater since the link first started back in 1996 when Dr Jan Soucek met Mr Andrew Pole in the Bridgwater Embassy in Prague (the 'U Capa' bar near IP Pavlova). Last year was the Doctors final visit as he has now retired, however, the link goes on and this year Mrs Pavla Pracnova turned up with a group of sixteen students eager to see what all the fuss was about.

Picking the right time to come - not only was it Bridgwater fair, but the English summer finally decided to arrive, the group also included on their itnerary a visit to the College where Media lecturer Mino De Francesca showed them several films made by the students, the YMCA where Jason let them have a go at archery and even a game of skittles was thrown into the cultural melting pot.

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MORAVIAN FAMILY CENTRE WORKERS IN BRIDGWATER

A successful link between communities in our two twin towns has been given a boost for the second year running with money from the European Social Fund. Last year Dagmar Mega, from the Akropolis family centre in Uherske Hradiste arranged funding for Family centre workers in UH to come across to seehow things were done in Bridgwater. As a result of that first visit links were made with the Hamp Community Association and a second trip, funded by the European Social fund, was organised to further those links.

In September 2011 Dagmar brought across a further ten Family Centre and Youth Club workers to Bridgwater and we organised a series of visits to similar family centres in our district.

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CESKE BUDEJOVICE STUDENTS TOUR WESSEX

It's been an annual tour since the mid 90's. Eva Kordova from the Czech-English high School in the South Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice brings over a group of students, they spend a few days in Bridgwater and then take a trip around the West country.

This year the group spent their first three nights at Huntstile Organic Farm in the foothills of the Quantocks whilst visiting Glastonbury, Wells & Cheddar and having a social night at the Bridgwater Arts Centre. During this time they also did some orienteering on the Quantocks, had a Coleridge themed tour of Watchet with Ben Manning and had a look at Dunster on their way through Exmoor to Dartmoor.

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KLADNO TEACHERS IN LONDON

A group of 28 teachers from the Kladno area of the Czech Republic spent Easter in London with us, succesfully managed to avoid the Royal Wedding and also took in a tour of Cambridge.

Flying to Stanstead, the group, led by Zdena Biggsova, a long term supporter of the Bridgwater Czech link, spent their first night in Cambridge. The following day clever student Simon Hann gave them a clever tour around the citadel of cleverness including a bunch of clever punts on the river.

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MORAVIAN FAMILY CENTRE WORKERS IN SOMERSET

As a result of a succesful bid to the EU Leonardo fund, a group of family centre workers from the Uherske Hradiste region of the Czech Republic have just been able to complete a ten day study visit to the Bridgwater area.

The nine strong group of women came from three towns - Uherske Hradiste, Kromeriz and Valasske Mezirici.

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CESKE BUDSTERS TOUR WESSEX

Leading her 15th annual trip to Bridgwater, Ceske Budejovice teacher Eva Kordova, had terrific weather for the students who travelled with her from the Cesko Anglicky Gymnazium. The tour took them the length and breadth of the ancient kingdom of Wessex and naturally centred on the historic Somerset town of Bridgwater.

Flying from Prague to Bristol airport the group of 31 were met by two minibusses and a car and driven up the Fosse Way, across the Cotswolds to Stow on the Wold where they stayed the first night. The next morning they popped in to nearby Stratford on Avon then on to Blenheim palace and Oxford and spending their nexy night on the Ridgeway - the closest thing the Ancient Britons had to a motorway.

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PRAGUE STUDENTS IN BRIDGWATER WITH THE 'GOOD DOCTOR'

Dr Jan Soucek, from Pragues 'Arabska Gymnazium', has been bringing students to Bridgwater for 17 years and so with retirement iminent, this trip could well be his last.

The students had an action packed week which saw them explore Somerset and tour the West Country from their Home-Hosted base in Bridgwater.

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MORAVIANS TROPICAL TOUR OF WESSEX

Uherske Hradiste teacher Draha Cizkova had told her students to prepare for rain, wind and cold weather for the Korycany schools first visit to Bridgwater - unfortunately their trip coincided with the hottest May in the UK in decades.

The Moravians flew into Bristol and spent two nights in Somerset - at Cheddar and Minehead youth hostels, visiting Glastonbury, Wells and Dunster on their tour, however the highlight was Bridgwater where they met the deputy Mayor Pat Parker and the College where Kevin Smokcums catering students treated them to a home made full English breakfast.

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SLOVENIAN VISITORS CAUGHT UP IN VOLCANIC FALLOUT

Slovenian visitors who have just spent a week in Somerset hardly expected their first ever trip to our County to end with a rescue mission and a thirty hours journey home by land and sea - but thats what happened.

The students, from the high school in the Adriatic town of Koper, came to Bridgwater as guests of Bridgwater International. During their stay they were received by the Mayor Ken Richards, held a Slovenian Night at the Bridgwater Labour club with food,drink and music from their country and linked up with the Richard Huish school in Taunton who ahd recently visited them intheir own country. They also toured around the county to see all the famous sites including Glastonbury Abbey, Wells cathedral and Cheddar Gorge. Other highlights of their trip included a day orienteering on the Quantocks and a day trip to the Dorset coast.

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