Somerset like so many English counties has its fair share of villages and hamlets with fascinating or strange names. Few of our local village names conjure up the magical atmosphere of this part of Wessex so much as Westonzoyland. In itself its an unprepossessing sort of place, and yet it is ancient, its history going back into the mists of time – back to the Saxon hero-king, Alfred who, not far from here, burned his cakes and to the elusive Isle of Avalon and tales of derring-do and knights and chivalry.

Westonzoyland derives its name from its position as the western settlement on Sowy, the name given, probably before 1066, to the 'island' between the rivers Cary, since displaced by the King's Sedgemoor Drain, and the River Parrett. The parish includes the village, the hamlets of Bussex and Liney to the north and north-east, and settlements at Andersea, Hamland and Moorland, extending into Middlezoy, to the south-west beside the Parrett. The irregular shape of the parish is largely caused by allotments of moor made under the enclosure Act of 1795. Sowy 'island' is formed by Burtle Beds of sand and gravel. At its flatter, western end the moors to the north and south are mostly of peat with a narrow strip of mudstone immediately to the south of Westonzoyland village and alluvium beside the Parrett. Langmead and Weston Level have been declared an area of Special Scientific Interest because of grasses and other plants.

An outing on this sunny morning was well worthwhile as the insects that had hidden away in the recent cold snap were driving the birds into a frenzy of feeding, catching up on what had obviously been a lean week. Mind you it was still cold and the open landscape with its big blue sky meant that the wind added considerably to the chill factor. I saw Herons a-plenty fishing happily in the rhynes, and was doubly pleased to see several thrushes and blackbirds which seem to have declined in numbers around here – no shortage of starlings however who love it here and gather in great flocks as it comes up to roosting time. It’s amazing to think as one gazes on this very English rustic scene that between here and Chedzoy on low-lying ground, the Civil War battle of Sedgemoor was fought. It must have been hellish underfoot for the heavy-laden soldiers. I certainly wouldn’t want to wander off the well-trodden pathway as it is extremely wet and sodden underfoot here on The Island of Princes in Somerset – The Land of the Summer Sun.

Meanwhile here at Dunpreachin a pleasantly quiet day – spent patiently waiting for next Tuesday and the next appointment with a surgeon – this time an orthopædic bloke – who will hopefully remove the lump forming on my left shoulder as a result of the carcinoma. Apart from the wait for this surgery delaying the start of the all-important radio therapy, the shoulder (and side) remain somewhere between uncomfortable and painful, and I can’t say I like taking co-codamol on a regular basis (8 tabs a day). They do keep the pain under control but on a long-term regular basis it can become addictive, which is a concern. So the next lot of treatment for more than one reason can’t come quick enough, and I’m still setting my sights on getting back to work by the beginning of March. Meanwhile I am now the proud holder of a Blue Badge parking permit – ha ha!

Comments on this entry:

  1. Dear Graeme

    Lovely to hear from you and thank you so much for cheering up my mornings when I arrive to work. One of the first things I do is log-on to your blog and catch up. (Very disappointed yesterday to see the only entry was 12th Jan, which I had already read and inwardly digested!) I love reading about the countryside and can just picture everything you describe. As you may remember I spent a lot of my childhood in the country on farms, so its such a reminder. I’m thinking of you and please don’t stop writing.

    XX Irene

    — Irene Dougherty · Thursday 15 January, 2009 · #