As Fate Would Have It
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
The best laid plans...well...sometimes they go awry. I find this happens more often when traveling, and yet, in the past I would often meet these times with great frustration. I would think I had not foreseen something, planned well enough, or had the smarts to right the ship. As I have opened up my mind and heart to the flow of change, I can more often find the sweetness in rolling with the bends in the river. In fact, those bends have typically laid forth an even better result than my grand "plan" had. I'll have to remember this next time...
Our last few days in the southern part of England was a wonderful series of fateful turns. Well, I should back up a moment and start from the seed of this. Months ago, we took our first international house-sitting gig near Frome, England. In the early planning stages, we weren't really sure where many of these places were. We applied based on the appeal of the gig, and cast our net far and wide (as there's a fair bit of competition out there for house-sitting). The fairy godmother flicked her wand and led us to mere miles from our good friend Bex's childhood village. We had the pleasure of having tea with her grandmother, and reliving bits of her childhood memories as we passed through old stomping grounds.
As fate would have it, the old neighborhood pub we were going to for lunch had closed, rerouting us to the gorgeous Bath Arms, which had gluten-free fish and chips! How could we say no to such a British staple?
In fact, it bears mentioning that while I was concerned about the choices we would have in gluten-free dining, I am pleased to say there is a great awareness of Celiac needs here. Food in the store is labeled very well, and most pubs (not to mention restaurants) have legit gf options. It was perfect timing to land in a place where we don't have to stress out about food, and ease into our adventures.
Fate was there to give us another adventurous twist when we rented bicycles in Langport to bound around the countryside. From brief research, it appeared that you could go about 80 miles on car-free roads, trundling along the English countryside. When I asked the cycle stop owner about how to access this trail, mentioning casually that we were hoping to make it to Castle Cary, I could see the comic bubble above this head saying "Are you barking mad?!" Turns out, there is a lovely network of cycling trails in Somerset county, however, they are mainly narrow country roads (you know..the ones with cars). I had thought that cyclists we'd encountered on these roads were, in fact, barking mad. But, since we did already rent the bicycles, we grabbed a map and gave it a go! We must have gotten off the planned route about a half dozen times, each time leading something wonderful: a historical abbey, lunch at a pub overlooking the rolling green hills, fields of wildflowers, and to end it, a massive hill climb that was the highlight of the trip. Yes, we love that sort of thing.
Weather dictated much of what we did while in Somerset county. A bluebird day sent us to Cheddar Gorge, the deepest gorge in the U.K. After a harrowing, roundabout way to get there, we finally laid our feet on the ground and got our lungs pumping on a 5 mile look hike.
We finished this hot hike with a mulled cider. The chap who ran the place knew that hot tea could be refreshing on sunny day, and didn't judge our preference.
I saved the best twist of fate for last! Well, the best food story. As we transitioned from England, on our way up to Scotland, we had a few hours in London. We can't resist a chance to get delicious food in the big city, so instead of sight-seeing, we set our intention on Aprés, a completely gluten-free, slow food spot for lunch. Upon arriving, we were told they could not seat us, as they had reached their maximum capacity to feed everyone in the tiny establishment. Basically, they ran out of food. Crushed, we asked the host if there was anywhere within walking distance to get Celiac-friendly food. He recommended Niche, which was a 10 minute walk up the hill, and he graciously called them for us to book a table, lest we be denied twice! We were ever so grateful for his direction and kindness.
Best reroute EVER! Niche had a vast menu, everything completely gluten-free and gourmet. We had a leisurely 2 hour experience, with a bonus of having a spacious corner seat in which to spread out our bags (as we were loaded up on our way to the airport). The little things make a difference. I would go back, again, and again, and again....
The carrot-coriander soup with garlic-herb naan was the best soup I've ever had. Just saying, and that was just to start.
Thank you London!
And now, I will let Niche remind me of the wonders of changing plans, whenever I shall need inspiration.