My fave places: Somerset crime queen Clare Donoghue
Crime novelist Clare Donoghue was brought up in Somerset and spent the obligatory ten years in London before moving back to the West Country to do an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa. By the end of the year she had her first novel – Never Look Back – and her main characters DI Mike Lockyer and DS Jane Bennett, ready for submission. Since signing with Pan Macmillan, she hasn’t looked back…forgive the pun. Lockyer and Bennett’s third outing Trust No One was published in March 2016 and her fourth novel, set in the Quantocks, will be published in August 2017. Clare lets us in on her favourite places…
I remember going to Weston as a little girl but it is only as an adult that I really appreciated how great it is. I often meet my brother and his family there to either visit the aquarium, the Grand Pier and arcades or just stroll along the beach and have an ice cream. It only costs a pound to visit the pier and for £15 you can get a day pass so the children can go on every ride and enjoy every attraction as much as they like – and there’s a lot to enjoy, like scary rides, a fun house, laser quest and go-carting. If the weather’s good it’s a great family day out with good food and entertainment galore.
The Devonshire Arms, Long Sutton
Mother’s day, birthdays and just because…The Devonshire Arms is my family’s go-to place for a celebratory lunch. The former hunting lodge is set across from the village green and serves delicious gastro pub grub – well worth the trip to Long Sutton, which is not far from Somerton and Langport.
Museum of Somerset, Taunton
As a new mother, anywhere I can go and meet my friends and enjoy coffee and cake is a hit with me and the Museum of Somerset (the Taunton museum) has become a staple. The museum itself, located in the 12th century hall of Taunton Castle, is really well done and has enough to satisfy for repeated visits. The food and drink is just as good, whether it’s cake or lunch you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.
The Quantock Hills are a beautiful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Somerset. The winding lanes lead you out to the coast or up into the remote wilds of the moors. I enjoy them so much I am using them as the backdrop for my fourth crime novel (to be published in August 2017). Where better to write about murder and mayhem! They’re a great place to walk off a Sunday lunch or build up an appetite for one in one of the many local pubs, like The Rising Sun in West Bagborough. They’re an outdoorsy person’s dream-come-true.
Vivary Park, Taunton
Vivary Park is beautifully maintained, dating back to the 1800s and is well known for hosting the Taunton Flower Show. There’s a restored fountain commissioned as a memorial to Queen Victoria and a bandstand that’s used by local orchestras and choirs throughout the summer – not to mention Status Quo, Will Young and the amazing Jules Holland who graced the stage for Somerset Rocks. There’s also a children’s park, miniature steam train, high ropes and miniature golf course where I take my nieces and hide behind my hands as they climb the totem pole or hurl themselves off the highest platform! There’s something for everyone.