Whenever anything beneficial is muted to the South East somebody from the North or Midlands will bleat that it should be in their region. It always puzzles me becuase many events go into the "great unknown" that is the North and Midlands but few go to the South West.
The South West is forgotten England. Oh people go on holiday there but it seems to be forgotten by politicians, taken for granted if you will.
We'll start with Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire boarders the midlands but is way too romantic for the more dour and sensible midlands. It contains some wonderful scenery (the Cottswold), lovely houses, pretty villages and wonderful churches. I rather like it. Alas it contains Bristol, Bristol has a cathedral, arguably the finest non monastic parish church in the country (well I'd argue it doesn't but....) and a lovely Lord Mayor's chapel. But I can't warm to Bristol, whereas some cathedral cities have beautiful cathedral closes Bristol does not.
Wilsthire is full of pre-historic monuments, forget Stonehenge here is Silbury Hill, the Avebury Stone circle and the West Kennet Long Barrow. It has few large towns, it contains Salisbury and its Cathedral. The Cathedral together with its close may be the most perfect space in England. Wiltshire refuses to allow tall buildings in Salisbury preserving the Spires impact and beauty.
Dorset too is wonderful, there are towns like Sherborne, the Jurassic Coast, the Purbeck hills and the walk to St Aldhelms Head. There are no motorways. It gets plenty of tourists but contains a charm that few English counties can match.
Somerset is part Exmoor, part Cheddar Gorge. It is a land of church towers. There are towns I dislike but its a place I could live. Oh and it has Wells cathedral.
We are now deep into the South West and arrive at Devon. Devon is incomparably beautiful. Dartmoor, Exmoor, pretty coastal sea towns. Of course it has Torquay and Brixham but you have to live with this. Its two principle towns Plymouth and Exeter are awful but I guess they emptied everyone there and the left the rest amazing. Exeter imparticular is a great disappoint, lovely cathedral and not much else!!
And lastly we come to Cornwall and I'll let you into a secret, it's not all its cracked up to be. What you gasp that's not possible, tourist come to marvel at Cornwall. It's a dump! No seriously it is, as you drive along the a30 you come to this conclusion, the towns are shabby the country bleak. BUT, and its a big BUT, the coast is gorgeous. And that's the point it contains loads of pretty seaside village lots of bays to die for.
I am perhaps, well definitely, playing to the gallery here, my friend Jan will be frothing at the mouth. Its just that Cornwall to me is slightly overrated. Cornwall is not really a dump, but you have to accept it is a county of contrasts. When it is beautiful it is amazing when its dire it is awful (Newquay anyone?). People forget the things that are wrong and focus on the positives. And that is what annoys me, we forgive some counties their blots easily and in others we highlight them.
But it has to be said the South West is a lovely region. And unfairly overlooked. The North Whinges about how everything is Londoncentric the South West just gets on with it.
So that is Quacky's England. If you never been I'd urge you to visit and if you are a native then discover something new. Northumberland is lovely and worth a visit in preference to the more visited Lakes. Hereford and Shropshire are both counties that really deserve to be better known. And may I suggest that you wander to the Essex/Suffolk border around Lavenham, Clare, the Bardfields, Finchingfield and the Stour Valley for a long weekend. (just stick to the North of the a120!!).
We live in a lovely country, nowhere in Western Europe has as many fine histoic buildings and churches for instance, I think it would be nice if we celebrated what is beautiful instead of focusing on the ugly for a change.