Dunster Castle and a night of Glamping

Something happened at the beginning of the week that shook me to the core and left a blanket of sadness hanging thickly over our community. I don’t want to go into too much detail, or to dwell but another Mummy, a friend of mine, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

The tears have flowed, the sadness is great and I decided we needed to do something to shake things up a bit as I could tell that the weight of the grief was being strongly felt by the children as well, even if they don’t fully understand, as there has been great sadness among friends and in school too.

So on Friday, I decided to book Saturday night away. We have almost finished converting our camper van Wilma. (If you’ve not heard of her already, she features heavily in my interactive story video below, although the real Wilma is not bright orange and sadly not quite so magical!)

If you’ve not seen it before, it’s aimed at young children, and my first attempt at making a vid so please be kind!! 😀

Our own Wilma, however, isn’t quite finished, and most importantly, doesn’t have a heater, which, although the weather was forecast to be nice, is pretty essential in Britain in early March! So I had a bit of a search and discovered this website where I was able to specify the region, the dates and the sort of thing I was looking for. I fancied glamping, and found this amazing wooden pod on a farm with sheep roaming about and a lake out front with ducks, geese and we even saw a kingfisher.

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We checked in, bought some fresh eggs in the little farm shop on site, (courtesy of the chickens outside our pod), and unpacked our stuff, then we headed to the nearest town for fish and chips on the beach. In all honesty, it was a little disappointing, there were so many chippies and we chose the one rated fairly highly and it was distinctly average! Very greasy and expensive too. I’m not normally a whinger but the accompanying service with a grunt made the whole experience a little pants!

After that, Mr PB wanted to watch the rugby, this had been planned for and our pod had a tv for this very purpose. The idea was that the kids would have a snooze and then we’d all walk along the riverbank to the pub for dinner. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans, the kids refused to nap, I got totally wound up, (as I quite fancied a nap myself!), we threatened cancelling dinner, the trip, all future ice cream ever, and then, when everyone was totally stressed out, realised we’d need to backtrack or go hungry. Or home, which was very much on the cards too!

Well it would have been rude not to! :D

Well it would have been rude not to! 😀

A quick phone call to the pub determined that they were not doing food that night. Into the van we got, on a mission to find a place to eat using trusty generic internet search engine. Which showed the next town to have three places to eat. Upon arrival, we discovered all three were closed, or actually closed down, it was the vibe of the whole area really, a bit run down and forgotten.

We kept going, so much was closed! Determined not to resort to fish and chips twice in one day, (they were at least plentiful!), the useful search engine led us to this gorgeous indian restaurant. However, being a) good and b) not shut down, meant they were full, they were so kind and took pity on us, offering to rustle up a takeaway for us, and it came so quickly. I was incredibly grateful and the food was so good, probably the best indian I’ve had in years, every cloud as they say!! We ate it back at the pod, after battling to keep for the kids awake on the drive back as both had suddenly decided they were exhausted…funny that! They were fast asleep by quarter past 8 and we watched a bit of tv and then joined them. I slept so well, I was really surprised!

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The next morning, we had our fresh eggs scrambled on bagels, really scrummy, then deliberated what to do for the day.

So good! A lot of our plans are based around food!

So good! A lot of our plans are based around food!

We were near to Cheddar and were toying with going there, but we’ve attempted it once and the kids are too young to get any value for money from our entrance really, I didn’t fancy carrying them up the 300 odd steps to get to the bits that are open out of season!nI am also a bit of a (total!) castle geek. I love them! I did my art history and architecture thesis on them at a-level I like them that much. I came across Dunster and boy am I glad I managed to persuade my hubby to drive almost an hour further away from home to visit, it’s amazing there! It’s a proper castle, huge and turrety and beautiful!

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They have really made a lot of effort to make it a fun day out.  The rooms are done up with furniture and lots of information and all the guides are really friendly and helpful and obviously very passionate about the history of the building.

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There is so much for children to do, a special family trail guide to the rooms to keep them interested, lots to do along the way, we loved laying up the cutlery for a banquet and had some fun napkin folding! There were games and a toy castle with knights laid out in one room and in warmer weather, there are lawn games for everyone to play. There is also a wonderful dressing up room and a creepy crypt that genuinely spooked the bejeezus out of me, could have done the flickering lights to be honest! 😀 The gardens are just divine, everything was just bursting into life and it was gorgeous, a short stroll through them, there is a river with a natural play zone for the kids to burn off some energy and a brilliant bridge which is perfect for Pooh sticks! (Googling this led me to the fascinating nugget of info that there are World Pooh Stick Championships taking place in June, well I never!)

After a very full morning, tiredness was kicking in, so we headed into the village itself for some lunch and were directed to the quirky Chapel House Tea room where we ate lovely food, admired the really unusual decor, and I drooled over the amazing looking cakes and crafts but decided against both due to imminent children into exhausted meltdown stress.

Such a gorgeous village.

Such a gorgeous village.

They then slept most of the way home! Win. I took my usual abundance of photos, I shall put a few below, I find it so hard to restain myself!

All in all, it has been a much needed night away, and I think it has helped us all as a family. I really hope you like photos of flowers by the way!! 😀

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60 Comments

  1. Firstly, I am so sorry for your loss. But what a lovely weekend away you had, giving your children culture and outdoors entertainment of the kind we all aspire to over plonking them in front of the TV. Pooh Sticks and afternoon tea the perfect cherry on the cake. And beautiful photos.

  2. Wow, looks a beautiful place to visit! x Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink

  3. Grief is hard, you did the right thing getting away from it as it can consume your every waking moment. I really fancy them glamping pods but as the other half spent silly money on a tentipi he is fighting tooth and nail against it, hate it when everything is closed in a resort really puts a dampener on the trip. I love your photos so fresh and clear x

  4. It looks like you have lots of fun! I used to go there when I was younger when I visited my nan, I have great memories of it there. I so want to go camping!

  5. Very sorry to hear about your friend. Sometimes blowing away the cobwebs can help a bit.

    The flowers are lovely – do you have an expensive camera? I love capturing flowers as they come out… but nothing seems out yet here!

  6. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend. How awful!
    It looks and sounds like a fantastic weekend away. Just what you needed.
    #bigpinklink

  7. What FUN! Looks like an excellent time was had and what gorgeous flowers! Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink I’ve never done one of these before x

  8. Sorry for your loss x. Looks like you had a great weekend, Dunster Castle looks brilliant, I always loved going to castle when I was little.
    #BigPinkLink

  9. Sorry for your sad news. It’s always a shock when something like that happens within the school community. You made me laugh…your recount of your night away made me think of myself. I used to organise the holidays, days out, etc and then be completely stressed out if things weren’t going according to plan instead of just going with the flow. I’m much better now…okay…slightly better, lol. Thanks for sharing…your pics are gorgeous! #bigpinklink

  10. I loved your little movie 🙂 BRILLIANT. and this place looks amazing.

  11. Oh lovely, I am so sorry to hear about your sad news. That is just so unbelievably sad, I’m thinking of you. I can’t blame you for wanting to pack up and head off for some time away. It sounds like you had a fab time and was just what the Dr ordered. It’s actually quite close to where I live too. Might have to add this to my things too visit/do. PS. Those scrambled eggs look amazing, as an egg connoisseur myself, I give them a huge 10/10. Hope you’re OK. #bigpinklink

  12. I’m so sorry to hear you had such sad news, but I’m glad you used it to spend some quality time with the people you love most. What a nice trip 🙂 #bigpinklink

  13. hiya hun I’m so sorry for your loss xx the mini break away looked perfect such a fab idea, looks like you all had such fun. the flowers are beautiful and I wouild love to stay in a pod like that. thanks for sharing xx #bigpinklink

  14. I’m sorry for your loss – it really puts things in perspective! Your weekend away sounds so lovely. The scrambled egg on bagel especially! I’m glad you found a place for dinner, I hate having to go around to find a table! Especially with hungry kids in tow. Thanks so much for hosting #bigpinklink x

  15. My condolences at this sad time. Big virtual hug! You were so right to get away. Looks like the weekend was just what you needed. Lovely flower shots too. Thanks for hosting x

  16. I am so sorry for your loss. Grieving is hard and sometimes a bit of an escape from reality for a bit is the best way to start being okay again. The castle looks great! It’s a real shame so much was closed locally though, seems to be the way of things these days. #bigpinklink

  17. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, thoughts with you all at this time. Your trip did look good though (minus the food search – that would have stressed me out) but a good distraction for everyone and much needed little getaway. Ps love the photos X #bigpinklink

  18. What a great way to deal with a difficult time, some times escaping reality can help you heal. It looks like you guys had a great time and created plenty of memories 🙂 Lovely pics, I want to try clamping now #bigpinklink

  19. So sorry to hear your sad news. I’m glad you got to have some good family time though – Dunster Castle looks great (I feel I’ve been there – probably dragged around by my parents as kids – I swear we visited every castle and stately home in the country!) You got some beautiful flower shots too – it definitely feels like spring has sprung! #bigpinklink

  20. So sorry again about your friend Lou. Your little pod looks fab! While ours are still little, we stick to the biggest accommodation places like center parcs have to offer, as travel cots and all the rest of it still takes up too much room! But pre children, me and my husband stayed in converted gypsy caravans, shepherds huts, glamping pods, loads of places!! Can’t wait to do stuff like that with the kids!! Apart from the food struggles, and close meltdown calls (I hate it when you think a nap is in sight, and the kids refuse to nap!!) it looks lovely!! Beautiful pictures!! And I can’t wait to see Wilma on her adventures! Thank you fabulous cohost!!
    #bigpinklink

  21. I’m so sorry for your loss and all the best for helping navigate your family though the grieving process

  22. My condolences on your friend.

    Sounds like all in all, it was a good little trip. The castle sounds great and I’m glad you found somewhere that did good food after your disappointing fish and chips.

    #bigpinklink

  23. Louise, I am so sorry to hear about your friend. Devastating. However, I am so happy to see your family get away from everything for a bit and enjoy each other and your beautiful surroundings…despite the rough first day. I envy your trip to Dunster Castle. Having just wrapped up Downton Abbey forever, my obsession with visiting England and Germany–especially castles–is reignited. The Tea House sounds like it was fun too…and much better than the previous day’s fish and chips. LOL! Oh, and don’t those fresh eggs look divine?! Thank you for sharing! #bigpinklink

  24. Im so sorry for your loss honey but I am so glad you had a beautiful break away and I hope it helped. Big hugs xx #bigpinklink

  25. Oh I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, I really am but may I say that I support your beautiful parenting skills of taking the family away and doing something positive. What a truly wonderful thing to have done instead of staying home and feeling utterly helpless? A really beautiful post with beautiful pictures and you are so brave to do a video – I am so camera shy that I have nothing other than huge admiration for you. Sending love to you and your family and community this week xx

  26. Very pretty flower photos! I have been to Dunster as a child and remember it being a great place – I must try to take my little ones there next time we go West.
    Sorry to hear about the passing of your friend.
    x Alice
    #bigpinklink

  27. Love the glamping idea, Living ‘up north’ and in the Lake District means I’ve got loads places right on my doorstep. Very Jealous of the cider shop, its all Ale and Cumberland Sausage in the Lake District.

  28. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Your night away glamping sounds great though, I love castles too and this is one sounds particularly impressive xx #bigpinklink

  29. So sorry to hear about your friend. Your break sounds like a great way to get away and spend time with those that matter x

  30. My thoughts are with you, sending virtual hugs X fabulous post, really makes me just want to get away for the weekend, such a lush location and I must say gorgeous flowers 🙂 thanks for sharing a lovely post X

  31. Really sorry to hear about your loss, I hope the trip away gave you a bit of time to chill out together (despite the little people not sticking to the plan – how rude!) My two keep asking about ‘proper camping’ (the horror) but this cute little cabin look like a good compromise to me!

  32. The pod looks like so much fun! Shame about the pants fish and chips and the area being run down, but in a way j quite like eating in on a self catering holiday. Dunster Castle is going on my list of future visits! Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink 🙂

  33. So sorry to hear about your friend. But glad you managed to have an enjoyable weekend away – I love a good castle too so if we’re ever around that way, I’ll definitely remember it – the pod looks ace too 🙂 Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink

  34. Looks like you had a great time. So sorry to hear about your loss. xxx #bigpinklink

  35. Incredibly sad about your friend. Pleased the weekend was enjoyable though. Good choice with Dunster. Althoug living close to Cheddar Gorge, I absolutely ADORE it 🙂 Althoug I also agree that carrying children up and down cave steps isn’t that relaxing! Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink ! x

  36. I’m so sorry to hear your sad news, lots of love to you all.

    You’re break away looked lovely, great photos too! Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink

  37. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend, life can be so incredibly cruel 🙁

    Sounds like glamping was just the right thing to do. I have always wanted to go, but not got round to it yet! Looks fabulous and even though you had to trawl around for food, you got there in the end!

    A good weekend away really is the best.

    Ps. I love that Offspring song!

  38. And one day I will remember to tag my comments with #bigpinklink ha ha!

  39. Thinking of you and your family at this sad time. A great idea to get away. So love going away in Spring such a lovely time of year #bigpinklink.

  40. Sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like your weekend was exactly what you needed to re-group and help you cope. It looks like a very pretty area and the photos of the flowers are amazingly colourful and clear! All I can think about now is how much I would love to eat an indian takeaway….unfortunately we haven’t found any near us that we could try, maybe I’ll have to try home made instead! #bigpinklink

  41. I’m so sorry for your loss, losing someone is never easy.. Glad to see you guys managed to get away for the weekend though! Looks like a fun place and a fun weekend! I’ve never been ‘clamping’ but it looks like a lot of fun 🙂
    #bigpinklink

  42. Sorry to hear your sad news. And that your mini break started out shakily! Sounds as though it turned out to be a lovely weekend away though, just what you needed, I’m sure. X
    #bigpinklink

  43. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend hun, so sorry. Your weekend sounded ace once you got the indian takeaway (love an indian) and visited Dunster Castle. I sometimes think that the best days are when you don’t make a plan, and stumble across something to do – almost having no expectations. I hope that you have a better week this week. Claire x #BigPinkLink

  44. I am very sorry to hear about your friend.
    Your weekend sounded like a much needed getaway. Oh and I love your little one’s Batman jumper! #bigpinklink xx

  45. So sorry for your loss. xx It does look like a good trip. I have always fancied glamping. My husband loves camping and, while I don’t mind it, I always think a few home comforts could improve it even further #bigpinklink

  46. I am desperate to go glamping, it looks like so much fun! I’m sorry your trip was prompted by sadness, but I hope the break helped you all. I’m fully behind you on the love of castles, I can’t wait until G cares enough to want to go explore some with me!xx #bigpinklink

  47. So very sorry to hear of the passing of your friend. Your get-away sounds like a lovely way to have some all important family time after such sad news.
    #bigpinklink

  48. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

    I’ve never been glamping. I’m not a camping person, but glamping would maybe be better for me! Dunster looks lovely. I like castles too. #bigpinklink

  49. I am so sorry lovely, loosing a friend is extremely painful and confusing and feels so un fair. I am glad you got away and did something so lovely, remember to keep taking care of yourself through this hard time xx #bigpinklink

  50. So sorry for the loss of your friend.

    Glamping sounds totally fun! I have never been glamping before. I adore Castles too and it’s great that they have activities for kids. My kids were actually quite terrified. Can’t wait to read about your adventures with Wilma. #bigpinklink

  51. Oh my word Hun that’s awful news at the beginning.
    I’m with you on the castles now that I live abroad. Things like that are just so British and I turn into a total tourist when I return to the UK for visits! I’ve never gone glamping and so love the idea of it. Glad to see to ‘my people’ treated you well with the takeaway food (sorry couldn’t resist that bit). #BigPinkLink

    • Looooool Prabbers! They were so sweet, and rushed it through so the kids weren’t waiting too long. Much better attitude then most of the ‘English’ places we’ve been to! There is something so awe inspiring about castles, so majestic & yes, so English, especially with the national trust tea room on site!

  52. Ugh miss English tea rooms too x

  53. Sorry to hear about your friend. I think some outside time can really help grieving, though although you decided to take some time away with your family, it’s absolutely okay to let yourself be sad, too.
    I love your video and the illustrations are ace.
    Thank you for bringing that website to my attention – I’ve spent far too long now dreaming about short breaks in various pockets of the UK, holed up in a little tipi or a small cottage. Awesome!

    Thanks for linking to #daysoutwithatoddler – see you next month!

  54. The one thing I miss about living in the city is all the stuff to do. There is not a lot of options for small children in this small town of mine. Your video turned out great and what a great idea! I haven’t quite ventured to the YouTube thing yet. Trying to organize what’s on my plate already. Thanks again for hostessing #bigpinklink.

  55. So sorry for your loss it sounds like you needed a little escape to take your mind off of the awful news. It sounds like a great break, especially the cider! Glad you had a lovely time hun x

  56. I’m sorry to hear of your loss but well done for finding a way to cope with your grief that allowed your family to have some time and space.
    I love Dunster! A great little village and castle. It is a place that is hard not to smile at when you arrive.
    I love your photos, especially the flowers! I too love photographing flowers.
    I hope that the happy memories help to comfort you over the difficult weeks ahead. #Daysoutwithtoddlers

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