What can you do when you have a young child and a dog and you’re driving to Cornwall? You can spend a night half way on both outbound and return trip to make it easier on everyone (not least the husband, the only one driving in the family).
When it came to deciding where to stop, I used Google maps, pointed at about half way and started using booking.com to search for hotels that could suit us (family and dog friendly). As I was looking primarily at country inns (easy parking anyone?) I figured Bruton was in the right location and it was a place I had already planned on visiting years ago when we spent New Years eve in Somerset. Decision was made (by myself, but I wasn’t arguing).
I couldn’t find anything hotel-wise that didn’t cost an arm and a leg (such as the absolutely stunning The Newt) so opted for Airbnb and found a cute looking cottage which was available at a very reasonable price.
The Apple Store is managed by Jocelyn, a friendly lady who lives right next door. Her directions were spot on and we found a space for our huge car about one minute walk (and it’s free parking). The cottage is an old dwelling, indeed formerly an apple store, spacious and comfortable, with an upstairs mezzanine bedroom with 3 large windows that make the room very bright. Lots of fluffly towels and two comfy beds. Downstairs there’s a sofa bed, a sofa, dining table and then a tiny kitchen (with all the necessary for a cup of tea or coffee and breakfast too). Jocelyn had left us some freshly baked tea cakes that went down very well after the long journey.
As soon as we arrived, I left the boys in the cottage and took Amber for a walk, but really I took myself too. The weather was gorgeous and sunset is the best time for the golder hour shadows. I walked all around the village, taking in the church, the gardens, the river and finding the stepping stones. I then spotted the foodie places and managed to book a table for dinner.
Bruton is a small village with some incredible food, easiest way to put it. At the Chapel was already on my radar; they no longer open in the evening and they are not dogfriendly (the restaurant nor the rooms) so it would not have been an option for us.
However the following morning, when we went for a walk with the little one, we risked leaving her at the ‘dog parking’ right at the entrance: there are hooks and water bowls and a jar of treats so they are somehow dogfriendly and I figured she would not be kidnapped like she would be in London!
Oli and I went inside and had a look at the beautiful, bright, elegant dining room (they serve cooked breakfast) then went into the bakery and chose some pastries to take away with us (loads of donuts, classics and many Easter treats as well as bread was for sale). I picked up a coffee and we left returning to the cottage.
Osip is a fine dining farm to table restaurant. How I wish we could have had dinner there! But they only offer tasting menu and with a 5yo and a fussy husband, an expensive tasting menu is less than ideal.
However – thank you Google Maps! – next door is The Old Pharmacy of which I had never heard of but, thanks to the maps, I had already located and attempted to book via Instagram to no avail. Thankfully, once I popped in on my sunset walk, they could fit us for an early dinner and so we went. I am so glad we did!
The place has a deli and coffee shop, which once the evening arrives, turns into an informal dining space which also champions local ingredients with a French and Mediterraneal influence. In fact, when I did pop in, they were making choux. Good sign!
The menu isn’t huge but on sunday they do roasts too, with a bit of a refined difference. The food is sophisticated and wow, I loved the flavours. I had a starter of preserved vegetables that was just divine; the bread and butter was moorish and so fresh.
The roast chicken was delicate and very flavoursome and the 3 of us shared two portions (which had purple sprouting and roasties). Finally, we had a portion of the choux with dark chocolate sauce.
By the time we left the place was packed; another sign that this is a destination was the fact that Sam Lomas, finalist of this year Great British Menu, was sitting right next to me. I of course had to say hello and compliment him on his achievement. He was very friendly and nice and I wish I could visit his restaurant in Devon one day!
Hayne Motor Museum
The next day, after a restful night, we left Bruton and visited The Haynes Motor Museum, which is about 20m drive on the way to Cornwall. Another reason to pick Bruton had been this, as both boys are fans of cars (and another Google Maps find!).
The museum is huge and has a great collection of modern and vintage cars, motorbikes and it’s family friendly; our 5yo spent the entire visit in one of those tiny foot propelled cars (with me constantly worried he would hit one of the very rare and very expensive display cars!). Definitely worth a visit.
And with this, we were off to the coast.