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Review 1408: Helpful Holidays, The Cider House


Review by Pauline from NM who is a SlowTrav Contributor

2bed/2bath cottage on a farm in Somerset, near Taunton, West Country

The Cider House, Belmont Farm, Hatch Beauchamp, Somerset, photo by Pauline Kenny, May 2005


May 2005, 1 week


This cottage is perfect. I highly recommend staying here. Book early, because it is fully booked from March to October (there is a long term tenant in the winter).

This is a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom cottage on a 200 acre farm, on the edge of the village Hatch Beauchamp (pronounced Hatch Beechum) in southern Somerset. The cottage is attached to the main house which has one apartment where the owner John lives and another apartment where a long term tenant lives. There are barns, but they are not used for animals – the farm grows a few crops and has apple trees. You do not get the noise and smells that you might get on a working farm; this is more like being on a country estate.

You have your own entrance and a private garden area with table and chairs. You can also use the owner’s garden area. We used both places to have our morning coffee.

The apartment has a nice entrance area with a place to hang coats and leave shoes. On this level is the second bedroom (twin beds) and the bathroom with shower. The washer/dryer combination is in this bathroom. The bedroom has a large window looking out to the garden and would be very comfortable.

Up stairs to the top level with a high pitched ceiling and old beams. This level has one very large room with living area (small couch, two big chairs, TV, VCR, woodstove), dining area (large table) and kitchen (good sized fridge, dishwasher, stovetop, oven).

The furniture is all very comfortable, in good shape and nice quality. Some pieces are antiques. Original artwork (many older pieces) on the walls. Good lighting. Lots of windows.

Off this main room is a large bedroom with ensuite bathroom (large tub, hand shower). The bed is queen sized and very comfortable. Nice windows in both rooms with views to the owner’s beautiful garden and the countryside beyond. All rooms are carpeted with a good quality of carpet.

The kitchen is well equipped. My only complaint, and it is a tiny one, is that the pots and pans could be better. They are the popular T-Fal brand (but I like stainless steel better).

The Cider House was renovated and turned into an apartment in 2000. You can tell that this was lovingly done and the furniture chosen with care. Everything is beautiful, without being overdone or fussy. There are little cracks in the wood of the beams and if you look carefully you will see some small ornaments in them – a couple of cats, an owl and the most perfect little mouse that looks almost real. I asked John about the mouse ornament and he said is just appeared there one day – a guest had put it there.

John has left a book with the history of the farm (it was once part of Hatch Court, a large manor house next door, which his family owned) and his family. He also has detailed information about the house and a well organized pile of brochures and local books. There are also some videos and books.

As much as the cottage is perfect itself, so is the location. Belmont Farm is beautiful. You have views out over the countryside and there is a 70 acre woods where John has made a one hour walking trail through the remains of an old garden (from the 1800s I think). This trial is open to the public three days a week, but if you stay here you can walk in these woods at any time. When we were there in May, the woods were filled with garlic flowers and the bluebells were just ending. We saw a deer in a field beside the woods. You can do a lovely one hour walk on the trail through the woods.

A public footpath from Hatch Beauchamp passes in front of the main house. You can walk to the town pub from the house in 10 minutes, on footpath the whole way, not on roads. The Parish Church is beside the house. Services are only held there a couple of times a month and cars drive in a different road, so you are not bothered by the church. You can see the Hatch Court manor house from the farm.

The town of Hatch Beauchamp has a pub, but no shops. There are many small villages within a 15 minutes drive with interesting pubs and tea rooms. The nearest towns for shopping are Langport, Taunton and Ilminster. Langport has a Tesco; Taunton a Sainsbury’s (one on the first round about after the M5 entrance, another in the center of town). Taunton is the largest town, with a lot of shops on the High Street (they have a Marks and Spenser). Langport and Ilminster are charming smaller towns.

We had a lovely time here and did not get further than 30 minutes away, and yet found lots of things to do. See my blog entries for the week of May 7 - 14, 2005 for things to do in this area.

We paid just over £300 for the week (under $600). There was just the two of us, but four people would be very comfortable here. We plan to return to this cottage.

Helpful Holidays was a very good agency to deal with. I needed places with phones so we could use the Internet and they "helpfully" provided a list of places with phones and I chose from them. I paid with a credit card. They responded promptly to all my emails and answered all my questions. I will use them again when booking in the West Country.

I posted a lot of photos of this cottage, the farm and the gardens: Slow Travel Photos - Cider House

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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