Dunster Castle, based in Dunster near Minehead,  is an ancient castle and comfortable country home with dramatic vistas and subtropical gardens.

Dramatically sited on a wooded hill, a castle has existed here since at least Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower giving a reminder of its turbulent history.  You can trace more than 1,000 years of history at Dunster Castle. Find out how it evolved from a Saxon stronghold into a comfortable Victorian home.

Photo © Charlie Waite.
Photo © Charlie Waite.

The castle that you see today became a lavish country home during the 19th century for the Luttrell family, who lived here for 600 years.

The castle boasts spectacular views toward the Bristol channel, the Quantock hills and up to the moors of Exmoor.

With a beautiful castle to explore, many hands on activities, gardens, a crypt and more, this is certainly a fun and historical day out.

You can read more about Dunster Castle here:  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle/

 

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Set in the heart of Taunton, the Museum of Somerset lies within the 12th Century Taunton Castle and tells the county’s story from prehistoric times to the present day, using real objects, interactive games, eye-catching film projections and the words and voices of Somerset people, past and present.

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From an under-floor Plesiosaur, the largest collection of Roman coins ever discovered in Britain and a chilling recreation of the infamous Bloody Assizes – the Museum of Somerset is a must-see visitor attraction, containing objects from across many of the museum’s collections, including geology, archaeology, medieval and ethnography. The museum also houses the Somerset Military Museum.

As well as the permanent galleries, the museum offers regularly changing temporary exhibitions and activities such as family drop-in sessions and ‘talk and tea’ with a curator. There is also a programme of special events, including evening talks, music and outdoor theatre.

You can read more about this fantastic little museum on their official website > http://museumofsomerset.org.uk

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The Jane Austen Centre in Bath was originally created with the guidance of local members of the Jane Austen Society and authorities on Jane Austen, Louise Ross and Maggie Lane.

The Exhibition aims to be not only informative but exciting and illuminating. With knowledgeable staff, a lovely period atmosphere, exclusive film starring Adrian Lukis, costume, contemporary exhibits, maps and books.

Photo credit: The Jane Austen Centre.
Photo credit: The Jane Austen Centre.

They have recently added a new section to the exhibition where we allow our visitors to have a go at dressing up using Regency dresses, coats, bonnets, top hats, shawls, fans, reticules and parasols. As you would imagine, it is going down very well and everyone is having a lot of fun. When you visit you must try it yourself!

The centre also has a beautiful waxwork of Jane Austen created by experts using forensic evidence. All in all the Centre is the perfect starting point to an exploration of Jane Austen’s Bath.

For more information please visit: http://www.janeausten.co.uk/the-jane-austen-centre/exhibition/

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In the middle of the bustling small town of Glastonbury lies the peaceful historical Glastonbury Abbey. With information on the Abbey dating back to 63AD you can feel the history as you walk around.

As you enter the Abbey you are greeted by friendly and knowledgeable people at the pay desk and as you walk around the small indoor museum which contains all of the information and artefacts they have found.  In the museum section there are also some activities that children can get involved in such as brass rubbing, embroidery and an informational trivia sheet as well as the costumed guides that walk around to bring the Abbey to life.

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When you exit the museum you are greeted by the wonderful sight of the Abbey itself.  We have been here during every season. On a bright summer’s day the blue sky and sunshine brings the Abbey to life with a vibrant happy yet peaceful feel. During the colder months with the mist and fog, you can certainly see why the Abbey also has a plethora of myth and legend around it.  With links to King Arthur and other legends this Abbey is well worth a visit to soak up history, archaeology and folklore.

You can find all the information you need regarding the Abbey on their official website > www.glastonburyabbey.com

 

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Our Shepherd’s Hut is set on the side of a hill in the beautiful Blackdown Hills, but as we worked outside it this weekend, we realised that our woolly hedge had grown up and was blocking the view.  Now, we have a lot of woolly hedges on our farm – which may lead you to think that we’re inclined to laziness in the hedge cutting arena, but read on!  I can confirm that we do cut and lay our hedges, but we also leave quite a lot wild to create natural habitat areas.  But we had a problem, we wanted our glamping guests to be able to enjoy the beautiful view?  So we sat on the shepherd hut steps, pondering matters with a cup of tea.  Then it came to us, we should cut a hedge window – just enough to let the view escape, but not so much that it flattened the hedge, a good solution all round.

So, I took the important role of standing by the hut and directing where the window should be, which obviously involved much gesticulating with my second cup of tea!  Himself was sent up the ladder and under very tricky conditions, he managed to snip and manipulate the wild hedge with all the expertise of a topiarist in training – and the beauty of the rolling Blackdown Hills in front of us slowly emerged.

IMG 15922 300x300 - Cut a window, make a cup of tea and then relax...
Coffee, tea and cupcakes in the Dimpsey hut

The great bit about doing jobs that involve the shepherd’s hut is that you always have an excuse to pop the whistling kettle onto the hob – so a celebration cup of tea was declared to be in order, accompanied by a side treat of cupcakes – delicious!

Looking out from the Shepherd's Hut
Relaxing on the steps after a busy afternoon

The interesting thing was that as we sat on the steps, admiring the newly-emerged view, cup of tea (me) or coffee (him) in hand, we realised that we had also inadvertently opened up another view – our own… Our pharmacy-no-rx.net farmhouse is lovely, but we tend to rush into it and rush around it, busy family people with lots to do.  As we sat on the steps of the hut, relax half-snoozy from the warm winter sun, we drank in a view that we know and love but very rarely indulge in.  Himself leant sideways and nudged me with his shoulder..”We should do this more often…”, “I know” says I in reply, “but maybe not while we’ve got glamping guests in the hut eh? ;-)”

 

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Setting sail for success…

So…I’m at a turning point here, I started Sarah Arrow’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge full of enthusiasm at the beginning of January and churned out posts on an almost daily basis. I set time aside to do them and jealously guarded that time in my diary and I WROTE BLOG POSTS and learnt lots. I was setting sail for success…

Then…people started back at work after the Christmas break, children went back to school and my other work started kicking and screaming like a spoilt child! I gave up a little bit of my scheduled time and one of Sarah’s daily emails passed me by…I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again…

So the next day, I got up early and tidied up my website About Us page in draft…and it is still sitting here now, in draft, sulkily throwing me glances from the Day One app I draft my blog posts in. Deflation set in..and a few more of Sarah’s daily emails flew past me.

Procrastination…

Soon…I found myself procrastinating with the best of them…all for good reason but I’m not going to indulge myself by giving excuses, because really I could have, and should have found time. This business is a new venture for us and I want it to be a success. I recognise that it’s important for a glamping business to have a personality, to paint the picture of where people will be staying and what there is around us. I decided to do this and here I was almost deciding to give up.

Then…bing, that fateful day when Sarah’s 30th email dropped into my inbox. It was yesterday, I was still engaged with the group, seeing people who started with me approaching the end of the challenge. But I’m also starting to think to myself that it’s not worth starting now…oh those little voices are so persuasive…I nearly fell for them!

Realisation…

But no, they haven’t won..I have slapped myself round the face with a wet fish (metaphorically speaking, of course ;-)) and I am getting back into the blogging seat right now – starting with this post.

I will only improve my blogging if I actually blog and there’s a great community on the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, all of us going through the same process.  If I don’t apply myself to blogging now, I probably never will!

Determination…

So welcome to Day 8, I’m walking back from the edge and quietly picking up my challenge. To finish, here are a few things that I am going to implement as I set sail for success once again.

– Listen to Sarah, she knows what she’s talking about – you have to put time aside to blog.

– If you can, write more than one blog post at a time so that you have some to schedule for later use.

– Remember that learning feels uncomfortable sometimes, so stay with it, celebrating success and learning from setbacks.

So here I go again…after a brief stop in a nearby port….setting sail for success.

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A little bit of history.

The Dimpsey Shepherd’s Hut is based on our 500 year old farm, we’ve only been here for 4 years, but since the day we first viewed the house I’ve always felt the echoes of the past here. The whole place has a sense of serenity that only the imprint of the passage of time and generations of inhabitants can bestow.

I’m always very aware that we are just one in a succession of guardians who will love and cherish the house and surrounds. This is never more evident than when we find a relic of the past tucked away in a field or a barn somewhere. We recently found a cider jar, and at the same time, we also found a mud-encased cylinder that looked like it might be something promising.

I took it inside and have finally had the time to clean it up and found that it is a Denby jar, with a pouring lip at the top. The colours are so earthy and I am really delighted that we found it. I researched it and found out that it would either have been used for ink or for a blackener for boots and leather – how interesting and what a great piece to put in the shepherd’s hut.

Romantic Stories about Marmaduke

However, this is where the romantic-story teller in me takes hold and my mind starts connecting another bit of farm history I gleaned from the locals. Evidently, the farm was owned by a chap called Marmaduke Hustings in the late-1800’s and he was renowned for riding into town on his white stallion horse. This was at a time when the calibre of your horse was considered to indicate your standing as a gentleman.

I now like to think that we have the bottle that contained the blacking for his shiny boots and his black bridle leather. There is a horse tether ring on the barn at the front of the house, so I can imagine him striding out to meet his horse and make his splendid way into Chard.

So, if you come and stay – while you’re relaxing in the shepherd’s hut in Hither Orchard (which we have just re-planted after it was grubbed up in the 1970’s) – I wonder if you can tune in and catch the whispers of stories past as they drift past you. We’d love to hear them if you do…

 

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We stayed in a number of glamping locations as part of our research for Dimpsey (well that’s what I told hubby it was anyway, it’s normally a bit difficult to drag him away from his farm ;-))  As part of doing that we learnt a few good tips and thought we would share them 🙂

Pre-holiday Welcome Letter

  • Firstly, read the pre-visit instructions that they send you – they usually contain some tips about little quirks of the location that can be useful.  Things like a location map and the times when Satnav doesn’t take you to the right place – as well as a telephone number if you get lost.
  • Next print this document out and put it ready to take with you in the car – don’t rely on the fact that your mobile signal will work to recall the email.  We discovered this one in Wales – cue the classic “couple in a car ” argument 😉
  • Most people list the things that you will find in your shepherd’s hut – so again read this rather than making assumptions.  We assumed that there would be a fridge in one location – wrong!
  • A lot of glamping locations have compost toilets – as they are in out of the way locations.  They have come on loads since the early days, so they really aren’t a hassle – but can be a bit of a surprise if you didn’t realise, so do check before you book.

Useful things to pack for a glamping trip

  • We always take some empty carrier bags with us – they come in really useful as extra rubbish bags, or to separate clean from dirty washing on the way home.
  • Many places offer a welcome basket of basic provisions – but this will be mentioned in their Welcome letter, so if they don’t you may need to take some milk etc with you in case you arrive late.  It’s also worth checking where the nearest shop/pub is.  Again, do read the information before you go – as it’s often listed in there.
  • Make sure that you take appropriate footwear with you – you will want to so some walking so wellies and/or walking boots might come in useful.
  • Glamping holidays are all about the outdoors and are meant to be relaxing, so download some music you love, pack that book or magazine you’ve been meaning to read for ages – and get ready to unwind and recharge.
  • A torch is always good to have with you, and you might want a penknife and a box of matches.  Campfire and candlelight are great companions for a glamping holiday.  Oh, and we always take a bag of marshmallows and skewer sticks with us – you can’t beat toasting marshmallows over the fire embers.
  • We always take a pair of flip flops or thick socks so we have something to wear inside the shepherd’s hut – rather than outdoor shoes.

There, I hope that some of these glamping tips will be useful for you. For the record, Satnav brings you almost to our door, there is a fridge in the Dimpsey hut and it is a flushing toilet.  But you will still need to read our Welcome letter when you book to get things like phone numbers etc.  Most importantly, wherever you stay, make sure that you do enjoy yourselves and take time out to relax!

 

 

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Relax…and plug into your life

As you rushed out of the door this morning, did you miss something as you left?? A longing look from a partner, a child or a pet – a wave from a neighbour, a smile from the postman??

Our lives are so busy now, that we rush from one thing to another – our minds disengaging from now before we’ve even left here. Our minds stray to other things needing our attention, or to beeping phones and flashing iPads.

Oh yes, we do got the big things done and we do notice the things that make enough noise to catch our attention. But by rushing out of this moment, this one right now, we miss the little things that could gladden our day and make our hearts soar.

The smudgy kiss from a toddler soon to be a teenager, the subtle hint of a secret waiting to be coaxed into the open, the imprint of a hug upon our soul, the time to truly be ourselves.

These are the things that matter, the things that we can’t recapture or watch on iplayer later. So seek that time, find those places, unplug, relax and tune in and discover a hidden world that’s been passing you by…before it’s too late x

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Somerset is a destination in its own right

For a long time, Somerset was the place you drove through to get to your Cornish holiday, but it is fast becoming one of the go-to destinations in its own right.  So what are the attractions of Somerset??

Location

The M5 and the A303 both run directly through Somerset, as do the main Paddington and Waterloo trainlines – giving great access to North And South Somerset respectively.  Dimpsey is based on the Blackdown Hills and is only a few minutes country lane drive from the A303, meaning that popping down for a weekend from London and the Home Counties is really easy – there’s nothing worse than driving around for hours trying to find your destination!

From our location in South Somerset, you can easily explore Somerset, but you can also be in Dorset and Devon within 10 minutes – so it really is a great base to explore the Southwest.

You can find out more about where we are here – Dimpsey, About the Location

Local places to visit

We’re based about half an hour from Lyme Regis and 40 minutes from Bridport, both of which are lovely seaside locations with bustling towns to explore.  Bridport boasts a renowned vintage quarter and has been the source and inspiration for many of the shepherd’s hut vintage pieces.

Beautiful house and gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard, Somerset
Beautiful house and gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard

Within 15 minutes drive, we have Barrington Court, Montacute House and Forde Abbey – all of which boast beautiful buildings, gardens and tearooms, with especially delicious cakes.

A little bit further afield, at Bruton (about an hour away) we have the Hauser & Wirth gallery, Stourhead House Gardens and Farm Shop and Longleat Safari Park – all fabulous days out.

If you’re looking to go out on foot or by bicycle, we are based down a network of country lanes, with lots of footpaths nearby – perfect for exploring.

You can find out more about places to visit here – Dimpsey – Local Places to Visit

Local places to eat

Somerset is fast becoming a real foodie destination and we have listed a number of our favourite destinations on the website here – Local places to eat / buy food – as well as local farm shops.  The hut has a gas hob and barbecue facilities, so you can buy meat and provisions straight from the farm and indulge your inner chef.

And to finish…

There are so many artisan product and food producers across the Blackdown Hills and South Somerset, that we come across new people nearly every day.  Many of them welcome visitors – so this provides another way to see inside Somerset – if you are interested we can recommend a whole host of people.

So there you go, Somerset has so much to offer as a holiday destination – so why not book up to come and explore and relax??

 

 

 

 

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