We had the great pleasure of hosting my Mum and Dad on their recent visit to England.  It was lovely to see them as always and we maximised our time together with a trip to Somerset followed by some time in Cheshire too…

After an early morning airport pickup, we drove down to South Somerset to a little village called Montacute.  The cottage we stayed in was the Tudor Rose and was very old (please see my Dad for details on the exact age as this feature was extremely pleasing to him) and full of character.  It was also perfectly equipped for the three of us – and oh so central. It had an interesting selection of DVD’s so we entertained ourselves during the week with movies such as The Queen, The Duchess and a couple of Agatha Christie one’s as well.

On the first day we were together, we walked to the National Trust property of Montacute House which was just a stone’s throw from the cottage.  I really enjoyed a guided tour around the property being transported back in time to the Elizabethan era when it was built and learning about Edward Phelips who was responsible for the house’s build.  We had scones for lunch and explored the grounds, house, shop and second hand book shop.

It was Dad’s birthday the next day so we (very appropriately) spent a good part of the day exploring some pretty little Somerset churches – including one that had appeared on a postage stamp in the 1970s (St. Mary’s Church, Huish Episcopi).  In the afternoon we went to the Somerset Cider Brandy Company and saw a lot of apples being crushed into cider, cider brandy, cider ice wine and even apple chutney.  We even wandered in their orchards and I tried to pretend I didn’t see Dad stealing apples from the orchard….  In the evening we went out for a lovely pub meal at the Phelips Arms – again just a stone’s throw from our cottage.

One of my favourite cities is Wells and we made sure we visited on market day.  We explored the farmer’s market, the beautiful cathedral and had lunch in the cathedral café.  In the afternoon we went into the Bishop’s Palace and Mum didn’t disappoint us by trying on the bishop dress up clothes that were there despite the fact that the place was overrun by tours.  She does make me laugh.  Pork pies from the farmer’s market made for a lovely dinner.

On our final day in Somerset we visited Barrington Court which is another National Trust property.  This one’s garden’s were it’s jewel in the crown.   We learned a lot about how the property had become derelict and was being used to store barrels of cider by tennant farmers until it was leased to one half of Tate and Lyle who spent a lot of money and time returning it to it’s former glory.  On the way home from Barrington Court, we went for a walk on Ham Hill which had amazing views from the top.  There was also a stone circle, a war memorial, a quarry and a lime kiln – although we didn’t manage to find that.

On the way home we stopped in Glastonbury for a walk up Glastonbury Tor.  The sun was shining and it was a lovely morning for a walk.   When we got to the top we found a few people sitting and enjoying the sun – not what you expect in October!

Once we were back in Cheshire, we had a couple of days touring around the usual Wirral haunts including Moreton shore (with Stella), Royden Park, West Kirby beach and Parkgate.  Of course there was ice cream involved in Parkgate!  We visited the shops and market in Birkenhead and also a few garden centres for good measure.  We had a lovely family day when Jayne, Paul and the kids came to visit and played some games, ate some food and celebrated October birthdays with a cake shaped like the Wirral Peninsula made by Emma’s Cupcakery.

We also spent a day in Tatton Park.  Again I enjoyed exploring the gardens, the house and Dad was really excited to watch the deer rut in the park. The best lunch of the holiday for me was the one we had there in the Gardener’s Cottage.  This little place was tucked away on the edge of the courtyard and has been crowned the Best Tea Room in Cheshire by the magazine Cheshire Life.

On the penultimate evening of Mum and Dad’s visit, we enjoyed a lovely meal out at the Irby Mill.  Lin and Denis joined us for some yummy pub food and good conversation.  I’ve never eaten there and was really pleased with the food, service and atmosphere.  Definitely one to consider in the future.

It is always hard to say good-bye but this was somehow lessened knowing that in just a couple of months we will be together again for Christmas.  Thanks for the visit, Mum & Dad, and I’m very much looking forward to us being together again.