every now and then A. and i chat about moving to the countryside, buying a big rambling house, getting our huge dining room tabletop out of storage and baking bread. a few things that stop us are proximity to our fantastic friends (a big guestroom(s) always features into our dream country house), commuting to London for work and not having fantastic coffees and breakfasts just a quick stroll away. even though we both grew up on and around farms and small towns, we wonder whether we would make friends in the countryside or whether we would we feel like city impostors forever screaming at our wifi for plodding along at a tractor's pace.
over the weekend, we stayed in the village of Bruton, in Somerset, two hours west of London. we've spent a bit of time in Somerset over the past 10 months since my niece started school down there. it's really beautiful countryside (especially in Spring) with greystone villages, apple trees and generally a happy glow about the place. i guess what also appeals to us both is that it has a real sense of working farms. the gorgeous village of Bruton convinced us that the countryside may be an option after all......
my sister (who is becoming a bit of a Somerset expert these days), recommended that we stay in a place called: at the chapel. it's an imposing building on Bruton High Street but rather than a chapel, it was originally in fact, a 17th century coaching inn. the owners started out with a restaurant and bakery and have now expanded with wine shop, downstairs bar and 5 rooms upstairs (more planned this year).
the rooms were only finished 3 weeks ago. and what a find. from the start (calling up to book a room) to finish (we almost felt like hugging them when we left) we loved our stay. we couldn't have been made to feel more welcome and yet there is nothing twee and homely about this place, it's all slick contemporary finishes, amazing design and quality products.
our room was magnificent which had a lot to do with the stunning arched windows throughout the building but also the draped linen curtains, large king sized bed, hidden nooks for Limi and the vast marble-clad ensuite. Limi was especially taken with the huge free-standing bath.
in the morning, a tray of fresh-from-the-oven croissants were delivered to our door with butter and strawberry jam.....combined with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting up from downstairs, it's not a bad way to wake up. after sitting in the window muching on our croissants we headed down to the restaurant to have some coffee and local eggs. as families wandered in and were greeted with hugs and kisses, we felt part of a happy community.
A. says that at the chapel passes 5 of his big tests: fantastic sourdough baked on the premises; great (Australian-style) coffee; light and fluffy, yet crisp croissants; good, decent bacon and a simple but deliciously tasty, prawn and chilli pasta.
one thing's for sure.....with somewhere like that on your doorstep, it may just be the place to sway the move to the country after all.