Somerset with Sykes Cottages – Discounted Stay

*Our stay was discounted by 50% in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are entirely my own.

Soon after Aneurin died I found myself finding a great amount of comfort in nature. I’ve never been an outdoorsy person in the sense that I want to spend valuable Netflix time hiking up hills and foraging for berries but I do love being outside, breathing in the fresh air and getting giddy at wild animals. The calm and quiet of nature seems to reflect onto me and being in a beautiful place brings me a lot of peace. I think in some ways it reminds me that the world is still beautiful and I can still find beauty in the most trying and difficult of times.

Our first Christmas without Aneurin was difficult and became something to just get through rather than enjoy. With that in mind we planned to go away early January which gave us something to focus on during the festive period. We had Somerset in mind as it’s somewhere neither of us had explored very much and we wanted to use the opportunity to visit some friends in the area.
I got in touch with a very lovely lady at Sykes Cottages who helped us choose the perfect place for our stay. We wanted somewhere quite remote so we could just completely relax and switch off in peace. After looking at a few options we settled on Cider House West in Westcombe, a small village a few miles out from Shepton Mallet in Somerset.
The cottage itself is at the end of a little path leading from the owner’s property. It’s an incredibly cosy, self contained little house with dreamy underfloor heating, a mezzanine bedroom, gorgeous woodburner and possibly the fanciest bath set up I’ve ever seen in my life!
After we had briefly settled in and spent a good ten minutes making happy noises at the underfloor heating toasting our toes, I popped outside to take a few photos. I was happily snapping away when I heard a little mew coming from outside the owner’s property. I turned to see a delightful tortoiseshell bundle of fur bounding towards me! Apparently Pickles prefers Cider House West to her real home and tries to make her way in when guests are there which as a proud crazy cat lady delighted me no end! Within hours we were snuggled up on the sofa having a cuddle with the fire on. I could not have been more relaxed!
The house itself was incredibly cosy and perfect for two people. The kitchenette, although small, was ideal for cooking breakfast or a bit of cheese on toast in the evenings. We knew there wasn’t a television at the property which we were fine with but in place of that the owners provide guests with a portable DVD player and a huge collection of DVDs. We didn’t end up using them, instead spending our evenings reading by the fire or lounging in the big bath.
The bath….oh, the bath! The bedroom area is on a mezzanine, with lovely tube lighting running round the ceiling and a truly beautiful bath set up in the corner. Throughout the house are gorgeous bare copper pipes which upstairs, run from the side of the wall, over the ceiling and down the wall into an enormous, deep bath tub. The walls are adorned with vintage mirrors hanging from chains and the owners have a lovely selection of bath oils, bubbles and candles to use. I spent every evening we were there immersed in this heavenly tub and even with my, frankly ridiculous, long legs there was no cold boob vs. cold knees decisions to be made. It was heaven.
Baths aren’t my husbands thing (unless he’s spent the day catching smelly fish) but he was more than content with the wet shower room downstairs which came with the only part of the cottage I didn’t immediately fall in love with….the toilet! It took us a while to work out where the toilet was but once we did, we definitely had a giggle at it. It’s hidden in what appears to be a deep set wooden shelf but upon closer inspection had hinges and when lifted up becomes the toilet! Fortunately a toilet is pretty functional but sitting on a huge seat did take some getting used to! (My husband took a photo but I wasn’t sure how nice it would really be to see a big ol’ toilet bowl so I’ve left it to your own imaginations!)
Due to the kitchen in the cottage being on the small side (and my one attempt at cooking some bacon ending in a lot of smoke and a few swear words…) we ate a main meal out once a day. Our favourite find was recommended in the owner’s very helpful information pack called At The Chapel. Not only did they do incredible food (including one of the best wood fired pizzas I’ve had in a long time) they have their own bakery full of delicious treats. We stopped on our way home to get croissants and hot chocolate for the car journey and a loaf of rosemary focaccia to take home. If you’re near Bruton I strongly recommend a visit!
Our time away was very healing for both of us. This was in part due to a visit to some close friends of ours and their daughter who is also our (g)odd daughter. Seeing children, let alone interacting with them, has been painful for a long time but seeing Aurora helped us heal more than we could have imagined. They’ve both been such a support to us over the last year and I feel incredibly lucky to have them and Aurora in our lives.

The beginning of January was difficult and hard to make sense of for a whole host of reasons, some of which I’ll explain in a later post, so getting a bit of headspace was very welcome. Being able to stand outside, take a deep breath and be surrounded by beauty is powerful. I’m very much a home body but I need to get away sometimes to take stock. When you’ve experienced a trauma like the death of a child there is a strong instinct to run away. We become different people from who we were before, the one who other people know and love. Having to face people from the before period of our lives is incredibly hard sometimes because whilst there are certain expectations of us there are also a lot of unknowns. People watch us to see how we react to certain things, we hold back or say things we think people want to hear and it can be utterly exhausting. Taking some time out every now and then allows us to catch our breath, reassess and recharge. Everyone needs that sometimes, whether you’ve experienced a trauma or not.

Find somewhere beautiful, whether it’s the other side of the country or at the bottom of your garden. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and find out what heals you.

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