The Borrel family stayed at The Oval in Dunster during October half-term. With three boys, Jamie aged seven, Max aged 12- and 16-year-old Luke, that was one full car travelling from South West London down to the South West. We recorded a podcast after their holiday about what they enjoyed the most. Alas, sometimes the technology doesn’t play ball, and this was one of those occasions. So instead, Lucy has written this Guest Story with their approval.
The Oval Cottage
Mum Catherine says, “The house was gleaming when we arrived. It feels just like a home, with a really warm welcome. We’ve stayed in other self-catering properties, but The Oval really does seem to put its arms around you and wrap you in everything holiday! My family are very discerning, and we were all really impressed.”
Max says, “We thought the garden was nice with a good view of the hills. The house was in a great place with good walks to pretty hikes, which we really liked. Dunster Castle and the Watermill are nearby. We enjoyed that.”
Jamie loved the big TV and “very comfortable” four-poster bed. He particularly liked the way the old parts of the house sat alongside the modern elements. They liked the window in the front room, the window seat and the wood burner, which was great for getting the whole family into the sitting room. He was sad when they left the house.
Our Favourite Walks
The boys told me that the Porlock Weir walk was “quite nice”. Catherine braved a swim here in her wetsuit, which she described as “refreshing as the water was not cold”. And as a bonus, she met the Polar Bears – our local wild sea swimmers (you can listen to our windswept podcast with some of the dippers). The family treated themselves to noodles at Porlock Weir in the arches – this bar is part of the excellent Ziangs empire (there’s also a great Asian takeaway in the village). They loved the food and the service. Spring rolls were a real favourite, Jamie said they were “really good” (this is high praise from Jamie, who has very exacting expectations of speedy service and excellent food).
Day Tripping in Dulverton
A lot of scones were eaten over half term, essential when you’re visiting the West Country. Team Borrel took a drive out to Dulverton, where they delighted in a walk by the river. Scones were enjoyed here, as well as toast. Jamie says the scones were “scone with the wind”. That’s his joke, and he’s very proud of it!
Discovering History at Dunster Castle
Max, the family’s history buff, reminisces, “We went into Dunster Castle. We thought it was interesting – most of it was new, which means Victorian. It was first moved into in the 15th Century by the Luttrell family, who was related to the family that commissioned the famous Luttrell Psalter (which Max had studied at school). It had a good view of the sea. The family who lived there had a pet cemetery with an old tombstone for a hunting dog. There were also many exotic birds in the Castle – parrots and budgies from the 19th Century to the early 20th Century.”
Max saw and recalled so many interesting things that he could be a tour guide. Indeed, he suggested that younger brother Jamie could dress up as an exotic bird to entertain visitors!
Of course, after the Castle, the family visited the National Trust tearoom for – you guessed it – more scones!
Eating Out and Entertainment in Dunster
Minehead Arcades – DibDabs, Whack-a-mole and Push 2p
At the two arcades in Minehead – The Arkade and Merlins – everyone had a good time. Jamie is now an expert on the whack-a-mole. Jamie remembered getting at least 39 or 41 tickets, which took a lot of concentration! And for several hundred points in total, the family walked about with a DibDab each at the end. It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part…
Overall, the boys didn’t know anything about Exmoor before they arrived in Dunster. As it turns out, they were pleasantly surprised, especially by the beautiful countryside, walks and views. So, was it worth the long drive? Yes! And the good news is they’ll be back!
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