Family Road Trip Part One: Somerset

As a family, our trips and adventures usually focus on us staying for a week or so in a specific location and using it as a base to explore other places nearby.  It works well for us: we like being able to feel like we have a bit of a home away from home that we can settle in; it allows us to discover what’s beneath the surface of a place a bit more in depth; and we can pretty much stick to a similar routine (ish – we do let them have at least a few late nights!) that we have at home which the girls need in order to be energetic and happy enough to go out adventuring every day.  Also, the husband likes to ‘go on holiday’ whereas I like to ‘travel’ which are two very different things!  Having a base means that he can stay in and relax whilst I go out exploring and the girls can either accompany me or stay with him depending on how they feel that day.

However, as well as this system works for us, I’ve been itching to do a little bit of a family road trip with our girls now that they’re a bit older.  Firstly because I have wonderful memories of road-tripping around Australia and New Zealand in my late teens/early twenties – I loved the excitement of discovering new places every few days and seeing the diversity of each location.  And secondly because I’m desperate to explore various places in the USA (California, the Pacific North West, the North Eastern States from New York up to Maine, Route 66… the list goes on!) and really, a family road trip is the only sensible way to go about it.  So I figured we needed to get in a bit of practice before embarking on an epic journey like that.

May half term seemed like the perfect time to try out a mini family road trip.  My ex-stepmum (don’t ask!), who I’m still very close to, was over from America visiting her Mum and brother in Somerset, plus my best friend gave birth to her baby girl a couple of months ago and I’d not had the chance to get down to Southampton to meet her yet.  Each party could only do specific dates and it left a gap of two days in the middle.  Rather than head back home in between visits only to make the long drive back down again just a couple of days later, we decided it made more sense to stay over somewhere in between and turn it into a little adventure – our first family road trip.

After much research and deliberation I found and booked a lovely looking Airbnb for our stopover in between the two visits – our first ever experience of staying in one.  And so our itinerary was set and our family road trip was arranged – six days in total and three distinct stages.  We’d spend two days and two nights in each place, starting in Somerset, moving on to Dorset and finishing up in Hampshire.

Part 1:  Somerset

We set out early, as we always do when we holiday in the UK, in an attempt to beat the bank holiday weekend traffic.  Sadly we didn’t leave early enough and we had an awful journey down.  There were long delays on the M5 due to an accident and so we decided to take a different route rather than sit in traffic for hours on end.  That was a huge mistake – neither of us had anticipated quite how ‘across-country’ it would be, with winding roads a-plenty.  Poor Mimi ended up being car-sick for the first time ever and a journey that should have taken just three hours from door to door ended up taking seven hours in total.

Traditional car selfie (before Mimi was poorly)

As stressful as it was, the reward when we did eventually arrive at my family’s home was completely worth it.  They live in an absolutely beautiful old farmhouse with a watermill, which dates back to 1840, situated deep in the countryside of the Blackdown Hills near the Somerset/Devon border in the middle of nowhere. No mobile phone reception, limited wifi, a couple of acres of land – the perfect place to completely switch off from the world.

The beautiful farmhouse we were staying in

Exploring the grounds – there were hidden treasures around every corner

The wisteria was so beautiful! The perfect time of year to visit

Poor Mimi was still feeling a bit wobbly, so we took our belongings to where we’d all be sleeping for the next couple of nights (the girls were absolutely thrilled to be on camp-beds!) and had a little wander around the stunning garden before heading inside for a late lunch of delicious cheese, ham, fruit and homemade bread.

The gardens were just so beautiful – flowers of all kinds spilling out of every border, streams with tiny bridges balanced across them, a hidden pocket of bluebells, giant rhododendron bushes and so much space to run around in.  A forever home for sure and I found myself wandering through the colours and scents regularly throughout the two days we were there.

So much space to run around in!

Wild little adventurer

These little bridges criss-crossed all over the stream that ran through their garden and the girls loved balancing on them to carefully make their way across to the other side to see what else they could find

She reminds me of Alice in Wonderland here

After lunch, tummies settled thanks to good food and lots of talking and laughter, we headed out on a long walk through their land with their endlessly enthusiastic Springer Spaniel, Healey, who Mimi promptly fell head over heels in love with.  It was exactly what we all needed – fresh air and a stretch of the legs as we passed through fields of waist-high grass, delicately tinkling streams, a woodpecker nest (complete with squeaking baby woodpeckers) and pastures full of wildflowers.

Their gardens were full to the brim of the most gorgeous flowers

Fearless explorers

Part of their land. Can you imagine being able to walk somewhere like this every single day? Heaven.

Instant best friends

Back to the farmhouse for a cup of tea, and they had made Mimi a deliciously simple Victoria Sponge birthday cake topped with a candle like no other I’ve seen before.  It was shaped like a Chinese lotus flower and when you lit it the whole thing opened up, spun around in circles and played ‘happy birthday’!  The only snag was that there was no way to actually turn off the music, so eventually we resorted to putting it at the bottom of the garden in order to escape it’s ceaseless tune.

The epic birthday candle in action!

Suitably refuelled with sugar, the girls were keen to ‘help’ with some dog training.  Poor Healey was exhausted at the end of the day from all the running and playing he did and the girls were too.  They loved playing fetch with him, giving him commands and watching Tim get him to practice his training.

I love this photo so much!

Lola felt so grown up helping out with Healey, bless her

They do love each other occasionally 🙂

‘Helping’ with Healey’s dog training

Our second day in this idyllic spot began gently with breakfast and books, followed by a long walk in the countryside through acres of streams and woodland.  Mimi and the husband stayed home as their hayfever was playing up horrendously and neither of them had slept very well.  Our destination was to drop in on some ‘neighbours’ (if you can call them that considering the distance!) who are in the process of going completely off grid by building an eco-roundhouse in the woods.  They’ve used old tree trunks to create the walls; salvaged materials to create the roof which will be topped with earth and grass and plants; and are even building their own furniture and doors.  The toilet is a separate little outbuilding with a small window so you can watch the birds in the trees whilst you’re, ahem, answering the call of nature.  I didn’t take any photos but I have to say it was truly impressive and the girls were really interested in what they were creating.

As we headed back to the farmhouse we picked pretty posies of wildflowers and also called in on some other neighbours who own two horses.  Lola instantly fell in love with them and fed them carrots out of her hand.  Watching her eyes shine with happiness as she gently stroked their velvety, whiskery noses was something I’ve not really seen in her before and I have the feeling she’ll be the one asking for riding lessons when she’s older.

A quiet spot of reading before breakfast

Mimi completely fell in love with Healey. Here she’s saying good morning to him

Exploring a stream

Picking pretty posies of wildflowers

The countryside in Somerset really is beautiful. Heading home after our walk

After lunch Ella and I headed out again with the family to an Open Garden charity event in a nearby village just over the county border in Devon.  Oh goodness, it really was the garden of dreams.  The couple who own it have clearly put decades of hard work into creating this beautiful space full of rare plants – it was absolutely stunning.  We strolled round, taking it all in, and I made a mental note of all the plants I’d love to have in our garden at home.  We chatted over tea and cake, talking about anything and everything, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

Ella taking in the view across the Open Garden

The Open Garden event was absolutely stunning

We had such a lovely time staying with my family and I had really mixed feelings the next day as we prepared to leave.  I hated saying goodbye, knowing that it could be a year or more before we get to see them again, whilst at the same time feeling excited for the next stage our family road trip adventure.

The family!


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  • What a wonderfully pretty place you found! Such a shame about Mimi’s sickness and the hay fever – we suffered badly a few weekends ago. Your amazing pictures have given me an itch to head to the Cotswolds!
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Western Meadows Glamping – Dog-friendly glamping in CornwallMy Profile

    • Reply June 21, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      I know, bless her – she was really struggling. My family’s house was so beautiful. I honestly think I could have stayed there forever!

  • Reply June 21, 2018

    Sarah Christie

    Ah Chloe it looks idyllic and your photos are just beautiful, the house looks lie it is the most peaceful location and that wisteria omg! Hay fever can be such a nightmare cant it? We have suffered a bit lately too. x

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Everyone I speak to is suffering at the moment I think – I hope it eases for you all soon. The wisteria was so beautiful – we were there at exactly the right time to see it in all it’s glory 🙂

  • I love your inclusive approach to family trips! It does sound nice, to be able to see so many people in one go. Mimi’s candle looks beautiful – and I can imagine the scene when you couldn’t turn it off 🙂
    Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) recently posted…Inside a Eurocamp Azure at La Vallée, France. A review of the family-friendly mobile homeMy Profile

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Nell! We do try and make sure there’s something for everyone. It was so lovely to catch up with family after years of not seeing each other – reconnecting with them was very special indeed.

  • Reply June 22, 2018


    What a beautiful family outing in such a beautiful place. WoW. Sounds like you had so much fun together. I love the wisteria. I am desperately trying to find a place around here that has it growing up failing I can’t even find a big floral bush it’s like everyone just plants green here and flowers elsewhere. I need trentham gardens closer. lol #wrc
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    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      We did have fun thank you Jenny – I love reconnecting with family. We managed to catch the wisteria at just the right time (and it was the first one I’d seen all season!)

  • Reply June 22, 2018

    Erin Ek Rush

    What stunning photos! That cottage is so lovely – we’ve not bee to the Cotswolds but this makes me think we need to get a trip planned. That candle has to be the coolest birthday candle I’ve come across as well 😉

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Erin! Somerset is such a beautiful part of the UK. It’s well worth a visit if you can make it down there all the way from Yorkshire!

  • Reply June 23, 2018

    Emily Lord

    Such beautiful pictures! I love your blog! This looks like the most beautiful holiday, I used to love my family holidays like this!
    Emily xx

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Emily, that’s such a lovely thing to say. I have fond memories of family holidays spent visiting relatives too – so simple and yet so full of important moments that last a lifetime.

  • Reply June 23, 2018


    Now that’s a family holiday, looks magical! -saw the link via flea on fb and fell in love with the pic of the cottage before I even started reading!

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      It was magical – that’s the perfect word to describe it!

  • Oh wow it literally looks picture perfect! I love how in touch with nature all of the photos are. We’ve stayed in Somerset for Glasto but that’s it. I’d love to explore more of the area – it looks absolutely beautiful x

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      It is such a beautiful part of the UK! My husband is keen to go to Glastonbury for the festival though I’m not that keen. There’s definitely lots of places to explore.

  • Reply June 24, 2018

    Katy Stern

    Wow Chloe your pictures are always so so beautiful. The Farmhouse looks stunning. Sorry your journey down was so stressful. We have had some similar horrendous journeys but they really are instantly forgotten the moment you arrive!!

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Katy 🙂 I wish we could forget the journey – poor Mimi is now a little nervous of travelling anywhere by car if the journey is more than an hour. We’re trying out the travel wristbands and hoping they do the trick!

  • Reply June 25, 2018

    Karen Beddow

    Another stunning set of photos and another fabulous trip. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Karen 🙂

  • Reply June 26, 2018


    Looks like a gorgeous cottage, so pretty with all the wisteria. Sounds like you had a great trip, what a gorgeous place to explore
    Kerri-Ann recently posted…To my son, today you turned seven…My Profile

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Kerri-Ann you would have loved it there – all of your favourite things in one place 🙂

  • Reply June 26, 2018


    My goodness, what an idyllic setting! The farmhouse is picture-perfect, I’m surprised you managed to stop and these few you’ve featured! Poor Mimi what a shame she was so ill and what with it being her birthday too 🙁 xx

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      I know, bless her. She perked up a bit once she had some hayfever medicine thank goodness. I have so many more photos that I could have shared but didn’t – it was so beautiful there.

  • Reply June 26, 2018

    Zena's Suitcase

    What a lovely holiday with the family and that garden is out of this world. I can’t imagine how much work that would have taken.
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted…Road Trip Essentials: Surviving Long Car Journeys with KidsMy Profile

    • Reply June 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      I know! It’s the garden of my dreams.

  • Reply June 28, 2018


    That house is so dreamy! Such an idyllic English home, and that wisteria, wow, what a wonderful place to enjoy time as an extended family.
    The photo of Lola running with the dog is so beautiful Chloe. I just love how clever you are at capturing moments like that so beautifully. x

    • Reply June 30, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Morgana, that’s such a lovely thing to say. That photo is one of my favourites from our whole trip – she was just so carefree in that moment.

  • This place reminds me of a the secret garden or similar children’s tale, so pretty and very English Country Garden. Such a shame about Mimi’s sickness poor thing. Honestly these pictures are stunning Chloe xx
    Heledd – Running in Lavender recently posted…Simpson Travel : We’re going to Kalkan!My Profile

    • Reply July 7, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Heledd! It was such a beautiful place – so quintessentially English.

  • Reply July 4, 2018

    kuldeep dogra

    Wow! such a beautiful place. images are very beautiful and eye-catching.

  • Reply July 4, 2018


    Great photos, such a cool city and you’ve captured it so well.

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