I went to Finland once, to compete in the World Air Guitar Championships. One of the constants of that trip (aside from cheese soup, the pear cider, and the constant silent strumming with strangers) was that most of the Fins we met in the tiny town, close to Siberia, were completely baffled why we would come to their neighbourhood on holiday. A lot of them laughed, and believe me, Fins don’t emote much.
But, we don’t have that in the South West, do we? Living on the outskirts of Bristol, as I do, you tumble into stunning countryside from every escape route you take. I love Bristol for the fact that you can see the places you could go from inside the city limits, imagine yourself spilling over the top of Dundry Hill down into the Mendips, or speeding past the Methodist Church at the top of Totterdown and out to the lushness of Somerset on the A37.
That’s why staycations are so ace for us – you really don’t have to go far to feel absolutely miles away from your home and your troubles. When Somerset Yurts asked us as a family to come and stay for a night, it came at the perfect time. I’ve dreaded our first school summer holiday for months. My feeble spreadsheet of childcare and work commitments hasn’t seen me through the guilt and the mistakes and the feeling of not doing anything that well. A night, off-grid, no commitments, just the four of us, sounded fabulous.
Somerset Yurts is the beautiful baby of farmers Mark and Emma Cavill, who somehow balance three small sons, one Labrador and a few hundred dairy cattle with the running of a small, carefully curated holiday business. If you’re looking for a real farm stay, where you feel the grass under your feet, and it’s long, and lush, not mowed, and you look out on miles of views uninterrupted by a set of swings or a shower block, Somerset Yurts is your place.
There are six yurts, and soon, two incredible self-contained safari tents, and one barn unit, which contains a kitchen and family room, toilets and showers, and an outdoor covered area. There’s a small car park, away from the yurts, and that’s it! It’s so beautiful, and so perfectly simple.
Our yurt was Furzeclose, a traditional Mongolian Yurt, with the most blissful orange colour scheme to it. Have you been in a Yurt? We had our first holiday as a couple in one, in Portugal, and went back there for our honeymoon, because there’s something about them, they make you feel cocooned with the person you are with. The instant we opened the orange door, I felt this connection with David and the kids. I was so excited to be sleeping with them all in there. I would NEVER have felt excited about sharing a hotel room with them all in that way.
Our daughter was so excited about taking the little sofa bed on, and the Cavills had provided our boy with a travel cot. There were cosy, colourful blankets everywhere. We had a very comfortable double, lit softly by lamplight.
We used our yurt barbecue to have a simple one-pan meal – sausages, fried potatoes and baked beans, washed down with an ice cold cider. Other families started to appear, back from days out, the kids running happily towards the yurt whilst the parents headed for the communal fridge to extract a glass of wine and start dinner. Swallows dipped for insects. The sun started to fade.
We watched our little boy stumping along behind his sister, off to explore. They headed for the open barn, so we joined them, and ended up playing a giant game of ‘what’s the time, Mr Wolf?’ with eight other children. Not a screen or a phone in sight. No soft play, no slide, no x-box room. Just kids being kids and jumping between two giant straw bales. It was perfect.
We all went to bed at nine, late for the kids, but as soon as we lay down to keep quiet while they drifted off, I didn’t want to get up again. That circular roof drew your eyes upwards, and we talked, quietly, and listened to the children playing games in the dark with torches until their parents called them to warmth and bed.
Although it was right in the middle of our heatwave, the farm is up on an elevation, so we decided to try out the woodburner. It completed the magic and added a fuzzy warmth to the place. Listening to all three of my most loved softly sleeping, honestly I forgot about most other things.
The smell, from the crisp outside air, of bacon cooking inside, is a hugely evocative memory for me, of every holiday in Devon, every festival, so making breakfast in the kitchen, fuelled by a lot of coffee, was kind of a happy ritual. I’m not eating red meat any more, so I just had a jam sandwich, but that was just as much of a treat. We left early, because we both had to go to work, but it was the best commute ever. I’d say you are just over an hour from Bristol, in traffic, as Somerset Yurts is quite near Taunton.
Somerset Yurts would be the perfect place to holiday with a big family group or group of friends, because the yurts are just close enough to each other without being crowded. They are set up for weddings and other big parties and I bet a wedding there would be quite magical.
We would go back, without a doubt, and stay for longer. I’d love to see my kids really kick back and enjoy being so free of the constraints of our toy box or snack cupboard. I’d like to read my book at the picnic table and have a cup of coffee in the birdsong. I’d like to feel that feeling where you don’t want to put your foot out from under the duvet to that sharp, inside but outside air of sleeping under canvas. I’d also like to see the new safari tents in action, because they looked super fly from the outside.
Honestly, I don’t think we have to go far in Bristol to enjoy a perfect holiday, and Somerset Yurts is a super strong option for those people not wanting to travel for miles but still see a completely different pace of life, in a beautiful setting. There’s still a bit of space for the summer holidays, and weeks up to closure in October for a winter break.
Thanks to Mark and Emma for having us to stay. It was wonderful.