What is it? Mendip House, a three-diamond rated B&B
Where? Wells, Somerset. The smallest city in England.
Description: [Up_close_and_personal.jpg]So what do you do when you’ve a business meeting in Exeter, 220 miles away, just before Easter weekend? You take your husband and two-year-old son, and make a short holiday of it!
When I called the tourist information centre at Wells, I was told this was a very child-friendly B&B because they had young children themselves, and despite it being one of the busiest weeks of the year, they still had vacancies for a family room.
B&Bs don’t usually cater for guests being around during the day, but we’d already planned visits to Longleat Safari Park and Wookey Hole, plus there are loads more things to do around the area too
You get a TV in your room!
Fridge, microwave and travel cot are all available if you ask.
Local activities: The B&B is only a 2 minute drive from the city centre, which is a quaint city, with the main attractions being the Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace and the recreation park around the moat. But in reality there’s not much in the centre to occupy young children, so you’ll probably find yourselves either going into the beautiful surrounding countryside, or visiting one of the attractions a short drive away.
Wish we had known: To check that we had spare bedding for the single bed before we said goodnight!
Our top tip: To take binoculars to Longleat (or any other) Safari Park – would’ve loved a close up look at those giraffes.
Kids say: “The lions were my favourite,” said Luke aged two, who also learnt to say a new word – rhinoceros – but he needs a bit more practice yet!
Getting There: Check out www.mendiphousewells.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, call Mendip House on 01749 679719. Room rates are from L25 (low season) per person per night based on two people sharing a room. Prices include a full English breakfast. Please enquire about our family rates as these vary depending on age and number of children. We paid L60 for one night in an en-suite family room in high season.
About our stay: And so we found ourselves on a trip to the South West. We started at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, somewhere I’d always wanted to visit, via Wookey Hole in Wells, Somerset, just a hop of 20 miles further south. Then we headed down to Exeter. Having sorted out some ‘child friendly’ accommodation at the Mendip House B&B in Wells for the night in between our visits to Longleat and Wookey, we turned up at the Safari Park and joined the huge queue at the entrance. The first proper day of the Easter break, and a sunny one at that, and we were advised to visit the attractions at the house before doing the safari later – but did we listen? Did we ‘eck! We wanted to see those animals and we wanted to see them now, so we joined the crawl around the park to stare at the rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes, tigers, and lions, amongst others. There are a few opportunities to get out of the car to have a look at some animals – we loved the wallabies and goats -before you reach the later enclosures of the big game reserve with tigers, lions and wolves. The deer park (you can feed them from your car after buying a cup of ‘deer food’) was a big hit. [Postman_Pat_Village.jpg] After the safari, which took us a leisurely two hours to complete, we parked up outside Longleat House and were pleasantly surprised at the number of other attractions available on the all-inclusive ‘Longleat Passport Ticket’. Unfortunately, the Safari Boats were out of action, so we missed the chance to feed the sea-lions. Luke was especially taken by the Teacups Ride, a trip around the lake on the Longleat Railway, Pets Corner (although I wouldn’t have some of those animals as pets myself!) and the Postman Pat village. Before we knew it we’d been there for six hours, and so we headed over to Wells to our B&B for the night. We were greeted by the owner Vanessa’s two-year-old giggling son, who immediately made us feel at home. After signing in, we lugged all our bags (we’d only come for one night!) to the family room which had a single bed for Luke. We thought we’d chance it instead of a cot as he’s at that stage where he’s too big for travel cots. Unfortunately there was no bed guard, so we rearranged the cabinets to line them up alongside the bed, covered over with blankets to protect him from sharp corners. Laurence Llewellyn Bowen wouldn’t have been impressed! The room was clean, spacious and pretty, although it had a mixture of modern bright colours and furniture that you’d find at your granny’s. The bathroom was small but functional, but I was grateful it was en-suite, especially later in the night. Luke went to sleep easily enough, but was restless, and after one episode where he slid down the bed and off the side (not hurting himself, thankfully!) he began coughing quite a lot and had a bout of sickness. After we found that there was no spare bedding, we stripped the duvet cover and lay that on the base, then covered him over with the bare duvet. Trying to rinse through the dirty bed sheets in a sink not much larger than a dinner plate wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t until the daylight hours that I realised I should’ve just thrown them in the shower! We made it through the night event-free after that, and woke to a superb full ‘English’ in the airy breakfast room. Vanessa agreed that some slight changes would’ve made it even more ‘child-friendly’ and we have agreed to speak again soon about possibly developing this idea more. So watch this space! The next day we went just a couple of miles down a country lane to Wookey Hole. Now steps aren’t my strong point, so after hearing that we’d have to manage over 200 steps with both Luke and a folded buggy (you can borrow lightweight buggies for free), I wasn’t that enamored about tackling the caves after all. But I’m really glad we did, because they were bright enough inside so that Luke wasn’t scared, our guide recounted some of the mysterious myths surrounding the Witch of Wookey, and we marvelled at the beauty of this natural structure. The steps actually weren’t too bad or too steep, and Luke (and Mummy!) managed to walk up and down them all fairly easily. There was even a ‘short cut’ at the end for those scaredy-cats like me who didn’t want to walk over the very high metal bridge. [Looking_Down_on_Dinosaur_Valley.jpg] After coming out into the (rainy!) open air we walked through the Valley of the Dinosaurs, which seems to have bizarrely also been inhabited by some fairies and King Kong! But they were all very impressive and worth the soaking we got whilst we wandered around them. The indoor attractions are great for older children, there’s a demonstration of handmade paper making, a regular concert in the theatre, a Magical Mirror Maze and a children’s play zone. For ‘oldies’ there’s also a Cave Museum, an olde worlde seaside pier, and lots of ‘one-armed bandits’ and similar old-fashioned games that you can play using old one penny pieces. All in all it was a superb couple of days away, and a much better idea than attempting that long drive and a night away on my own. *Kirsty is CEO and co-founder of entertainthekids.com. She lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and two-year-old son
Created: 2006-04-13 17:03:47.793