The Castle of Comfort
I was going to drive to the hotel – to celebrate our anniversary (we have about six a year) and it was the first time since my refresher driving lessons that I had driven with anyone but Pete –the instructor - in the car. I had become accustomed to unstinting praise and encouragement; I thought a few ground rules were required.
P If you want to make any helpful, constructive suggestions, please wait until we have reached our destination.
We had only got half way down the lane when I realised that MTL’s breathing was worrying me.
P Please breathe normally and don’t sigh.
MTL I have to breathe!
P Yes but please breathe evenly and quietly.
I did a bit of deep breathing myself and tried to relax my tense hands on the steering wheel. After we had gone through the first town I began to relax and realised that my companion also was loosening up – in spite of the notoriously bendy road between Williton and Bridgwater. I said I needed plenty of warning before turning right but fortunately the road was very quiet and we had an easy turn into the hotel grounds. I waited until a delivery man had vacated a space and then slowly but surely parked to MTL’s satisfaction.
We were greeted by a jolly lady who asked if we were Mr and Mrs A or B. Then she said we had been upgraded to the Bridal Suite.
‘It’s OK! ‘she reassured us, ‘You don’t have to do anything’.
The room was lovely with a door into the garden and a large bathroom with double hand basins, roll top bath and splendid separate shower. Sweets, a tiny box of chocs, still and fizzy water and a carafe of sherry. Everything you expect in a luxury room and all the sweeter as we had been awarded it. I couldn’t wait to investigate the garden which rises up behind the hotel giving fine distant views. I knew the woods behind would be full of our wonderful red deer but unless I got up at crack of dawn I would be unlikely to see them. They are very shy.
Walking up to the woods I realised that I had walked nearby in the early part of the Coleridge Way. The hotel was a coaching inn in the 17thcentury and at other times has been a coffee house and a cider house. In 1789Jane Walford of Over Stowey was sent by her husband to buy cider at the Castle of Comfort and later her body was found on Dodington Common- having been murdered by her husband. I remembered seeing the Gibbet in the road behind the hotel on the way to Dead Woman’s Ditch.
Coleridge and Wordsworth lived nearby and Dorothy Wordsworth mentions calling in for refreshment at the Castle of Comfort on their walk to Lynton. That really is some walk and makes me want to read her diaries.
The food was excellent from the first bon bouche to the last chocolate with a decaf and liqueur (excellent for the digestion). The lady who greeted us was Carol who does the cooking. She is a gifted chef and really understands how to make food delicious and satisfying without causing any discomfort.
Only one small disaster. Whilst eating my steak in a delicious red jus I missed spearing a mange tout and was splattered with the jus all over my pristine white top. The ambience was such that I didn’t feel at all embarrassed and we all admired the startling sun burst effect it had made. In the end we agreed it would be better to go and change and happily I can report that my top is pristine once more thanks to lots of cold water soaking and Vanish.
It was a short but sweet break; we would definitely go there again and feel fortunate to have such a place within easy driving distance. The next day we went to Taunton and bought a hat and shoes for me and a shirt and silk tie for MTL. We have our step- grandson’s wedding in July. Yippee!
Castle of Comfort