I spent my childhood glued to Disney films, it was one of my favourite ways to spend a weekend. My mum often told me I looked like Mowgli from the Jungle Book, I mean the resemblance is pretty uncanny. One of my other favourites was Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, mainly because they were the sort of film I wish could be a reality, my reality. I mean, swanning around a castle and acting like royalty is totally possible, right?
I tried to organise a birthday trip away with three of my favourite bloggers and closest friends to Copenhagen, but for unforeseen circumstances it couldn’t happen. My wonderful friends Angie, Emma and Binny took it upon themselves to organise a belated surprise trip for me. I knew nothing about what these three globetrotters had planned for me, but all I was told was that Angie was getting her hair done. Weeks had passed and lots of indirect questions were asked in hope to get some sort of idea of where we were going. Did any of the ladies tell me anything useful? Definitely not!
It was the night before we were due to travel and I was told by the ladies to pack a suit. A suit? Apparently we were going to Paddington to meet Paddington bear, go to McDonalds and stay in the area at a hotel. Why on earth would I need a suit? 😉
I did as I was told anyway and packed my suit and clothing for every possibility & weather condition, along with my passport, just in case. I went to bed with a world of ideas and possibilities whirling through my head. Where could we be going?
I slept soundly through the night, grabbed my suitcase and jetted off to London Bridge. I was meeting Emma, Binny and Christina for breakfast at Aqua in the Shard before departing. Angie sadly couldn’t make it until later, but was meeting us at Paddington station. We indulged in a boozy breakfast with stunning views across the concrete jungle that I now call home. I often get quite anxious when it comes to surprises, so they aren’t my favourite but I still sat and attempted to finish my breakfast knowing my girls would look after me regardless.
Arriving at Paddington station, we met with Angie and we all made our way on to the train. Not being able to look at where the destination was, I walked with my head down and jumped on the train. The deal was that the surprise would be revealed at the station, but they all enjoyed torturing me so they kept me in suspense until we arrived. We clicked our little bottles of champagne and set off on our ‘Angles’ adventure.
Arriving safely into Exeter St. Davids, I still had no clue as to what we were doing or what was planned. I was instructed that we will be having a 40 minute journey via taxi to our destination. It then clicked me that we were going to a remote destination, that would most likely be surrounded my lots of land. The taxi driver played along with the fact that we were actually going to stay at a camp site for the night and that was the big surprise…
We approached these large, prestigious black gates that led down a gravel path surrounded by well kept grass areas. I exclaimed, “are we staying at a castle?!” at which they still tried to play it off that we weren’t until we arrived to the front. “SURPRISE! We’re staying at Bovey castle!”, my jaw dropped but no words came out. I was in utter shock and awe. We were greeted by gents dressed in tweed, with caps and tall white socks on, whom helped us out of the taxi and took our luggage inside. I was sent away, whilst the ladies sorted out paper work and payments and I just kept looking up and around me… I couldn’t believe I was in a real life luxury 5-star castle, Bovey Castle!
We were taken up to our rooms, where we stopped and scoped out what character each of our rooms boasted. Each room was individual and one of a kind, different bathroom, bedroom settings along with different views. My room was opposite Angie’s and our view backed out onto the estate grounds. My room was just perfect. The theme was grey and blue, my two favourite colours with an old fashioned style bathroom. The cherry on top was blue Mulberry cushions that perched on the top of my made bed. I was in heaven!
I was also left one bottle of champagne in my room and minutes later there was a knock on my door with a lady presenting me with another chilled bottle of champagne. It was definitely going to a fun trip, that’s for sure.
After an early start, we were all rather hungry so we papped our rooms and met downstairs for a spot of lunch on the terrace. The weather was warm, which made for the perfect alfresco dining experience with views of quintessential English countryside.
Angie ordered some smoked salmon, rocket & parmesan salad and a side of bread. After all, she is the salmon queen, so I wasn’t expecting any less.
Emma ordered the scotch egg with mustard mayo and Binny ordered the SMITH’s fish ‘n’ chips with crushed peas.
I couldn’t help but try the roast chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato but the salad that Angie ordered was so tempting that I just had to get one for myself too. It’s all about the balanced meal and healthy eating these days – all in a days work for a food blogger.
After our lunch, we popped into the bar and sat down for a coffee and a proper catch up before heading up to get ready for dinner. The interiors reminded me of an old school sitting room with a large fireplace and draped curtains over the paned windows.
We decided to pop back up to Angie’s room and take the champagne bottles across and continue our catch up. One bottle later, we all ran back to our rooms to get dressed up for dinner.
I threw on my suit and bowtie before heading down to meet the girls. We had a mini photoshoot on the beautiful staircase before take our seats in the palatial dining room.
Dinner was going to be a real treat as we had snuck a preview of it earlier when we were having coffee. We had all mentally prepared ourselves for what we were going to order. We started our meal with an aperitif and as the ‘birthday boy’ I had the choice of what bubbly we ordered. Ruinart is one of my favourite champagnes, so I didn’t need to think twice for my choice.
After our bubbly, we were served up a selection of breads with salted and seaweed butter. Moving onto our starters, Angie ordered the smoked & cured South coast sea trout which was served with winter beetroot and goat’s curd.
Emma ordered the seared diver scallops, which were beautifully presented with a Oyster emulsion, pickled onions and beer battered clams.
Binny and I weren’t really a fan of the starters, so our waitress kindly suggested a vegetarian starter of beetroot salad with goat’s curd. A big thumbs up from us both and it was so nice of them to be accommodating to our needs.
For our mains, Angie was a bit worried that the poached fillet of Cornish turbot would be slightly chewy and overcooked, but it came out perfectly. A great way to surprise a guest that is unsure if it will be to her taste – another big tick for Bovey Castle. The turbot was served with shellfish cannelloni and soft herb & ruby artichoke and mussel nage.
Emma ordered the rosette of Devon lamb which was served with wild garlic, English peas and smoked ewe’s milk. It was a dish I was eyeing up when studying the menu, so it was great that Emma ordered it.
Binny and I ordered the fillet of “Dartmoor Beef Welly” which had to be shared between two people, so in true Dynamic Duo fashion we did exactly that. It was cooked to perfection and was served with a bubble and squeak croquette, truffle cauliflower gratin and truffle jus.
Dessert was a mix of warm dark chocolate fondant with fennel ice-cream and blood orange, honeycomb ice-cream and a baked rum pineapple served with coconut cake and raisins.
Our wonderful dinner experience was complete and there was one last bottle of champagne with our names on it back in Angie’s room. I had to get out of my suit and get comfy, so I threw on my nightwear and slid into Angie’s room across the hall.
After what was a very boozy evening full of antics, we hit the hay ready for our morning adventure around the grounds. We woke up feeling some what fresh after the night before and headed down for a delicious breakfast.
I ordered the Eggs Florentine and it was one then best eggs florentine i’ve ever had. The hollandaise was super silky and perfectly made.
Binny and I went off to organise a golf caddy to use across the grounds. Emma and I took in turns to drive, as Binny and Angie chose not to.
We explored the green acreage and gorgeous views of Bovey Castle. We did a bit of off roading in our caddy which meant we might have got ourselves in a bit of a predicament. It wasn’t long before that I said “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got stuck in this mud?” and the answer to that was certainly not. 🙈 I must have jinxed it as we did exactly that. We all jumped out and pushed it whilst Emma accelerated it. Still no luck, we just got sprayed with mud. I jumped into the drivers seat and jerk accelerated the caddy whilst the ladies gave it one massive push and we managed to get it to safety. We were in such relief as I quickly drove it to safer, more reliable grounds. Emma jumped back in and took us back to the castle safely.
We toured the local grounds around the castle, but it is situated on 250 acres of land. This means you have to drive between different activities on the estate, such as horse riding on to Dartmoor, off-roading in jeeps (maybe a good one for us next time!), shooting, golf and lots more. I think next time I visit Bovey castle, I definitely want to try out a few of their varied activities.
We then had time for one last alfresco lunch on the terrace, complete with my favourite creme brûlée for dessert.
It was then time to jump back into the taxi and wave goodbye to Bovey Castle. It was an incredible experience with fantastic company and amazing food. I have to thank my three Angles for organising this once in a lifetime trip and putting it together incognito for several months. Here are to more #AnglesOnTour trips in the future. Do I hear a trip to Bordeaux on the cards? 😉
Have you ever stayed in a castle before?
Until next time…