Friday, 12 June 2015

Review: Timbrell's Yard, Bradford on Avon

There is something about a train journey that fascinates small children. The excitement builds on the way to the station, luggage to be negotiated, tickets bought, and platforms located. And when the train pulls into the station… well, the thrill is just too much. The best train journeys with small children are short ones, however, as the novelty of the question ‘is this our stop?’ can wear off after a while.

Bristol to Bradford on Avon is about the perfect distance to go when outnumbered by two small, overexcited boys. At the end of the May half term week we headed to Wiltshire for a night away from the city. As we hopped off the train onto the platform we decided to follow our nose to the hotel, which turned out to be a very quick walk. Left and left again and we arrived at Timbrell’s Yard.

Open for just nine weeks, Timbrell’s Yard has the feel of a country pub that’s been there forever, the big sandstone facade standing straight and tall overlooking the river. Newness could be felt in the interior design, just modern enough to feel special, just traditional enough to feel in keeping with the picturesque country setting.

After a quick drink in the sunny outdoor garden (not a beer garden, exactly, more a sun trap with elegant tables and chairs, perfect for drinking beer), we were led to our room - 106 - up at the top of the hotel. No lift, but we’d travelled light-ish. The room was a big square double room in the spacious eaves, with a giant roll top bath by the windows. Nothing delights kids like exploring a hotel room, and so beds were duly bounced upon, ideas hatched (‘let’s watch TV while we’re in the bath!’), and sweet treats found in the form of a little jar full of boiled sweets and labelled (perhaps a little unnecessarily) ’eat me’.

The sun shone and so we took a little photo walk around Bradford on Avon. The church on the opposite side of the water to the hotel is a picture perfect country chapel and is open for visitors to have a peek. T announced ‘I think the king lives there’. Well, he is only four. Then, we passed chocolate box houses framed by roses in bloom, buildings dating from the mid-nineteenth century, and interesting shop signs. There isn’t a huge amount to entertain small kids in the town itself - they were rather mesmerised by the gold post box (painted to celebrate the town’s Olympic gold medal winner, Ed McKeever), and, although we were too late for the museum, we found boxes of decommissioned books outside the library on sale for just 30p each. The kids could not believe their luck - nine new books for £2.70? Cool!

Walking the path between the hotel and the river, under the railway bridge and across a meadow takes you to a giant playground with pretty good play equipment, where the boys threw themselves about for half an hour before our 6pm dinner reservation.

The dining room is bright and modern - bit industrial, bit modern antique - and the staff could not be friendlier. Both kids (with napkins tucked into jumpers) were treated so kindly, and ordered from the dedicated kids’ menu: sausages and chips for A, fish and chips for T. Aged nearly eight, A is perhaps too old for children’s menu portions now, and had to order an extra portion of chips to fill that growing tummy of his. Their food arrived at the same time as my starter, a delicious asparagus risotto with a crumbly nut topping that was the perfect combination of textures. Just as they were finishing their main courses, mine - chicken with an heirloom tomato salsa - arrived, and was so fresh and full of flavour, and worked well with my glass of hauntingly pale Provencal rose.

A large blackboard hung from the ceiling, visible to the kids from our table, listing the pudding options. The spectre of ice cream hanging over our meal did not disappoint. T picked two scoops of chocolate while A went for the salted caramel. I chose a puckeringly zingy lemon pudding with a sweet shortbread biscuit, accompanied with a glass of Riesling. It was perfection.

Bedtime loomed, and we all headed up to the bedroom. As predicted, bath time with telly is a hit, and we all hopped into our pyjamas and cwtched up in the giant, extraordinarily comfy bed to watch Britain’s Got Talent. Guess who fell asleep first? Certainly not T who was ice-creamed up to the max. Yep, me. But the boys soon settled down and we all slept well.

The next morning, we headed down for breakfast, back to that big-windowed dining room. Pastries from the Bertinet Bakery, juice, jam and fruit were laid out on a central table from which you can help yourself, whereas cooked breakfasts are ordered from the table. We went with both. T loved the scrambled eggs, I swooned over the silkiest vanilla yoghurt, while A wolfed down rashers of bacon, describing his meal as ‘epic’ and ‘legendary’. That’s some review.

Again, staff were super kind to the kids, treating them with so much respect and the boys loved ordering their own meals. Although not specifically a kid-friendly hotel (there is nothing on offer just for children, no toys or DVDs so you might need to take your own), the boys were made to feel so welcome. It didn’t go unnoticed.

Although heavy rain hammered down all morning, we headed home to Bristol feeling relaxed and happy. Timbrell’s Yard - we’ll be back.

In association with i-escape.
We received a complimentary stay and meals for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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