How the other half(ling) lives!
In the midst of a heatwave, there aren’t many better places to be than under the cool canopy of a forest, so we were delighted to get the chance to visit the woodland site of West Stow Pods in Suffolk and take refuge under the towering trees for a few searing hot summer days.
We were even more excited to be sampling a stay at the newest addition to their site, Pod Hollow – a rather special hobbit house, faithfully reproduced with great love and attention to detail.
West Stow Pods is a family-run glamping site only four miles or so from Bury St Edmunds, but wonderfully rural and serene. We were greeted on arrival by Jan, who along with his wife Ed, runs this magical little retreat which, as well as the brand new hobbit house, also offers charming secluded wooden glamping pods and a woodland lodge.
Jan showed us along the winding path to Pod Hollow, and already it felt like magic was in the air as we passed alongside a rather special tree with a wonderful story to tell. This truly mesmerising old Scots Pine is one of West Stow’s oldest residents, with a tangle of roots growing up out of the ground in spectacular fashion.
We discovered that these roots are known locally as Peter Pan Roots, as the author J.M. Barrie is said to have visited the West Stow school house nearby way back in the 1890s. He happened upon the tree on a walk through the woods, which led to it becoming the inspiration for an illustration in the first edition of Peter Pan!
Pod Hollow revealed itself as we made our way past the Scots Pine to the front gate, and made an immediate impression – like walking right into Hobbiton. The quaint gated garden adorned with various ornaments and a rustic water pump, the little round windows, the colourful and very hefty circular door, and particularly the abundant wildflowers covering the entire roof of the house, spilling down the gentle grassy slope into which Pod Hollow nestled.
We were won over from the start, but wondered – did the inside of Pod Hollow live up to its utterly charming interior…?
The answer was evident as soon as we pushed open the door.
What stood out to us first was the fantastic wood-panelled curved walls, which really made it feel like an ‘authentic’ hobbit house and definitely added to the storybook charm. As we entered, we were greeted with a large round table and carved chairs, perfect for family feasts, and beyond this was the comfy living area, complete with brickwork fireplace, skylight and perfectly hobbit-worthy furniture (plus a TV and DVD player of course!).
We loved the attention to detail throughout the house with little nods to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit everywhere, from the Gandalf-esque cape and hat on the hat stand by the door, to the choice of furnishings, trinkets, books, games and DVDs. The two curved double bedrooms accessed through their arched doorways were cute, cosy and snug, and even the bathroom door was beautiful, with a stunning scenic stained glass window.
The kitchen was another surprise – hobbits love their food as we know, but this kitchen was far plusher than we expected of a halfling’s abode with all mod cons, top notch fittings, a dishwasher (hooray!) and tons of space to prepare a banquet.
We were also delighted to discover that, despite the boiling hot day outside, inside it was a perfectly ambient temperature – phew!
That evening we decided to sit outside in the enclosed front garden and have a barbecue. As Pod Hollow is dog-friendly our four-legged friend Oscar had come along too, and he enjoyed roaming around the garden exploring at his leisure whilst we whiled away the evening taking in the cooler air and relaxing to the sounds of the gentle breeze through the towering trees.
We took a little stroll around the site as the sun set, which gave the woodland an even more magical glow as the dappled sunlight filtered through the leaves. We really couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing place, and we all felt a little like children again roaming about past our bedtime! My partner also took the opportunity to don the wizards’ cape and hat for some obligatory Middle Earth posing.
After a cosy night’s sleep, we had breakfast outside in the garden again and we were all so relaxed that despite the many things to do in the area (such as the Anglo-Saxon village, the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds and lots of lovely nature reserves and walks) we lazily decided to just spend the morning right there.
In the afternoon we ventured out to Risby Barn Antiques Centre as we do love to have a mooch about amongst the weird and wonderful. We particularly loved an old model motorbike from a fairground ride, a fantastic jumbo-sized fibreglass 60s rocket lamp and the fab vintage clothing – but having no room in the car for a motorbike or a floor lamp, I opted for a vintage dress instead. Then we all popped into the onsite café and emerged with ice-creams, which on a day like that were essential!
Our last evening in hobbit heaven was spent having a lovely family meal around the big wooden table and then watching a DVD before bedtime. Of course, we opted for The Hobbit. Rude not too, don’t you think?
So, if you are looking for somewhere cute and quirky, cosy and magical, with four legged friends invited to join in the fun too, we’d definitely recommend that you visit this perfect little slice of storybook charm in the Suffolk countryside, as it won’t be a secret for long.
Find out more about West Stow Pods, and enquire to book.
Take a peek inside Pod Hollow…