By RICHARD LATHAM
DIRECTIONS:(Satnav - TA1 1JT) M5 to junction 25, head for town centre and ground is signposted ‘market, cricket, theatre’ from second roundabout. If motorway is blocked make for the A38 to head to or from Bristol and beyond. The station is within walking distance of the ground. It takes about seven to ten minutes depending on how quickly you walk. Car parking is directly behind Press Box at St James St. entrance - plenty of spaces for County Championship matches. For one-day games it’s best to arrive at least an hour before the start to be sure of a space. Always best to book space in advance if possible. The gate men are much more friendly than in the days of Eddie "The Eagle"!
FACILITIES: The box is situated at the top of the newly named Marcus Trescothick (formerly Somerset) Pavilion and well positioned for most pitches. Three tiers of seating, comfortably accommodating 12 journalists, with an overflow option next door if needed. Flat surface for laptops and large window offering excellent view of playing area and surrounding countryside! A television (with Sky Sports) has also been provided. PA/local paper contact: Richard Latham 01275 842053, 07802 708352. Scorer: Polly Rhodes, who will help in any way she can. PR contact: Richard Walsh (07971 100418). Plenty of power sockets with easy access under work benches. Light airy box, which can be chilly on cold days. Tea and coffee making facilities are provided with hot/cold water on hand The Club provides a buffet style lunch usually comprising of sandwiches, pasty/ sausage roll and fruit.
ACCOMMODATION: The Castle Hotel (01823 272671) is highly rated by Ivo Tennant and others wealthy enough to stay there. One or two of our seasoned news hounds, including the said Tennant, have been able to negotiate special rates there, but a phone call to check prices is recommended. Blorenge House in Staplegrove Road (01823 283005), is a high quality B&B offering a large English breakfast if required. At around £35-£45 a night, including breakfast, it is said to offer excellent value.
LEISURE: The two nearest pubs are the Ring Of Bells in St James Street, which is particularly good and the Princess Royal in Canon Street just across the road from the St James Street entrance to the ground. The Malt ‘n’ Hops in Tancred St, ten minutes’ walk from the ground has a selection of real ales and an extensive lunch and dinner menu (01823 353835). To get there leave the ground at the St James St Entrance cross the road into Cannon St, turn left at the bottom and then first right. A good selection of food outlets in town centre five minutes walk from the ground. Morrisons supermarket next door to ground at River End, accessed by bridge. ‘The Wickets’ at the end of St James Street (on left on way to Debenhams) is good for snacks and sandwiches and does a daily roast for hot rolls. The Blackbrook Tavern just the other side of the M5 on the road to Ilminster is five minutes drive from the ground and has its own restaurant area and excellent carvery. Another pub/restaurant is the Hankridge Arms on the left hand side as you drive from the ground towards the M5. Look out for the Sainsburys turning off a roundabout. The Brewhouse Theatre (01823 283244) is next door to the ground and hosts plays, shows and concerts most nights of the week. The Odeon Cinema complex (0870 5050007) is on the left hand side of the road going from the ground to the M5. Somerset’s own cricket museum on the ground is worth a visit. So is the recently revamped Somerset County Museum, which is on Castle Green (just behind the Castle Hotel). Nearby golf courses – Taunton and Pickeridge GC on the Honiton Road (01823 421537), Vivary Park – in town ( 01823 289274 and Oake Manor (01823 461993) on the way to Wellington. The nearest swimming pool is situated in Station Road a short walk from the ground.