An Overnight Stay at Stobo Castle*

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Just over a week ago I took a couple of days off work, bundled into the car and journeyed down to the Scottish Borders to visit the lauded Stobo Castle. It’s a place which is special to a lot of people – most have visited for a birthday or as part of a bridal party. And honestly, I can see why.

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An hour or so outside of Edinburgh, following winding roads, Stobo couldn’t feel further away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The hotel, which is a legit castle, can be enjoyed in two ways – as a resident guest, where you get to stay over, or as a day visitor, which is perfect if you just need a couple of hours to yourself.

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We were staying over, so after checking in, and oohing at the stunning architecture, we were shown to the Lennox Room. On the first floor of the main castle, it benefitted from sweeping views over Loch Stobo, and was absolutely stunning.

A riot of chinoiserie-inspired prints and Classical prints, it was the cosiest base for a getaway you can imagine.

When we checked in we were told our treatments had been booked for the following morning, so we really got to enjoy the room for as long as possible.

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With antiques dotted around the room, it felt more like staying at a rather chic friend’s house than a hotel. After unpacking a little, we settled into the room. The beds were puffs of comfort – decked in piles of pillows and swathed in puffy duvets, they were absolute perfection.

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The ensuite was stocked with bottles of Molton Brown, which is one of my favourite brands, so I ran a hot bath, grabbed my book, and hung out in there for a bit.

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Then, after a good soak, it was time to explore the place! I knew that I would be spa-ing up in the morning, so I made full use of the stunning gym, and had a bit of a stroll about the grounds. Since other guests were also enjoying a relaxing break, I didn’t want to annoy them by swinging a camera around, but trust me, it’s beautiful!

Then it was time for dinner, which is served in the most stunning of dining rooms. Thankfully, we just had to float back upstairs afterwards, and enjoy the room some more!

A night at Stobo in a Deluxe room costs from £175pppn not including treatments (dinner, breakfast and lunch is included)

A Night at the Lowry Hotel Manchester*

Whenever I’m feeling like a bit of a change of scenery, I have a tendency to find myself down in Cheshire. They’re usually just a day away, and I always feel like I’d like to spend a little more time in the back of the woods, so, I absolutely jumped at the chance to enjoy an evening at the five star Lowry Hotel.

Perched on the banks of the river Irwell, the hotel is perfectly placed for a city break in either Salford or Manchester (or both!) and is a stylish retreat from the buzz outside. After driving down from Edinburgh, the hotel was an absolute treat to check into, and I can easily see why it’s the pick for Manchester United to spend their evenings in prior to big matches!

The hotel itself is a slick mixture of clean lines and pops of colour. The room we were shown to was a Superior Deluxe River View, which was wonderfully roomy, and had everything you could need for a cosy night away. Since we had been driving down, we ended up just staying in the room – making use of the Lowry’s absolutely stunning spa, and indulging in a bit of room service.

I also spent a good few hours in the bathroom, enjoying a long soak in the tub with a good book (I’m currently loving His Bloody Project), and getting to spend some time just enjoying myself was exactly what I needed.

The Lowry stock their bathrooms with seriously generous tubes of one of my favourites – Aromatherapy Associates! They staff were also incredibly helpful – after I burned through the entire tube of shower gel in a single bath, it was only moments until the turndown service came and restocked me with gallons of the stuff!

I also really appreciated the nod to the hotel’s namesake with the Lowry print in the bathroom. It was a cute little touch, and made the bathroom feel more personalised than some hotels I’ve been in recently.

So, after wallowing in the bath, and then padding back from the spa, still in our fluffy robes, it was time for supper, which came in the form of a room service burger (really, is there any other option?). And honestly, we were absolutely blown away by the quality of the food. I didn’t take a photo (I was super tired and absolutely starving), but only 15-20 minutes after ordering, plates of juicy burgers and crispy fries arrived, and we absolutely inhaled them! Thankfully check-out at The Lowry isn’t until 12pm, so we got to enjoy an absolutely glorious night’s sleep before padding down to check out. Still full from our midnight feast the night before, we didn’t quite make it to breakfast – but it looked delicious with a wide array of both hot and cold options.

Rooms start at £125 per night, and can be booked here

Many thanks to the Lowry Manchester for having me!

Margaret Dabbs London Salon – Alderley Edge*

For someone who lives in Edinburgh, I’ve found myself spending an increasing amount of time in Cheshire. One of my favourite of the villages is Alderley Edge, a surprisingly chic little town with the best beauty salons you could imagine!

Over the summer, a new spot appeared on the high street – the rather wonderful Margaret Dabbs has opened on of her lauded salon-come clinics, which get poor, over-worked hands and feet looking and feeling their best. With a menu which offers everything from a regular file and polish to waxing, I opted to go for one of the signature Margaret Dabbs Signature Medical Pedicures to get my feet looking perfect for the party season.

The salon itself is a stunning airy space, stocked with every Margaret Dabbs product you can imagine. It’s an absolute haven to visit, and after making the four hour trek from Edinburgh, it’s exactly where I wanted to be.

Rather than most nail salons, which smell of acetone, and can be a little hectic, Margaret Dabbs was pure perfection. Prior to be shown to my treatment room (yep, all Medical Pedicures are conducted in your own little room) I had a good nose around the salon, and fell in love with pretty much every product I played with.

There was a rainbow of nail colours to choose from, all are nail friendly, and the polishes can even be bought, in case you’re after a touch-up at home. Honestly, I could have stared at the colours for hours!

Then it was time for me to head through to one of the private treatment rooms for my Medical Pedicure. Rather than most salons, whose pedicures consist of a fruity smelling scrub and a quick buff, Margaret Dabbs are all about the feet. Your technician is a highly trained podiatrist, who can spot any issues which might be occurring, and knows exactly how to get your toes looking and feeling lovely.

The entire pedicure takes place with dry feet (no soaking at all happens), and as I sipped on a glass of prosecco, my podiatrist wielded a scalpel with surgeon-like precision. Within an hour, my feet, which had been looking less than lacklustre, were soft and smooth. My nails were filed and buffed to perfection, and I felt absolutely heavenly. Honestly, I wish there was a Margaret Dabbs salon closer to me than Alderley Edge, as I would have a standing monthly appointment if I could – it was that delightful! Until then though, I’ll just have to head down to Cheshire more often!

Margaret Dabbs’ Medical Pedicure is priced at £85 and you can see their whole list of treatments here

A Last Minute Gift Idea from Macdonald Hotels

By booking your loved one a meal at the luxury Scottish Steakhouses in the Macdonald Hotel (with a stay after) you will truly spoil them this year.

By doing this, you are offering more than a weekend away, you are offering memories to be made. Whether it’s your significant other, parents, friends or family, everyone will enjoy a stay at one of the many stunning MacDonald Hotels. The Macdonald Hotels pride themselves on first-class catering and service which can be found at The Scottish Steak Club, the onsite restaurants. Serving only the highest quality produce and finest Scottish cuisine in a contemporary setting, the restaurants work with whole raw ingredients, sourced directly from local suppliers, and the menus offer an ever-growing range of organic food and drink. The imaginative interpretations of classic Scottish cuisine can’t fail to delight diners.

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Image taken from MacDonald Website

MacDonald Hotels can be found across the UK with locations in Falkirk, Preston, Burlington, Windsor, Manchester and Oxford to name a few.

BOOK NOW!     http://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk

The Macdonald Hotel Trail

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It’s pretty much exactly at this point in the year that I start to look for places to head for long weekends, and short breaks away. I don’t know if it’s the dark nights, the cold temperatures or a mixture of the two, but I just feel like treating myself a little. I figured that you might be the same, so when I heard about a new idea with Macdonald Hotels, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

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The idea is that you can go on something of a treasure hunt throughout a number of the properties, experiencing the best of the locations you go to. I think I’d start at the Macdonald Randolph. It’s a flagship property, and boasts a spa and one of their incredible Scottish Steakhouses. Centrally located, it is the perfect base to be able to explore the town – the opportunity to soak up some culture at the Ashmolean and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

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Only about an hour from Oxford is the Macdonald Windsor hotel. Situated in a series of former townhouses, it’s the chicest spot in town. Again, the hotel boasts one of the lauded Scottish Steak Club restaurants (the fillet is meant to be beyond incredible) and is centrally located which means it’s perfect if you fancy a bit of a tour of Windsor’s sights!

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The hotel has been recently renovated, and the rooms have been transformed into gloriously decadent spots, perfect to enjoy a bit of luxury! A few minutes from the hotel is Windsor Castle (you can tour the castle in evenings until the end of December), and if you’re in the mood for something a little more heart-fluttering, the Royal Windsor Racecourse is also nearby. If you’re entertaining little-ones this Christmas, they’re the perfect excuse for a night or two away at The Macdonald Windsor – Legoland and Chessington World of Adventure are both nearby, which means they can go exhaust themselves in the parks, while you get to enjoy the hotel!

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Obviously, all good things need to come to an end, but the drive back up to Edinburgh doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom! The Macdonald Burlington is the perfect pit-stop for an overnight stay. I’ve never really gotten to explore Birmingham, but the shopping is meant to be incredible!

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The Macdonald Burlington is located right in the heart of the city-centre, so it’s amazing if you’re looking to treat yourself. Of course, all holidays have to be rounded off with a special meal, and The Scottish Steakclub is exactly where I’d be heading!

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With fresh  and sustainably sourced Scottish meat served in all of the locations, The Scottish Steak Club is the perfect sot for a smart, celebratory meal. There is a great mix of dishes on the menu, so even if you’re not in the mood for steak, you can enjoy something absolutely delicious (the burger sounds unreal!)

I can’t wait to start planning some travels!

 

 

 

Charlie Anderson artwork unveiling at The Principal Hotel, Edinburgh

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If you’ve been on George Street recently, you might have noticed a bit of a renovation going on over the past few years, as the George Hotel has been transformed into The Principal Edinburgh.

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The building is one of the city’s grandest, and the hotel spans what was once a bank, three Georgian townhouses, as well as a more modern addition to the rear. It’s an absolutely glorious building, and by far the best hotel in Edinburgh. There is even a coffee shop (Burr & Co) and restaurant (The Printing Press) onsite, meaning that if you’re lucky enough to stay in the hotel, you don’t even need to step outside, whilst still enjoying some of Edinburgh’s best spots!

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As well as getting to have something of a nose around the hotel, we had been invited for the official unveiling of a specially-commissioned artwork by British artist Charlie Anderson, to celebrate the hotel’s new look. We gathered in the bar of the Printing Press, sipping on signature vodka cocktails (Kelpies) or seriously strong Old Fashioneds whilst General Manager Andreas Maszczyk introduced Charlie and explained a little about the renovations.

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The artwork celebrates the best of Edinburgh – portraits of some of some of the city’s most prominent citizens are scattered throughout the piece, interspersed with a quotation from Sir Walter Scott. The top etching is taken from the original plan for the building (when it was still a bank) and it’s a really lovely representation of all that Edinburgh has to offer. We then heard from Charlie about the creation process and how he incorporated all of the elements of the piece together.

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Then it was time to head upstairs to have a bit of a nosey at the rooms. We were shown to one of the hotel’s Junior Suites. Overlooking George Street, we could see the sparkling lights shimmering through the curtains, but it was absolutely silent. Then, sipping on prosecco, we got to have a real look around and hear more about the hotel in general.

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The room itself is absolute perfection. Decorated in soft greys and whites, it’s exactly how I want to redecorate. With a velvet chesterfield at the bottom of the bed, and soft flannel drapes, I can’t imagine a better place to wind down.

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It was so lovely to hear Andreas talk about the hotel – the level of service and comfort that Principal Edinburgh prides itself on is seriously impressive. Every room has an old-school red phone which can pretty much grant every wish in under an hour. Whether you want to order room service or theatre tickets, it will be at your door in under 60 minutes! We were also shown all the extra little touches in the room – rather than an overpriced minibar there are complimentary tuck boxes, and the framed and wall-mounted televisions are all equipped with Netflix and the like, meaning you can sit back and enjoy a couple of episodes of your favourite shows. The hotel is now pet friendly too! Four legged guests are provided with their own beds and bowls, meaning they get as much of a treat as you do!

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The bathrooms are just as dreamy as the bedrooms too! The suite’s was an absolute confection of white marble, fitted with a glorious roll top bath and rain-fall shower. Also, they are using one of the best water softener for water softening. All the rooms in the Principal Edinburgh hotel rooms come with these showers, which sound absolutely incredible! We then got the chance to explore the Forth View Suite, which has the most wonderful views over the skyline of Edinburgh. Getting to pop outside and see the castle all lit up was incredibly special. Unsurprisingly, it’s already booked up for New Years!

Rooms at the Principal Edinburgh start at £149 per night and you can find out more here.

Dinner at The White Horse Duns Tew*

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When we headed down to the Cotswolds last month, I was on a bit of a mission to sample some seriously old-school English pubs and inns. Thankfully, Oxfordshire is packed full of them, and one of the best has to be The White Horse in Duns Tew.

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We headed over on a rather rainy night, dragging ourselves away from the wood burning fire at Bruern Cottages (more about that later) we were met with a picture perfect stone inn, complete with rooms to the rear.

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We parked in the on-site carpark, so entered through the back. After weaving through throngs of locals chatting away at the bar, we were shown to the dining area of the restaurant, and honestly, it couldn’t have been cosier. A couple of seriously chill dogs were scattered throughout the bar and in one half of the dining area, whilst the other side was reserved for two-legged patrons.

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The interior of The White Horse couldn’t have been nicer to spend a rainy evening in. Each table was lit with an adorable little gas light, whilst various lamps were scattered throughout. I adored the kitschy pictures on the wall and the decorated ceiling. It was the absolute definition of cosy.

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The menu changes daily to reflect what’s in season, so, as we pondered over our choices, I opted for a glass of prosecco. At £5 a glass I was seriously impressed at how delicious it was – dry and fruity, it was good enough for a second glass!

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After debating over a few options, we went for a bit of a surf’n’turf selection of starters. First up was a deconstructed prawn marie rose, featuring an entire pint of shrimp! It was a seriously generous portion to begin a meal with, but an absolutely delicious one!

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The prawns were obviously very fresh, tender and full of flavour. Paired with freshly baked sourdough toast and homemade mayonnaise, it was a fun take on a classic pub dish. Obviously the locals agreed, as I don’t think that there was a table who didn’t order them!

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I don’t  think I can see Chicken Liver Pate on a menu and not order it. My trip to the White Horse was no different! A huge slab of it was served alongside homemade sourdough toast and cornichons.

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The pate was incredibly rich and velvety smooth. Sprinkled with a touch of Maldon salt, I could have munched away on it all evening. The cornichon lent a vinegar-y twang which cut through pate wonderfully. For such a simple dish, it was perfectly balanced, and was wonderful with my glass of prosecco.

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When it came to mains, there was only one choice for me – Pork Belly with greens, turnip mask, homemade black pudding and a poached pear. The White Horse source all their meat and vegetables locally, and the pork was testament to their suppliers. Incredibly rich in flavour, with a crisp crackling it was perfectly juicy and tender.

fullsizeoutput_b81The homemade black pudding was absolute perfect, and gave the dish real depth. Contrasted with the sweetness of the turnip and pear, my meal had all the flavours of autumn, and I savoured every mouthful.

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When we saw that a 10oz Ribeye was on the menu, we couldn’t not order it! The freshness of the meat was apparent in both flavour and texture, and it was absolutely melt-in-the mouth. Served with a fresh green salad and freshly cooked fries, it was the perfect pub supper.

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The fries were an absolute revelation. Piping hot, crisp and salty, I stole my fair share of these to go with my pork!

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We couldn’t quite fit in dessert, but did grab a few coffees before venturing back out in the rain. Frothy perfection, I was absolutely obsessed with my very cool royal mug.

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Far too soon we were back out in the Oxfordshire countryside winding our way back to Bruern, full of the very best food that the Cotswolds has to offer.

You can find out more information about the White Horse Duns Tew here.

Sunday Lunch at The Fat Fox Watlington*

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When we were on the road trip last month, one of the things I really wanted to do, was to enjoy a traditional Sunday Roast. It’s something I never really get round to in everyday life, and once we hit the Cotswolds, I became pretty much obsessed with everything terribly English.

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fullsizeoutput_b73Happily we had been booked into The Fat Fox in Watlington. Not exactly in the Cotswolds proper, but somewhere between Oxford and London. It was an absolute joy to get to – driving through autumn foliage and exploring the countryside, we were absolutely famished by the time we got there.

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The inn is pretty much your perfect English pub – with nicknacks on the mantle, and mismatched chairs and tables, it’s the definition of cosy. Considering the temperatures were undergoing a bit of a drop, this was very much appreciated!

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We were settled into the dining room, and handed the daily menu. It was a Sunday, so of course, there was only one choice we could make! Whilst we pondered our choices of starter, we were handed a board with two still warm from the oven dough balls, along with salted butter. There were a delight – crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, you can imagine how quickly these disappeared!

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We started the meal with home-cured orange smoked salmon which was served alongside cucumber, radishes and homemade mayonnaise. Whenever I see salmon on a menu, I’m almost guaranteed to order it, and I’m so glad I did at The Fat Fox!

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The fish itself was absolutely delicious – rich and seriously flavourful. The use of orange rather than the usual lemon as the citrus element was such a surprise and really made a classic dish feel new. There were also orange segments nestled in between the salmon slices which exploded with flavour.

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When the main course was served, I couldn’t hide my delight. It was an absolutely picture perfect roast beef dinner. Our plates came absolutely straining under all the goodies: there were slices of still pink roast beef, the silky smooth celeriac puree and rich liver stuffing which I think I could easily live off, not to mention a crispy puff of a Yorkshire pudding and wonderfully crunchy roast potatoes.

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It was an absolute delight of a dish, and absolutely surpassed my ideas of what a traditional roast should be. The beef was perfection – the level was pink was ideal. It meant it was flavourful and melt in the mouth. It paired wonderfully with the stuffing, which was rich with the taste of chicken liver. I’m obsessed with celeriac normally, so the mash which was velvety in texture was my idea of heaven!

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As if the plates weren’t enough goodness, we were then brought a bowl with even more delicacies piled inside. The richest cauliflower cheese, crunchy red cabbage and buttery mashed turnip were all tucked inside, and it was the most delicious surprise! Paired with homemade Horseradish, I savoured every mouthful. You couldn’t imagine a better, more satisfying lunch.

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Every element of the lunch was perfectly balanced, and we positively rolled out back into the Oxford sunshine. I’ve been dreaming of the lunch ever since we left, and honestly, it’s worth the drive back down just to indulge again!

The Fat Fox Inn is in Watlington, Oxford and more info can be found here.

The very best of the Cotswolds*

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Getting to visit the Cotswolds last month was a bit of a dream. I’d been hankering after a visit after a couple of family friends had headed down, and hadn’t stopped talking about it. Located an easy two hours away from the centre of London, it’s a decently easy commute from the city, and it’s seriously worlds away.

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Bruern Cottage’s Cope residence was our base, and honestly, it couldn’t have been lovelier. A one bedroom cottage, with a log fireplace, and the most sublimely comfortable bed you can imagine, it was the coziest spot to spend an evening. Like all of the Bruern properties, the decoration of Cope was perfection – comfy sofas in front of the fire, led to a dining room big enough to host a dinner party. The use of antique furniture and lithographs from nearby Bruern Abby lent a dash of local history and elegance. The kitchen was equipped with all mod cons, and it was so much fun to be able to potter about, without feeling like we were stepping on anyone’s toes. Bruern have cottages which sleep up to 10 people, so if you’re planning a family getaway sometime soon, you know where to go!

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Ok, so not technically in the Cotswolds was The Fat Fox Inn in Watlington. Home of perhaps the best English Sunday Roast you can imagine, it is an absolutely picture-perfect pub and inn. Driving through the Oxfordshire countryside on a sunny afternoon was an absolute joy, and we were met by the friendliest of landlords and chefs you could wish for!

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Exposed beams, and mix and match chairs added to the sense of comfortable warmth, and it was the perfect spot to while away an afternoon. Only about an hour outside of London, if you’re looking for somewhere to head to on weekends, this is it. The menu is entirely seasonal, and makes use of the bountiful countryside, meaning all produce is local, sustainable and entirely delicious!

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Heading back into the Cotswolds, we couldn’t resist popping into The Maytime Inn. Dating back to the 17th century, I fell in love with the sandy-coloured stone and the promise of over 4o gins to choose from. We enjoyed a sunny hour in their famous beer garden, and made friends with resident pub-dog Alfie.

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Considering that Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite books from childhood, I couldn’t not make a bit of a pilgrimage to The Perch in Oxford. Not only is it an absolutely picture-perfect inn (one of England’s oldest!) but it was the venue for Lewis Carroll’s very first public reading of the book!

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There are few spots surrounding The Perch which pop up in Wonderland, so after a bit of a stroll around town, we retired indoors to sample their lunch menu. Their menu is, as you might expect, locally sourced and filled with seasonal produce. We opted for River Fowey Mussels which were plump and sweet, as well as Braised Venison Suet Pie which was basically the dreamiest take on autumnal comfort food you can imagine.

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I had heard about The Ragged Cot from a few people, so we headed over for a bit of an afternoon pick-me-up before heading back up north. Their shed was the perfect spot to enjoy a light lunch, and I just adored the cute, eclectic decor, and the food was just a delight!

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We had also heard some seriously good things about The White House located in nearby Bladon. An absolutely adorable pub, with overflowing window flowers, we opted for a hearty supper. The owners took over in 2014, and since then, they have put their heart and soul into turning it into on of the Cotswolds’ best loved gems. The food was delicious – home-cooked and freshly prepared, the fish flaked beautifully, whilst dessert was an icy dream!

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The last place we popped into was The Fox Inn in Barrington. This was the absolute definition of old-school charm. Taking our seats at a scrubbed oak table, we fell in love with the exposed stone walls and open fireplace.

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The Inn was only a couple of minutes from Bruern, and we enjoyed hearty portions of homemade Cotswolds Shepherd’s Pie. Piles of creamy mashed potato was layered with rich, succulent lamb, creating a dish which was absolutely perfect for beating the autumn chill! The menu is filled with dishes that your granny would make, but a bit better. (although don’t tell her that!)

I was so surprised to see that there were so many places to go in the Cotswolds, and I’m already planning a return jaunt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Night at Netherstowe House*

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After the next we spent in Newcastle, it was time for us to meander further south. Our final destination was the Cotswolds, but we felt it might be a bit rushed, barrelling down the M6 in a day, so we decided a stop off was necessary.Our base for the evening was Netherstowe House, a cosy spot in Staffordshire.

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The building itself is just breathtaking. A redbrick former mill house, the ivy covered walls were just beautiful, and such a welcome stop from the motorway! If you are something of a commuter, this is an absolute gem of a pitstop!

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We were shown to the Johnson room, which is classed as a Deluxe Room. Absolutely huge in size, there was ample room to stretch out, unpack a little, and generally unwind.

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The whole hotel is decorated in a cute, slightly eclectic style which falls somewhere between Laura Ashley and the Orient Express. The nods to exotic travel were so pretty, and the room was decorated with a surprising amount of antiques. As something of an art history nerd, I found this absolutely delightful, and it made the room feel so cosy!

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Kitted out with everything you could need to whittle away a few hours (including a soaking tub, and homemade cookies), we figured it was time to head downstairs and have supper.

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The Netherstowe House Dining Room was absolutely beautiful. Full of stunning original features, it was shimmering with candle light. I didn’t want to disturb the other diners by flashing a camera around, but it was really beautiful.

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We started off the evening with some freshly baked bread with butter and Maldon salt. Still warm from the oven, it was just the thing to get our mouths watering.

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After pondering the menu for a bit, we both ended up ordering the same dishes, they just sounded too good not to have, and whilst we waited we were surprised with the cutest amouse bouche. The tiniest cauliflower pakora you’ve ever seen was delicately balanced on a shot of satiny smooth cauliflower veloute. Despite it’s delicate size, it was packed with flavour – a balance of cumin and spice was the perfect winter warmer!

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We started our dinner with White Parmesan and Onion Soup (£6) which, although perhaps not the most photogenic dish in the world was a comfortingly savoury start to the meal. Absolutely filled with onion, and topped with a parmesan crisp, it was absolutely delicious!

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Between course we opted to try a sorbet to cleanse our palettes. A scoop of lemon (£4) and raspberry (£4) between us was an absolute delight. Sharp, sweet and perfectly tart, it was such a contrast from the soup.

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The main event was the 7oz Fillet Steak (£22) which came served with hand cut chips, a peppery salad and bernaise sauce. The steak was cooked medium-rare, and was wonderfully succulent, with a rich flavour and a melt-in-the-mouth consistency. It paired so well with the rich bernaise sauce and piping hot chips.

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After enjoying our meal, we positively rolled upstairs, and headed straight to bed. We slept so soundly we completely missed breakfast, but if you’re more of a morning person than I am, you can order a fully cooked meal, or choose from a Continental selection.

A night at Netherstowe House on a DB&B basis costs £195. Thank you to Netherstowe House for hosting us.

 

 

Dinner at Jesmond Dene House Hotel*

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I’m not sure about you, but when I’m on holiday, I really love to treat myself to a couple of really incredible meals. It’s such an indulgence, but honestly, sitting back, enjoying wonderful company and sampling delicious food simply cannot be beaten! I had heard wonderful things about the restaurant at Jesmond Dene House. It’s been awarded three AA Rosettes, and reviews are entirely positive, so to say we entered the dining room with high hopes is an understatement.

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The dining room itself is housed in the hotel’s former music room, and is decorated in warm tones, designed to draw the eye upwards, towards the most beautiful plasterwork. After admiring the room, and perusing the menu, we were treated to a selection of freshly baked, still warm from the oven breads. From a choice of three we opted for a slice of traditional sourdough and a sun-dried tomato brioche roll. There was a selection of butters too, and I went for the seaweed option. It’s not something I’d ever tried before, but it was absolutely delicious. Delicately flavoured, and deliciously savoury, it was the perfect way to start off the meal.

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I couldn’t resist the Chicken Liver Parfait which was served with Onion Marmalade and Toasted Brioche (£8.50). The parfait was an absolute delight – despite having a deep, rich flavour, it was whisper-light and satiny smooth. Piled on top of the freshly baked brioche toast, it was a study in comfort, and the onion marmalade was perfect for cutting through the richness. The salad which was served alongside was fresh and peppery, lending the dish another layer of complexity.

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We also couldn’t resist the Hot Smoked Salmon (£10) which was equally delicious. A mix of smoked salmon and salmon mouse, it was a such a wonderfully flavourful dish. The smoked salmon was rich in taste, with a perfect, firm texture. The mousse was flavoured with horseradish (one of my favourite flavours) which, along with the generous slices of gherkin cut through the richness of the dish. We both agreed that our expectations had already been exceeded, and they were the perfect start to the evening.

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Somewhat unusually, we both went for the same main course. You couldn’t not really. The Himalayan Salt Aged Cote de Boeuf (£35) was just too perfect not to try. Almost prehistoric in proportion, it was exactly what I was in the mood for! Served with Cafe de Paris butter alongside a garden salad and hand cut chips, it was the just the thing to enjoy on a cold, damp night.

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If you’ve not tried the Cote de Boeuf cut yet, you really must! It’s a rib steak with the bone still attached, and is the most perfectly succulent, flavourful steak you can imagine. Cooked medium rare, it was just the most wonderful supper. Crowned with a slab of mustardy Cafe de Paris butter, I could have feasted on this all evening.

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Honestly, this has to have been one of the best steaks I’ve had, probably ever. It was so tender and juicy, and the flavour was just out of this world! It was such a treat to be able to sit and really savour it.

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Along with a delicate garden salad (complete with edible petals) the Cote de Boeuf was served alongside a bowl of what could easily be the world’s most perfect hand cut chips. Served piping hot with a light sprinkling of sea salt. They were so crisp, with fluffy insides, they were an absolute joy!

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We couldn’t resist ordering a couple of desserts, and, the first to arrive was the absolutely gorgeous Lemon Meringue Pie (£8.50). It was a study in delicious contrasts – rich, buttery pastry held the most delightful sharp lemon curd. This was crowned with the most perfect swirl of meringue. Served with a refreshing quenelle of raspberry sorbet, it was a perfect way to end the meal.

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I had plumped for something a little more dramatic – the dark chocolate sphere (£10.50). I’d seen similar puddings plastered all over Instagram, and honestly, I couldn’t resist. Served a couple of beats behind the lemon meringue tart, I was a little baffled when a parade of waiters arrived table-side brandishing the gold-foiled sphere and a jug full of hot chocolate sauce.

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As the sauce was poured over the sphere, the magic really happened – the crisp outer shell simply cracked in two, revealing home made caramel ice-cream sitting on a disc of buttery shortbread. This was resting on a hunk of the most delicious caramel, as well as crisp salted peanuts.

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It was one of the most delicious and dramatic desserts I’ve ever encountered! It was such a decadent experience, and I’m it was just one surprise after another – I absolutely adored it!

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As you can probably tell, I had an absolute ball, and I have to say thank you so, so much to Jesmond Dene House for inviting me for both dinner and an overnight stay! It was a truly wonderful stay!