Countryside

Long weekends and Birthday picnics

Hello everyone, how are you all?

It’s been a busy few months for me so last weekend was a welcome break from the craziness of day to day life as we tootled off in our VW Beetle to celebrate my 29th birthday.

This year we took a visit to the beautiful Ettington Park Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, a hotel steeped in history and possibly some horror (which excites me) which is situated just 6 miles from the town in the beautiful Stour Valley. This beautiful Neo-gothic manor is set within beautiful grounds that play home to a church and some stunning gardens and even has the River Stour running through the estate. The house is currently leased to Hand Picked Hotels by the Shirleys, one of Warwickshire’s oldest families whose lineage can be traced back over a thousand years.

If you’re looking for a relaxing get away like us, or even just a place for lunch then it comes highly recommended on both counts (by me). We arrived early afternoon on Thursday (the day before my birthday) and were greeted by a lovely lady at reception; since we are currently in the ‘time of Covid-19’ things were a little different meaning social distancing was in place, our temperatures were taken and we were asked if we had any symptoms (so you needn’t worry on visiting as the staff have everything in hand and are even equip with masks when serving you).

Whilst we waited for our room we stretched out legs exploring our garden for the night and explored the grounds whilst also getting used to the house. The nicest thing for us was how quiet and empty it felt outside, there were other guests but the vast size of the property meant we felt completely safe, secluded and it allowed us to spend some much needed relaxing time away from the cottage and work.

Onto the picnic

For lunch the hotel had put together the most adorable little picnic for us to enjoy on the lawn, this featured a pretty hamper full of goodies for us to enjoy and they were even happy to accommodate my lactose intolerance.

Enjoying afternoon tea on the lawn

It was one of the most beautiful picnics we had ever had with such an abundance of choice, it even had pink lemonade and tea. Perfect.

After the picnic we headed back inside and took our first peek at our room. The hotel had set us up in one of the best rooms which overlooked the gardens, you can see it in the picture above, it is the first floor window on the far right of the main building – magnificent!

As you can see in the picture above we had an incredible room with three TVs (and yes we tried them all). One of these was in the bathroom over the bath which made me giggle, has anyone actually got a TV in their bathroom? I never feel I spend long enough in the bath to even read my book, let alone a movie, I’ll share a picture of this below. It’s the ultimate luxury…

TV in the bathroom

That evening we took a dip in the pool which we’d booked previously at reception and had a full hour together swimming about and bubbling away in the spa pool. It was incredible just being with Jon and no one else for a change, I suppose it’s one of the very few perks of Covid-19; always one to look on the bright side.

After a dip in the pool we went on a private tour of the hotel with Olli the Wedding Coordinator (don’t get any ideas just yet). Olli told us about the history of the hotel and showed us some of the wedgewood features, the paintings and height measurements from the original family that dated back to the 17th century. We also went on a little hunt for the Catholic priest holes hidden across the house, the most incredible being in the reception which we had no idea about until then. When you visit, make sure to ask about it. It’s pretty incredible and takes the individual all the way to the church on the grounds.

After our wonderful tour we headed off to the bar where we were greeted by such a character, we never caught his name but he was excellent, funny and brought us a bucket of ice and wine – so we instantly liked him! That evening (phone free) we enjoyed an incredible dinner in the hotel’s dining room.

The church

The next day… MY BIRTHDAY

I for some reason feel incredibly old at 29… so goodness knows what will happen next year! However being woken up to the smell of fresh peppermint tea was a delight and we had our wonderful breakfast in the window of our room. An even better surprise was one of my best friends Natalie sending a bottle of pink champagne with breakfast making the start to my day that little bit ‘extra’.

Birthday breakfast

The sign of a great hotel is an excellent breakfast and the team did not disappoint. Sourdough toast with avocados and poached eggs welcomed me alongside a bowl of fresh hedgerow berries.

An excellent start to a birthday!

Just perfect

I would just like to say a huge thank you to Holly, Elizabeth and the team for making my stay so perfect. It really was one of the nicest and best hotels we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting and will look forward to visiting again in the near future. X

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