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Winter walks, fresh flapjacks and Radio 3: a simple way of life at The Painswick

It’s a Monday morning, and while others are sat at their desks doing the same old 9-5, I’m fortunate enough to be off on a Bridget Jones-style mini break in the Cotswolds. I’ve never been before, but I can’t wait to get snapping buttery-coloured buildings and sit by an open fire with a glass of red wine.

We pull up in Bibury, having fought with other tourist BMWs to get a parking spot – don’t judge my sister in a Skoda, she is fierce. Bibury is everything I imagined and more: there’s a post office that sells postcards and fudge, ducks waddle over quaint wooden bridges, and autumn leaves cascade down pretty cottages with uneven roofs. I dream of what it would be like to live here: a simple life where I can have my own vegetable patch and chat to Cedric next door about what a scandal it was that Margaret’s turnip wasn’t picked as ‘best in show’ at the local village fête. Outrageous. But then I notice all the tourists (me included) taking pictures of the cottages and remember that I always forget to close the curtains when I’m getting dressed. Maybe it’s not the simple life I desire after all.

I forget that it’s winter and the sun only rises for practically 2 hours a day, so by 4pm it’s dark and we haven’t even made it to our destination yet. Although it’s only a half an hour drive to The Painswick, it’s so dark that we manage to get lost down country tracks and at one point my sister even drives over a village green. After a daunting ascent up a road with a 45° angle, we arrive at the welcoming sight of The Painswick.

As we go inside the typical Cotswolds hotel, we’re hit with the thick, smoky smell of a wood-burning fire. With only 16 bedrooms, The Painswick feels more like a luxurious B&B than a large, corporate hotel. Our room ‘Griffin Mill’ is the epitome of cosy. There’s a hot water bottle lying on top of a gold, herringbone wool blanket. We’ve been left homemade flapjacks from the chef, there are giant square pillows embroidered with the letter ‘P’ and Radio 3 is playing Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending. We boil the kettle so we can sit down, have a cup of tea, and take it all in.

What to do first: have a bath? Read my book by the fire? Order a glass of Malbec to my room? It was just all so inviting! I run a bath while admiring the pencils-come-paintbrushes that are left on your bedside table (in case you want to do a sketch and then a watercolour, because that’s what you do while on a mini break in the Cotswolds).

After a solid 30 minutes of post-bath-and-nap selfie-taking, we head down to the lounge to sample ‘Merry Mondays’: half-price cocktails until 8pm. We peruse the dinner menu (one of my favourite pastimes) and nearly choke on our Pornstar Martinis as we spot ‘beef wellington with buttered greens and dauphinoise potatoes’. Oh, the delight of a chunk of meat wrapped in pastry!

Previously a vicarage, the restaurant – once a Parish room, is beautifully snug with original features such as arched window frames and tiny wooden doors perfect for escaping a tiresome Sunday School session. It’s warm and inviting with rustic hessian napkins, studded leather chairs and sturdy, solid wood furniture. My sister and I note how nice it is that all the furniture is matching. We’re so bored of this strange mis-matching furniture fashion.

We decide to share an ox cheek ravioli with beetroot and a grilled octopus to start. Formerly beetroot’s arch enemy, I apprehensively try the roasted delicacy, preparing myself for the worst. Whether it was the Guinness reduction, or the sprinkling of parmesan, the earthy root vegetable seemed to melt in my mouth in wholesome goodness, and I instantly retract any hatred I ever had towards the purple produce. The dinner was faultless and we finish off (as we always do) with a fresh mint tea.

It’s the details at The Painswick that make it so special. Local walking routes have been written, rolled up and stuffed in pigeon-holes for you to choose from. Whether it’s a 1 mile, 5 mile or 10 mile walk you’re looking for, they all start from the door of The Painswick. And don’t worry if you’ve only got leather loafers or white trainers with you, there are welly boots in every size to borrow.

We’re suffering from post-breakfast blues as we pack our bags. It’s not just the luxury of fresh linen or the delicious madeleines in our room that we’ll miss. It’s The Painswick’s all-consuming sensation of total relaxation. Walking the Cotswold Way, sketching the view, sipping tea while reading the next chapter of our page-turning novel: a slow way of life that all of us crave and few seem to achieve.

When we return home we light a fire, sit under blankets and read our books. No phones or TV, only green tea and my sister’s company. We’re one step closer to that simple life we all desperately want, and that’s thanks to The Painswick.

 

 

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Laura Ashley The Tea Room at the Burnham Beeches Hotel

It’s one of those Autumn days where you’re not sure whether you need an umbrella, SPF or a pair of highly-insulated snow boots. We take a risk and drive to Burnham Beeches in the hope of going on an instagram-worthy autumn walk. As we drive down the country lanes, the sun decides to poke its weary head out of the looming clouds just at the moment we pass the Burnham Beeches Hotel.

“There it is! There it is!” my mum and I squeal in excitement, simultaneously regretting having such a big breakfast this morning. We’re off for afternoon tea in the new Laura Ashley tea room* and I’m mainly excited because not once in my 26 years on this earth have I been out for afternoon tea with my mum.

We drive down leafy lanes named ‘Pumpkin Hill’ and ‘Dove House Crescent’ and I feel like I’m in an American musical; any minute now my mum will burst into song about cake and tea and how ‘she longs to visit England in the fall’.

We arrive at Burnham Beeches, a scenic nature reserve populated with dog-walkers, bike-riders and instagrammers. Optimistically I jump out the car shoving my walking boots on and preparing for a hefty hike through the woodland (gotta make room for the cake). The beech trees are spectacular and as the breeze blows through the trees, tiny yellow leaves twinkle back and forth, reminiscent of a disco ball in a night club.

I actually felt more worthy of a visit to the Burnham Beeches hotel now knowing what the Burnham Beeches were and I was ready to have all the finger sandwiches and posh slices of cake.

We’re greeted by Fernando, the Deputy Manager of the hotel, who leads us to what he calls ‘his baby’: the brand new Laura Ashley tea room. It’s a muted pink with a dark wood floor, glass chandeliers and pristine white table cloths. We’re seated next to a sash window overlooking the front lawn. We order tea and prosecco, my two favourite liquids.

As we’re admiring the Laura Ashley teapots on display in a dresser, we’re presented with a tiny chocolate bonfire! Chocolate truffle logs, matchstick biscuits and white chocolate flames make up the sweetest novelty amuse bouche I’ve ever had the good fortune to eat. As a savoury gal, however, I can’t stop thinking about the egg and cress brioche buns that are about to grace our table. I practically salivate over Fernando, poor bloke, as he brings over a three-tiered cake stand adorned with scones, tarts, delices and bavaroises. The scones are light, the sandwiches fresh and the rose bavaroise fluffy.

I think my biggest flaw as a human being is my stomach. It’s just not big enough. I desperately want to taste a tiny rosemary and pumpkin cake, but for fear of being sick in my mum’s Skoda I refrain from trying it and just stare at it instead, wide-eyed and longingly. I somehow manage to finish my prosecco though, why don’t we ever get full of wine? One of life’s great mysteries.

Without hesitation Fernando offers to box-up the rest of our sweet treats and I contemplate how I’m going to hide the box from my dad when I get home.

Usually I find with an afternoon tea, there’s an element missing. The tea’s cold or the service is slow, but not at the Burnham Beeches Hotel. The room is warm, the service was outstanding and the food, faultless.

I leave feeling happy and full. Stuffed like a turkey and unable to eat another morsel. That is, until I get home and polish off another scone and an apple and cinnamon tart.

*This afternoon tea was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for more details.

 

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A rib ride, rooftop hot pools and a 360° sea view: Solent Forts

When you book a minibreak, what do you look for? A nice hotel, with plush interiors and good food, maybe by the sea? Well, what about in the sea? Like in the middle of the actual Solent, slap-bang-you-have-to-get-a-boat-there-in-the-middle-of-the-bloody-sea. Solent Forts* are a small collection of well, forts, plonked in the middle of the sea by Prime Minister Lord Henry Palmerston (probs not ‘plonked’… it’s probs really hard to build in the middle of the sea). Built initially as a means of defence, they’ve now been transformed to luxury hotels offering a uniquely unparalleled sea-life experience. 

Myself and the crew of other bloggers (see what I did there) hop on the exclusive Solent Forts‘ rib, life jackets strapped firmly round our shoulders and between our legs (this is a very important and necessary safety precaution – thanks very much lovely skipper Griff). I choose the seat at the back which was stupid because having washed my hair, completed my make-up to goddess-standard, and worn a CREAM jumpsuit (why, God, why?!), I didn’t expect the rib-ride to be quite as thrilling as it was. To say that I sailed along with ‘the wind in my hair’ was an understatement. Put it this way I had crabs legit land in my lap (this might be a lie), but, I tell you what, I absolutely loved it! Have you even been on a boat if you don’t get splashed in the face? I probably should’ve expected seeing as I’d looked up where the forts were on Google Maps that morning *eye roll emoji*.

I arrived at Spitbank Fort like I’d entered a wet t-shirt competition, and I welcomed a glass of champagne from the hotel staff like I’d won the thing. I. Was. Buzzing. 

Spitbank Fort is a delight. The entire interior is exposed brickwork with blankets, cushions, candles, globes and compasses adorning every surface. So much care has gone into furnishing it while taking into account it’s historical context – it feels like the French will invade at any moment (but preferably after my three-course meal and glass of Laurent Perrier thank you very much). The original hammock hooks where the soldiers would’ve slept still poke out from the walls, as do the sinks in which the officers used to wash. 

The views from the roof of Spitbank Fort are spectacular and literally every room has a sea view. I just kept thinking how cool it would be to hire the whole fort for a weekend and come with a massive group of friends. But before I got too excited planning my decadent sea-party (maybe it could have a PIRATE theme?!), we were back on the rib and off to fort number two. 

No Man’s Fort is much bigger and feels much more like a  traditional ‘hotel’. There’s 5 different bars on the fort, various eateries, a huge lounge, a games room, a spa and 23 bedrooms, but it only takes a glance out a window to remind you that you’re staying aboard a secluded, historical structure with no neighbours to worry about – just maybe some fish. 

Visiting Solent Forts is an experience. You have the rich past of the forts for those that like history, hot pools on the roof for those that want to chill, and there’s even a laser battle experience in the basement for those that like running around pretending to shoot each other. It’s the perfect location to ‘get away from it all’ and spend a couple of nights at sea, with the luxury of hopping back on a boat and travelling back to the mainland (unlike the soldiers who would’ve been posted there!). And if your bank balance isn’t keen on staying on one of the forts, why not do a day experience? You can have an afternoon tea, a Sunday lunch, or you can even pop over and get your nails done – FUN. 

How good would it be going into work on a Monday morning and enduring the forever dull ‘How was your weekend?’ question: ‘yeah it was great thanks Julie hun, stayed on a fort in the middle of the sea, had a banging three-course meal, and came back on a boat with a crab in my lap’. Just saying. 

 

You can book a stay or experience with Solent Forts by clicking here. Use my exclusive discount code EMMAJO10 for 10% off. 

 

*This day was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

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A perfect Paris stay: Hotel Adèle et Jules

Sweaty, tired and hungry, I scramble off the Eurostar and into the cosmopolitan jungle of the Gare du Nord. There’s a whiff of coffee and pastries in the air and signs are plastered everywhere instructing you not to get in a fake taxi (sounds dodge whatever it is). Amidst the chaos I head for the sortie – suitcase, sunhat and boyfriend in tow. Once out and onto the streets of Paris, we decide to walk to Hotel Adèle et Jules*. It’s only 15 minutes away, and although our backs are already dripping in the 36 degree heat, we’d rather that than struggle on the metro where there’s a 90% chance our camera/phones/sunhats will be stolen (not the sunhats!).

As we get closer, the streets turn quieter, the air seems cleaner, and the buildings are prettier. It’s hard to believe you’re moments away from the hustle and bustle of the Gare du Nord. Just around the corner from Bouillon Chartier and tucked down a side street, we find Hotel Adèle et Jules. The cobbled street is tree-lined, tranquil and traditionally Parisian. It’s a welcome moment of peace amid the frantic French streets, and we both breathe a sigh of relief. We’re offered a tea or coffee as soon as we walk in (Mum, is that you?) and we await our room in the cosy, but quirky living room.

Having struggled across Paris with our luggage, we are relieved to be shown to our room: a Boulevard Club complete with wrought iron balcony. The bed is huge, the pillows are perfect, and the air-conditioning is a godsend. I start snapping while my boyfriend enjoys a complimentary coffee on the balcony, then the bed, then the sofa (one must try all the furniture in one’s hotel room). Leaning out of the balcony I imagine I’m in a film by Jean-Luc Godard: my hair wafting effortlessly in the wind as I elegantly sip on a glass of vin rouge dancing to Edith Piaf – until bam – I stub my toe on a plant pot and I’m back to reality. I wake my snoring boyfriend and clip my toenails (did Brigitte Bardot do this?).

Hotel Adèle et Jules has everything you need for a weekend stay. There’s a simple but delicious continental breakfast, complimentary afternoon tea and an honesty bar downstairs in the evening. It’s perfect if you like a hotel away from the main drag, but minutes from the main attractions. The décor is sophisticated and stylish with a modern French twist and you will undoubtedly get a good night’s sleep (not likely if you pick a hotel along the Champs Elysées). Although important to see the sights, Paris is a city for pausing: grab some bread and cheese and take it all in while sat on your balcony – just try not to stub your toe.

*This stay was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

 

 

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Room2 Hometel: a home from home

I don’t stay in hotels that often. The main reason for that is the cost of eating out. Don’t get me wrong, I love a slap-up meal as much as the next person, but when you’re eating scallops and steak every night, my lorrrrd does it cost a fortune. Staying in a hotel is a glorious experience for a night or two, but I find if you’re there any longer, I’m desperate for an apple and my bank balance is dead. But that’s the beauty of Room2 Hometel: every room has a kitchenette so you have the luxury of a gorgeous hotel and the comfort of your own home!

Although slightly odd staying in a hotel 30 seconds down the road from your flat (why not lol), Room2 gave me a completely different view of Southampton. My Master Loft room* overlooked the park, making me feel as if I was hanging out on a leafy street in New York. The huge windows flooded the room with evening light as I cooked a courgette and garlic spaghetti dish for dinner (peng), and it was super chilled sitting on the cobalt sofa watching the world go by while my spaghetti bubbled away. The rooms are huge, the bed linen soft and the bathroom spotless. It’s like being at home with a touch more luxury.

Perfect for a business trip away, Room2 is ideal for those that cba to sit in a restaurant with 100 other business men and eat a curry on their own. It is ideal for culinary wizards who enjoy cooking while travelling. The Master Loft room even had a mezzanine level with an extra double bed so it easily sleeps 4. I’m thinking girls weekend away – amiright?

It’s the added touches that make Room2 feel so unique: a recipe book on the kitchen counter, the slogan mugs hanging above the sink, the Southampton postcards on a pin board. These are the details that make your room feel more like a home than a budget hotel. After all, home really is a feeling. 

*This hotel stay was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

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Christchurch Harbour Hotel: seaweed, sea breeze and salt scrub

There is something glorious about sitting in a fluffy white robe, eating a mango and avocado salad and having mud rubbed into your scalp by a stranger. Theresa May should actually make it an official, annual public holiday thang: ‘Spa Day’ (lol obvious). I’m sure the general population would be much happier.

Spa days are magical occasions aren’t they? And they’re even more magical when along with all of the above, you add a sea breeeeze. The Christchurch Harbour Hotel is perched right on the water so you can practically paddle a canoe out to sea from your bedroom window (how fun!). But why would you want to go to all that effort when you can laze around in the HarSpa hideaway* watching the Harbour Hotel world go by?

A relaxing back pamper is a must. First, you’re smothered in an exfoliating HarSpa Lime and Lemongrass scrub which gently exfoliates your back (and feet btw, I think I frightened my masseuse I was so ticklish). Then warming aromatherapy oils are used to settle you in to an hour long massage. It is divine, and you leave the treatment room feeling as if you’re floating.

Of course the pool, sauna, steam and salt rooms are wonderful, but what really makes the Christchurch Harbour Hotel stand out is the beautiful hideaway area. Its luxury lounging furniture looks out over the water and it’s shaded beneath the trees. You could happily while away the day reading a good novel in the dappled light.

This was my first ever proper blogger lunch** so I nearly squealed in delight when I saw the beautiful table decorated by the wonderful Some Kind of Lovely Events. Seashells, wild grasses and HarSpa candles made the occasion extra special, and don’t even get me started on the lunch. Chickpea and edamame salad, tuna and mango salad, quinoa and carrot salad, beetroot and berry smoothie, cacao and avocado mousse and crispy seaweed. I. Am. Salivating.

When it was all over I genuinely felt like a new woman: refreshed, revitalised, reborn etc. All I wanted to do was take a tiny bit of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel with me. And no, I didn’t steal a coconut like at the last press event I went to… (I’d had a couple of wines). The HarSpa products are perfect for a ‘spa at home’. I’ve honestly been sitting at work with Purity Eye Patches on and a Sweet Fig Bay handcream in my handbag.

Whether you want a coastal break away, or a pamper session at home, the Christchurch HarSpa is the one. Christchurch is the perfect location to get away from it all, and you’ll soon forget your worries when you smell that sweet sea breeze combined with the Marine Salt Scrub.

 

*N.B. This hideaway = VERY different to the Love Island hideaway.

**This Spa Day was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

 

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24 hours offline (at Glamping the Wight Way)

Living life online is overwhelming, stressful and all-consuming.

Writing a blog, replying to emails, maintaining a beautiful Instagram grid, continuously posting stories, interacting with others on Twitter – arrrghhhhhh! Even writing it all down makes me feel tired. It is HARD WORK. Especially when you’re told that to ‘grow’, you need to (constantly) ‘sell yourself’.

You know you need to take some time offline when you’ve been scrolling through your camera roll for 1hr 45mins desperately looking for a picture to instagram. And that’s exactly what I decided to do. I was sat on my bed, in a moment of complete digital dismay, when I realised I needed to stop. I frantically started googling ‘where in the world has the least phone signal’ and then ‘how to get to the Isle of Wight’ and then ‘Glamping on the Isle of Wight’ and I found Glamping the Wight Way!

The tagline on their website was ‘Bubbles, Blankets & Birdsong. Connect with the Natural World for a while’. I nearly hopped on the boat straight away.

So off I went to Glamping the Wight Way, ready for a digital detox and a weekend away immersing myself in nature. It is the PERFECT place to chill out and forget about your Twitter notifications. Right by the River Yar near Yarmouth, it is completely rural. You drive down a little farm track lined with cowslip and pull over to find 4 beautiful safari tents at the top of a slope with beautiful views across the fields. It’s almost completely off-grid, you have to heat the tent and the water with a little log burner and there’s the odd solar lamp but no street lights! It’s all about toasting marshmallows on a fire pit, boiling a kettle on a gas stove, and playing cards while wrapped in a blanket.

At 4 o’clock I turned my phone off (timed so that my boyfriend could watch Man U kick off at 4pm the next day *eye roll emoji*) and let out a huge sigh of relief.

This is what I learnt:

I don’t NEED my phone on me 24/7

It’s surprising how much you don’t NEED your phone in a day. Really the only desperate NEED for it is in an emergency. I don’t NEED to post on my instagram story or check my Facebook messages, but we think we do, cause we’ve all acquired such bad habits! No messages or calls came through in the 24 hours that I NEEDED to read… so maybe I don’t need my phone as much as I think I do?

My ‘checking my emails obsession’ is ridiculous 

No one, NO ONE is going to email you an amazing opportunity at the weekend. Anyone worthy of an ‘exciting email’ is going to be living their life at the weekend and not sat their worrying about whether you’ll take up their offer of a free phone case for 6 instagram posts.

I spend more time talking and not sat in silence 

Normally when my boyfriend and I go to bed, we spend around half an hour to an hour sitting on our phones, looking at nothing, sat in silence. Am I going to remember this moment when I die? No. Am I going to remember a meaningful conversation about his favourite cheese? Yes.

I didn’t miss out on much 

‘OMG but what if a MAJOR news story breaks?!’ – then you’ll find out tomorrow. ‘But what if @instagramuser does an AMAZING instagram?!’ – you’ll see it tomorrow. ‘YEAH but what if ALIENS invade the planet and EAT my cat’ – bit weird, but you’ll find out tomorrow.

All that happened was Caroline Flack got engaged and a linen jacket I wanted from Mango came back in stock.

I even texted my mum at 3.59 on Saturday saying ‘HI MUM, just a reminder that I’m going offline for 24 hours! Don’t miss me too much, love you!’ and she DIDN’T EVEN REPLY.

I felt less stressed and much more relaxed 

It was so nice not worrying about other people having ‘more fun’ than me. I just tried to focus on having fun myself and not taking a ‘boomerang cheers’ for everyone else to see on the ‘gram. (‘LOOK GUYS, I’M HAVING FUN’). In the constant chaos that is life, it became one thing less to worry about.

The whole experience was a real weight off my shoulders for 24 hours and I actually loved it. That’s not to say I’m going to be offline 24/7 – how can we be in this day and age? But I’m certainly going to make a concerted effort to put my phone down, observe the world around me, listen to peoples’ conversations and just have a nice life – instead of worrying about how to portray my ‘nice life’.*

*The irony is… here is now a portrayal of my ‘nice life’ at Glamping the Wight Way haaaa. Obvs these photos were taken while we were there, but all the editing, uploading and writing of this blog was done after my time offline!

 

Outfit details

Mango crochet top £19.99

Mango knitted skirt £35.99

Birkenstock Arizona sandals £59.99

 

 

 

 

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A festive weekend at The Hoxton, Shoreditch

London in the Winter can be a right old sweat. Rushing in the rain to catch the next tube, ripping off layer after layer for fear of over-heating and then two stops later, putting layer after layer back on for fear of freezing to death outside.

But the minute I got to The Hoxton, Shoreditch, I instantly felt relaxed. The atmosphere is cool and chilled-out due to the bare concrete architecture and open-plan lobby complete with velvet Chesterfields, naked light bulbs and wire bookcases lined with novels.  The huge roaring fires are so inviting, it’s impossible not to drop all your bags, sink into an armchair and stay for the week. We settled down into a cosy red leather, diner-style booth and devoured a Mac and Cheese (much needed after a strenuous journey).

Our room was funky and modern with a beautiful 60s style desk complete with branded mugs and (my fave) a Roberts Radio! Ngl, we spent most of the first afternoon just chilling in the room (so lethargic after my Mac and Cheese, plus it probs didn’t help that I’d had my Christmas party the night before…). And anyway, why would you leave a room that has unlimited tea bags, pillows made from clouds and Chill fm’s soothing mix of Massive Attack and Sigur Ros (srsly tho, is this a real radio station?).

We’d decided to stay in The Hoxton, Shoreditch for two reasons:

  1. Because we were going to see a play in the evening called The Ferryman. (If you know me, you’ll know I LOVE theatre, and this was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen, hands down)
  2. Because one of my life’s hopes, dreams and ambitions has always been to go to Columbia Road Flower Market. Ohhh the hours I’ve pondered over tulips, freesias and tiny, delicate cyclamen! And as luck would have it, it was just round the corner! (lol jk this was in the plan)

Finally, my day had come.

And on that day, those 24 hours that I’d chosen, one tiny little day out of 365, it decided to bloody tip it down.

But I REFUSED to let that stop me. This was my big flower market day! (huge shout out to my boyfriend at this point who stumbled after me in the torrential rain taking blogger pics while simultaneously trying to prevent our precious new lens from getting wet lol – what a gem)

Beyond the forest of Christmas trees (not quite a forest, more cut down and popped through one of those netting machines like a french sausage) were festive displays of red berries, eucalyptus stalks, pussy willow and poinsettias all shining out in glorious, wet, Christmassy joy!

It. Was. Wonderful.

I couldn’t leave without buying a seasonal bunch myself, despite knowing it would only cause me more chaos come the rain rush, layers on, layers off, sweaty tube chaos debacle. If only there was another Hoxton Shoreditch to greet me with an open fire and Mac and Cheese when I got home!

 

Outfit details:

Zara mohair jumper £39.99 (similar)

Zara red round bag £39.99 (similar)

Mango red slingback shoes £59.99 

Hollister white turtle neck £4.99

Urban Outfitters jeans £50.00 

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Pork Crackling and Apple Sauce at The Pig, Brockenhurst

It’s hard not to feel autumnal as you walk up the gravel track among the firs and the conifers, pine cones scattered over the dewy lawn. Despite me getting overexcited at a sign for the ‘Kitchen Garden’, it is FREEZING, and the smell of a woodburning fire entices us indoors, enveloping us in warmth.

The Pig in Brockenhurst is a small hotel with a focus on food. Nearly everything on the menu is grown on site or foraged-for nearby, so whether it comes from the forest or the coast, you know it’s as fresh as possible.

The interior is traditional with an informal twist. Boars’ heads frame the walls and colourful crystal glasses are lined up on antique dressers, but the menus tied up in garden string and napkin rings made from newspaper make for a ‘homemade’ feel. The sun-filled conservatory with bright, mis-matching floor tiles covered in potted plants is reminiscent of my Grandpa’s potting shed, though probably a bit more elegant.

But the real reason behind The Pig’s popularity, is the food. Their 25 mile menu (the idea being that most of the produce comes from within a 25 mile radius) boasts lamb and pork from Romsey, fresh Lymington crab and tomatoes from the Isle of Wight. All the herbs and most of the veg come straight from the Kitchen Garden, hence one section of the menu being called ‘Mostly Picked This Morning’. Try the curried cauliflower and Brocks Eggs – you won’t be disappointed – and whatever you do, don’t leave The Pig without trying some pork, or at least some crackling and apple sauce! The ‘Tomahawk’ pork chop is so flavoursome and you can mop up the sauce with a chunk of warm bread and Garden Herb-Infused Oil.

The Pig manages to combine simple, natural ingredients with an elegant, quirky touch that leaves your tastebuds tingling for hours. If, like me, you dream of roasting parsnips and boiling beetroot fresh from your vegetable patch, head to The Pig for inspiration. And while you’re at it, grab an armchair in front of the fire, and order yourself some ‘Piggy Bits’ (how do you expect me to dream about my Kitchen Garden, when I haven’t even tried  the pea and ham hummus yet?!).

 

 

 

Outfit details:

ZARA checked dress – £29.99

ACCESSORIZE black wool beret – £12

PRIMARK black wooden heel boots – £20 (similar ones from Office if you click this link!) 

 

 

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