Kate Freud and family descend on the Cotswolds for the weekend and find it more than lives up to their expectations
As the nights draw in, and winter descends, what could be nicer than the thought of a cosy weekend away in the Cotswolds? Determined to make this wintery fantasy happen, I booked two nights at Shipton Cottage, one of twelve holiday rentals available on the Bruern estate in Chipping Norton. We managed to flee the city early on Friday to avoid the traffic and arrived after dark at our picturesque weekend home, which was so warm and welcoming we all breathed a collective sigh of relief (before tucking into a serious wedge of lemon drizzle cake and a cuppa the owners had so kindly left for us). Not only that, we found the fridge full of local fare from sausages to fresh milk and cheese so breakfast the following morning was sorted too.
After a quick supper for the little ones and a torch-lit explore, the children were thrilled to discover we not only had a games room and playroom, but also the indoor pool which we were fortunate enough to have to ourselves for an hour before bed – the ultimate treat! The water was as warm as a bath, so once the children were showered and in their PJs they fell into bed, exhausted from all the excitement.
The next morning, after a comfortable night’s sleep we were up bright and early for a bike ride – Bruern has bikes for all different sizes – and Jago was thrilled to find a tandem he could ride with his dad. With Georgia safely tucked in her child seat on the back of my bike, and my mother perilously enjoying her first bike ride in several years, we set off to explore the local countryside, despite the bitter temperatures. After a good hour, we returned for hot chocolate before heading to Soho Farmhouse for a delicious buffet lunch, horse riding for the kids and a play in the Teeny Barn.
We headed back to Bruern, where we enjoyed another swim. I say we, but I had actually snuck off for a totally indulgent massage in the pool house, an hour of total bliss whilst my mum and Jack got the children to bed! Once safely tucked up (Bruern recommended a brilliant babysitter) we headed out for supper at Wild Thyme in Chipping Norton, a delicious restaurant serving locally sourced produce. After another good night’s sleep followed, we braved a second bike ride the following morning, another swim and then descended on The Chequers pub in Chipping Norton for a hearty roast before we all made our way back to town. Truly a perfect weekend in the English countryside.
A 2-bed cottage for a 2 night weekend starts from £850, bruern-holiday-cottages.co.uk