Saturday, August 02, 2014

A bit of a break

On Tuesday, we drove up to Warwickshire for a midweek hotel break. It's not unknown territory to us, being so close to where Kantara is moored, and through which we often cruise, but there are several National Trust properties in that part of the country which we'd not visited before, and the countryside's beautiful, too.

We'd booked into the Studley Castle Hotel. We subscribe to Travel Offers, a scheme under which choose from a directory of hundreds of participating hotels around the UK, and pay a fixed price for food, the room being free. We are referred to by the hoteliers as "tactical customers"! I suppose it's a way of getting custom at times when the hotel's not busy, making sure that the dining room has enough patrons to be worth cooking for, and generating some kind of revenue, albeit less than normal. We've been doing this for ten years or so now.

Studley Castle is an early 19th century country house, built not far from where there was originally a proper castle, and it still retains some of its grandeur.






The food was amazing; they'd just started a new menu, and it was the first Nouvelle Cuisine Grace and I had ever tried. 



We were there for three nights, and we spent the two days visiting four NT properties. On Wednesday, it was Snowshill Manor ("...Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade"), and Hidcote Manor Garden ("...an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds"), both of them fascinating and beautiful.

Snowshill Manor...











Hidcote Manor Garden...

Diarmuid Gavin filming a gardening programme









On Thursday, we visited Hanbury Hall ("...William and Mary-style country house, garden and park"), and Croome ("Expect the unexpected. Incredible innovation, devastating loss, remarkable survival and magnificent restoration. All in one place.") Croome is very much a project in progress, and in the early stages of renovation. There's little to see at the moment, but we intend going back in five or six years' time, to see what they make of it. It has an interesting history, and a lot of potential as a tourist attraction.

Hanbury Hall...












Croome - not much to inspire photos yet!

We came home on Friday on a complicated route via Chastleton House (which was closed to the public!) and Waddesdon Manor ("A magnificent house and grounds in the style of a 19th-century French chateau.") (which wasn't closed!)












It's an amazing place. We wandered around the grounds, had lunch there, then drove on home. The weather had been good to us, and we'd had a really good short holiday.

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