A Weekend In The Countryside



The weekend before last Mark and I escaped for a bit of a ‘mini-moon’, exactly two weeks after our big day. Whilst I’m so down for a honeymoon sometime in the future (we’re hoping to take most of December off and head to New Zealand), going on one straight after our wedding day wasn’t really on the cards down to work commitments (hello ‘At Home With…‘ recordings!) and Mark getting time off work. So instead we settled for a weekend break in the countryside and I have to say it was positively dreamy. We both stepped away from our phones, ate some glorious food and spent so much time outside that Mark got hayfever so bad that our day ended up revolving around him making sure he had tissues to blow his nose which basically turned into a tap. Here’s what else we got up to…


We visited Oxfordshire and ended up at a hotel pretty close to Blenheim Palace, which seemed like the right, ‘let’s soak in some culture and not go to Bicester Village‘ thing to do. Entry ain’t cheap for adults, but the grounds are huge and you can easily spend a whole day wandering around the palace itself and the gardens and lakes around it. Fun fact: Winston Churchill was born here (yep, we did all the nerdy guided tours). My advice would be to take a picnic with you as the food there is rather pricey (gawd, I’m turning into my Mum) and wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking.

If you’re wondering why the ornate flower displays were there, that’s because they were prepping for a wedding and as we wandered around it was pretty clear to see that this wasn’t some ‘party back at the flat with Domino’s’ number. There were flowers everywhere, bodyguards telling people not to touch them and the marquee out the back had a balcony. It made for some great snooping material. Turns out it was a £5,000,000 wedding held for the son of one of the richest ladies in the world. Mark and I should have totally gone through with our plan to be wedding crashers. Damn it.

In the end making Mark smell the roses in the rose garden was a terrible idea and it sent his hay fever into overdrive, so we packed up and headed for an indoor activity – bowling. We found the local alley, got a slush puppy and Mark completely wiped the floor with me for two games. It was perfect and there’s something about bowling that always takes me back to my youth. We have vowed to visit the one in Brighton more often because we both love it and love to play air hockey in the arcade afterwards (again Mark wins by about 1000 points every time).


We stayed for two nights at the beautiful (and brand-spanking new) Artist Residence Oxfordshire. The room had everything that I want whenever I go away; a bath (and top-notch bathing products), a TV that you can view from the bath and a fully stocked mini bar. I went to town and had a great time drinking G&T in the bath, whilst viewing all the post-election coverage on the TV and shoving shortbread biscuits into my mouth. I had three baths during our two day stay as I loved the bath so much. It was awesome. Room aside there’s also a restaurant downstairs (see paragraph below for more on that), a pub and the place is set in the most beautiful teeny, tiny village if you fancy a countryside walk. My only tip would be to bring ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper as some of the pub regulars have a particularly booming voice after a couple of bevvies (yep, I really am turning into my Mum).


Foodwise we made an McDonald’s pit stop on the M25 because it was getting late and I thought that I might pass out if I didn’t have a cheeseburger at that exact moment – 10/10 would highly recommend. Then for dinner on the Saturday night we headed to The Chequers which is a very popular pub haunt in the area. Mark and I were a little disappointed and wish we’d eaten back at the hotel because the breakfast that we’d had in the morning (included in the price of the room – SCORE), was really rather delicious. Thankfully we’d booked in for Sunday lunch at Mr Hanbury’s Dining Room which is in the Artist Residence and it was so bloomin’ good. The roast hit the spot and just look at that chocolate mousse. We headed home with plenty of tissue for Mark’s nose and jeans that we couldn’t do up. Dreamy.

Photos by Mark Newton & Yours Truly