HOME, SWEET HOME
We stayed in an adorable two-bedroom cottage that sleeps four adults and two kids over two floors, and had absolutely everything we needed. There are spacious bedrooms and enough cosy corners for everyone to relax while still being together. And the whole interior has that muted, Daylesford palette you’ve come to know and love. Beautiful linen and homeware, deeply comfortable beds and sofas, and a perfectly cosy vibe.
One of the loveliest parts of arriving at the cottage was to discover how thoughtfully stocked the cottage was with the most delicious essentials. No mad dash to a local supermarket for us – or anyone who stays here! There was fresh bread, eggs, milk and butter, all sourced from the Daylesford farm. Plus a hamper with gin, tonic, a lemon and lime, a lovely bottle of wine and tasty organic snacks. Which meant we not only had breakfast on our first morning sorted – but also some grown-up beverages and snacks for that evening.
I’m not the most restful sleeper – it takes me a while to wind down at night. But in this spacious room, snuggled down into this super-comfortable bed, I’m happy to report I slept like a baby. Perhaps it was all the fresh air, or the fact that it was just so peaceful and quiet. In fact I even slipped away upstairs for a two-hour nap on Saturday afternoon. When I woke, I felt so refreshed it was like we’d been there for a week.
For me, a winter break is all about the bathroom. This is the only room in the house where I get complete and utter privacy, so while other people may rush to the bedrooms (my daughters) or kitchen (my husband) when they arrive at a holiday destination, I make a beeline for the bathroom. And when I entered this spacious, stone-clad sanctuary – complete with bottles of Bamford products and those huge, fluffy towels – I was so, so happy. Without a word of a lie, I averaged about four baths a day.
When I’m packing for a winter escape, I focus as much on the beauty formulas as the clothes. I bring the products that I don’t necessarily have time for in my everyday life, such as relaxing bath oils and salts, nourishing masks and body products like scrubs and lotions. The ritual of entering a beautiful, empty bathroom and lining up all the lovely things on a shelf, really makes me feel like I’m on a holiday (even if it’s just for a weekend). With each bath and shower, I can feel myself unwinding more and more.
My girls were so excited about the bunk beds – I think the cows heard their squeals of excitement from their fields. For me, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the beds are cleverly designed with a guard rail, meaning no fear of hearing a bump in the night. This room also has a double bed, so it’s perfect for sleeping a whole family, or in our case, my lovely mother-in-law.
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
One of the highlights of being at Daylesford has to be the incredible farm store, which is 40 paces away and sells everything you could possibly need for a self-catered weekend. If, like my husband, you love to cook, then this is going to be your happy place (and comes with a 10% discount for guests). With amazing fresh produce – mostly grown or raised at the farm – as well as sauces, salads, a cheese room and wine too, we cooked so many delicious meals in the well-appointed cottage kitchen. For those who want a break from all that, there are two excellent spots to dine: a casual space serving pizza and other family-friendly meals, as well as a more refined restaurant, where my husband and I had a lovely dinner one night.
There’s also a brilliant shop with everything from lovely homeware and linens to cashmere robes and a gorgeous collection of kids’ toys and books. Everything has that pared-back feel in a palette of sage green, white and beige – and I basically wanted it all, but settled on some soaps. An honourable mention to the Daylesford cleaning products too, which smell so good.
The real joy of having time with my family is to slow down those moments that we have to rush through in our normal life. And for me, it’s savouring our meals together, which are a mad dash during the week. I really took my time and enjoyed every step: from laying the table with the beautiful Daylesford crockery and glasses to sitting and enjoying the food from the farm shop. I especially loved our breakfasts: muesli, fresh bread alongside butter, jam and honey, and the most delicious milk.
TAKE A WALK
We were given a map showing all the different walking routes, which helpfully highlighted which one was pram-friendly. So we opted for a 1km circuit which took us past cows, sheep and happy hens, as well as the vegetable gardens. It’s a working farm, but you’re free to roam wherever you want, and everyone is really friendly. I think what I loved most was seeing my girls begin to understand where all of our food comes from – and for all of us to breathe deep and really enjoy the wide-open spaces.
The cottage is designed in such a way that everyone can find their own place. There’s a great spot for everyone to watch a family movie together, but there’s also an office in case someone needs to work or read a book in peace. Between meals, the generous dining table is perfect for spreading out the weekend papers or, in our case, pulling out the paints and setting the kids up with a surprise art session one rainy afternoon.
There was something about the flow of this cottage that made our time inside so easy and pleasant. So much so that I started re-designing my own house from my reading nook. I think it’s because it’s quite open-plan downstairs, so while the girls were playing on the floor, I was curled up on a chair with a book and my husband was busy cooking in the kitchen – but we all still felt very much together.
No visit to Daylesford is complete without a trip to the farm’s Bamford Haybarn Spa. They do the best facials in the business (a proclamation I don’t make lightly), with some of the very best products I have ever used on my skin. It’s walking distance from the cottages, but make sure you book in advance, as the secret is out about this amazing spot. And for me, much like my bathroom time and huge nap, this treat took my relaxation to the next level. Guests get a 10% discount.
What I loved most about my first treatment, a one-hour massage, was the way it began. Rather than just get straight on the bed, the massage started with a soothing, peppermint foot bath, which really appealed to me because sometimes it takes a while to relax into the treatment. Then I was shown three oils (in gorgeous heart-shaped bowls), to choose from. The idea is that you’re attracted to the one you need: no surprises then, when I selected the blend with restorative qualities.
As I mentioned earlier, I absolutely Bamford facials. The products are really gentle and effective, and the treatments always manage to wake up my tired complexion. No matter how many serums and moisturisers I use at home, it’s never the same as an experienced aesthetician buffing, massaging and nourishing your skin with the perfect balance of ingredients. Plus, it’s so utterly relaxing.
Regardless of the season, I honestly believe there’s never a bad time to hit the countryside and treat your family to some time together. We really unplugged and relaxed. And for me, when I’m able to do that, I just find I come home being a much better version of myself. I feel more energised and, most importantly, grateful. And finally, a word on my wardrobe – it was as simple as our holiday. I lived in my Barbour jacket, trusty J.Crew jeans and most comfortable walking boots.
We boarded a two-hour train from Paddington, took a quick taxi ride, and arrived at Daylesford Organic Farm and Cottages in Gloucestershire – a relatively quick trip for a place that feels worlds away from city life. Honestly, it’s like a clean-living utopia. Everything you eat is grown or raised on the farm (outside your cottage window). There’s no food mileage. There’s a spa where every muscle knot in your shoulders can be expertly kneaded away. There are views of rolling fields and happy chickens. And there are brisk walks through beautiful countryside. Every step we took – whether it was through the organic food market or fields full of cows – took us closer to feeling detoxed and more connected, with nature and one another.
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