Travel · December 18, 2017

A Night In The Country

Having already watched The Holiday twice this season, I can say I’m as much of a sucker for an idyllic British Christmas as the next person (that, or, ahem, Jude Law in his prime)…

In my opinion, idea of thatched roofs thick with snow, logs burning on an open fire, mulled wine and twinkling lights thrown around in abundance is pretty dreamy indeed. There’s something completely magical about it all (except, y’know terrible train service), and until this year I’m not sure I’d experienced it around this time of year snow and all…

And isn’t it wonderful when a plan comes together almost perfectly? Although any kind of British snowfall usually halts any kind of transport service, fortunately a trip to Oxfordshire coincided with this year’s seasonal flurry and last Monday I found myself on a train to Bicester Village with Carrie and Suzie watching fields of white fly past first thing. With a few hours of Christmas shopping on the mornings agenda, followed by a Farmshop lunch (where I inordinately ordered my first turkey dinner of the year) and hot chocolates for afters, it felt like the perfect pick me up and way of injecting a little Christmas spirit to an otherwise ordinary Monday.

After wracking up an impressive amount of steps and covering serious ground along the village (as well as doing a little bit of damage with my debit card too- but more on that soon) we caught a cab further into the country for an evening booked at the Artist Residence in Oxford.

Being a huge fan of all of the AR properties (and having written more about them here, here and here), I was disproportionately excited to visit their newest offering in the Oxfordshire countryside. With the snow having fallen just a day previously, the roads were gritty and thick with white- with each house in the lead up being substantially covered. Arriving just after dusk, and with the sky not quite dark- the hotel looked positively magical from the outside. With icicles lining the edge of the roof, the tree twinkling in the courtyard, and the inside boasting the comfort of a traditional country pub with open fires and slouchy leather sofas- it’s possibly the closest I’ll ever feel to having my Amanda Woods arriving in the country moment, and was the most festive you could feel without having Wizzard blaring in your headphones too. On top of that, the rooms were every bit as beautiful as you’d imagine. With Roberts radios softly playing tunes upon arrival, homemade mince pies plated up and the roll top baths overlooking the snowy outside- it’s fortunate we didn’t have any other plans other than to curl up into our pyjamas and enjoy a soak after dinner.

With bags thrown onto beds and feet beginning to defrost after a day outside, we curled up downstairs by the fire with hot drinks and spent a couple of perfect hours setting the world to rights. Having time to spend with friends simply catching up and filling each other in- all whilst in the most scenic spot felt like exactly what Christmas is all about, and we continued the evening into Mr Hanbury’s Mason Arms until the music went down and we were the last ones left nattering.

The next morning we ordered bowls of cinnamon porridge, eggs and buttery soldiers and pots of tea to the room (isn’t there something about a hotel bed that makes it so hard to leave?) Before setting off to the big smoke after a very festive 24 hours indeed. It couldn’t have been a better spot for a quick wintery break, and I know it’ll be just as beautiful come the summer months too- and, dare I say it, it may now be one of my new favourite Artist Residences too… but perhaps that’s just the Christmas spirit talking…

(Coat: Monki (similar), Jumper: Gold Freckles, Jeans: Levi’s Wedgie, Bag: C/O See by Chloe at Bicester Village, Boots: C/O Reserved)



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