Jo’s Blog: Closer to home



With the whole world having been through a lengthy lockdown, we have all had plenty of time to reflect.


Like many, I’m having to move my overseas holiday plans for this year. I do however still need to take a break from the four walls of my home. I need scenery, forests, hills, mountains, lakes, sea and hot tubs. Good weather would be a bonus.


Some will be counting down the days until you can jump on a plane to a far-flung exotic destination, but I imagine others will be looking for a much-needed post-isolation getaway that doesn't require international airports and several hours on a plane.

I am of course talking about embarking on an adventure within and around our own pint-sized shores. With more than 5,000 years of history sewn into our soil, adventure is everywhere. But let's not forget about the landscape: moors, mountains, lakes, forests and endless miles of breathtaking coastline.


The best part about travelling in and around Britain is that we're used to unpredictable weather, so whether it's hot, cold or raining, there is always something to experience. Mountain biking, tubing, kayaking, cycling, walking, picnicking and superb golf courses are all on our doorstep.


The good news is that I have some incredible places for you to consider for your post-lockdown break and they're extremely close to home. I’ve picked out a few to share which I know will appeal but there are of course plenty more to consider.



Jersey



The island of Jersey has always been in my heart at it was a favourite of my lovely grandparents. I’ve visited several times and found myself charmed by the cultural mix of France and the UK.


Known as a little island with a big spirit, it is only 9 miles by 5 miles in size yet for foodies there is an abundance of quality extravaganzas to enjoy from Michelin star to foraged foods and seafood huts offering the local catch. The helpful tourism folk have also produced a splendid Foodie Guide.


The population enjoys sunnier days and milder winters than the UK, making it a desired attraction for those with a love for the outdoors - surfing, kayaking, diving and walking are some of the island's favourite pastimes.



Jersey Zoo owned by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is another of the island's highlights. The overarching role of their animal collection is conservation - from managing breeding programmes for release back into the wild to communicating important messages to visitors. A trip to Jersey Zoo is not only a fantastic day out, but a worthwhile cause to be supporting.


The beautiful seaside city of St Helier is incredibly cosmopolitan and makes for a great city and beach combination. It's home to the fabulous Club, a chic boutique-style hotel and spa with fine dining and an impressive rooftop cocktail garden. Its central location makes it a great option for your base.



Scotland


Scotland isn't just about golf, I know that. It is possible to holiday in Scotland without referencing golf at all. I managed a childhood of Scottish holidays without once even seeing a golf course. The Hawkswood Country Estate in St Andrews, on the other hand, is all about golf. If you hate golf look away now.



It's a 55-acre estate, 10 minutes’ drive from St Andrews, comprising four properties sleeping from 8 to 28 people, each of which provides fantastic views in a peaceful setting.


What struck me about this set up is that the estate features a private 270-yard driving range which is exclusive for guests staying at Hawkswood Country Estate. Each house also has a private short game area designed by a golf professional. Also, hot tubs!



Scotland has some stunning properties across the country from beautiful scenic Loch Lomond and Loch Tay to historical St Andrews and up to the wonderful Highlands. Many can be booked on an exclusive use basis by the one party, perfect for post lockdown celebration options for families, multi-generational groups and friends.



England


There is an abundance of wonderful choice across our green and pleasant lands to satisfy all ages and tastes.


From sailing on the tranquil Lakes of Cumbria, walking and climbing the dales of Derbyshire’s Peaks to restorative yoga, sunrise meditation, gazing at the galaxies above and invigorating sea swims in and off the Cornish coast.


I have chosen three more southerly options to share that really have the x-factor appeal for me and that I know my clients would be equally wowed by. Who wouldn't be tempted by a trendy treehouse?



The Fish Hotel, The Cotswolds


As a North Essex dweller, I rarely see a hill or mountain and boy do I miss them. The rolling slopes of the Cotswolds are a perfect fix, and The Fish is a thrilling discovery.


It's a collection of quirky hotel houses on a 400-acre private estate featuring a range of accommodation from standard hotel rooms to shepherd's huts with private hot tubs to magnificent two-bedroom treehouses, complete with heated outdoor baths on the decking built around an Oak tree.



Great dining options include Feasting on the deck, outdoor cooking with charcoal and wood-fired ovens, and Tipsy Tea, an afternoon tea with a cocktail theme.


Those like me with a faithful pooch to consider will be delighted that some room options are dog-friendly.



The Gallivant, East Sussex


If like me you require sand dunes and salty air to be included in the mix, you will most certainly appreciate The Gallivant, a seductive coastal hideaway located across from a beautiful sandy beach on the East Sussex coast.


The Gallivant specialises in irresistible food and soothing rooms which include snug cabins and luxury garden rooms with direct access to the coast garden. It's not hard to see why it was recently rated by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine in their 56 best hotels of the world.



Guests aged upwards of 13 are welcomed and daily yoga and mindfulness classes are included plus there's also a beach hut spa. It has all the ingredients for a pretty relaxing escape.


The restaurant must be impressive as it was favourably reviewed by Jay Rayner. The menus change with the season with all ingredients being locally sourced and often cooked over an open wood fire.


Rates include breakfast, elevenses, a wine bar, dinner and all experience classes.



Wilderness Reserve, Suffolk


I'm eyeing this up for my replacement birthday trip with my bestie. It's described as back to nature with a touch of luxury though I dare suggest the lux levels are pretty high and the hot tub options are extremely appealing.


The hotel comprises 15 properties with particularly well-designed interiors set on a 5,000-acre private estate. The hospitality is distinctly old-fashioned with housekeeping staff driving around the estate in splendid Morris Minors and complimentary cycles and rowboats included for guests.

Room options include the one-bedroom 'hovel' with a private hot tub, the Tabernacle which comes with a sunken hot tub on your very own island accessed via a private rope bridge, and a collection of beautiful family homes with up to 14 bedrooms and private pools.



The estate kitchen delivers fine dining to your door; you can take part in the Firefeast in secluded woodland and the trendy foodie destinations of Aldeburgh and Southwold are nearby.


I hadn't truly appreciated how many gems we have on our own doorstep. This is but a small selection that have caught my eye or come highly recommended by respected associates for that well-needed post-quarantine break.


I shall be rolling up my sleeves shortly for personal visits. Yes, it is a tough job.


#ukbreaks