WANT to know my secret recipe for the perfect Christmassy weekend getaway?
- Cosy Cotswold cottage
- Roaring log fires
- Bracing countryside walks
- Crafty Christmas market
- Handful of assorted offspring*
To be honest though, as our two families arrived in the chocolate-box Cotswold town of Moreton-in-Marsh, with two grumbling teenagers and two testing tweenies, I was sure we were heading for disaster.
We burst into our home for the weekend, the stunning Grade II listed Century Cottage, handily located just off the main high street. It’s part of the Cotswold Cottage Gems collection — a hand-picked selection of stylish gems with tons of charm and buckets of style.
As the parents admired the huge stone fireplace, indulgently luxurious bathroom, and stylish bedrooms, the kids scrambled frantically for the wifi codes after the deprivation of two whole hours in a car.
Their collective cries of relief echoed around the cottage as one by one they connected and declared signal strength sufficient for survival for two whole days isolated from civilisation. So it was with great trepidation that I announced my next move was to tear them away from their phones and out for that most hated of parental punishments . . . fresh air!
Bearing in mind we were dealing with two teenage boys we took the necessary precaution of stopping off and refuelling via a stonking lunch at The White Hart Hotel. The kids were totally unimpressed by its incredible history.
Charles I sought shelter there during the Civil War, and his unpaid bill is commemorated on a plaque by the entrance. Luckily the fish-finger butties and BLT’s went down a lot better than the history lesson.
Despite their initial moans, the kids soon forgot to be moody as we hiked through super soggy but stunning Cotswold countryside via Bourton-on-the-Hill and Batsford Arboretum.
Arriving back home ruddy cheeked and muddy booted, we were extremely glad of the cottage’s handy boot and laundry room as kids and dogs were stripped down and washed off.
As the teenagers came over all Bear Grylls, lighting the log burner in the huge stone fireplace, the adults got on with some very well-earned and much-anticipated drinking.
Buoyed up with our fresh air success, and possibly a bit too much gin, we decided to go seriously sadistic on the group and ban phones for the evening.
Working our way through the well stocked cottage’s board games, we managed to survive a whole night without checking statuses or going on TikTok.
Moreton-in-Marsh is perfectly located for exploring some of the Cotswold’s famous star attractions like Stow on the Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stratford-upon-Avon and Blenheim Palace.
But not wanting to push our luck too far, for fear of setting off a full scale teenage rebellion, we decided to let the swamp monsters sleep in for a bit the next morning and explore a bit closer to home.
As luck would have it the town was hosting its traditional Christmas market and festive lighting ceremony that day.
Word had obviously got around, as crowds streamed in enjoying the hundreds of stalls stretching in front of the elegant Redesdale Market Hall and 16th Century Curfew Tower. We picked up unique Christmas gifts and staved off the winter chill by sampling the mulled gin and hot prosecco, with the teens eventually joining us when the belly alarm clocks finally woke them from their slumber.
As dusk fell the town came together for a charming nativity before the main event, switching on the Christmas lights by local resident, celebrity chef and Bake Off judge Prue Leith.
Jostling their way to the front, star-struck Poppy and Gracie’s selfie with baking royalty was the icing on the cake for a fabulous festive break.
*Feel free to omit teenagers from recipe to ensure perfect results!
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