Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat; if you haven’t done it already, it’s time to plan something to look forward to and how good does a gathering of friends, family or colleagues in a gorgeous house in the country sound? The thing is, Christmas gets very, very busy, we all know that, and what with other commitments, it’s not always possible to do these things during the festive holiday, so do it earlier in the month and kick start that wonderful build up to Christmas with a weekend or a midweek break away at a luxury Sleeps12 holiday house.
Weekends in the country are a joy anytime of year, but there’s something very special about getting away for a couple of days in the winter; it kind of breaks up those short days, the long nights, and the routine of work and school and chores, and it’s always a blast to spend time with the people who matter to you, after all, life is short, we should really seize these opportunities.
It’s just so nice to get out for a good walk, wrapped up in warm coats, hats and scarves, to splosh your way across the fields, to stroll through the woods or wander around the narrow lanes. All that fresh air, the beautiful scenery and far reaching views of unspoilt countryside; it’s all so salubrious, and it’s nice to potter around and notice things – the earthy smell of the forest floor, pine cones hanging on branches, squirrels scampering about, deer feeding, and the cosy little cottages as the lights come on when it gets a bit dimpsy.
Then you can get back to your large group holiday home, pull off your boots, hang up your coats and go and light the wood-burner; such bliss, to put your feet up in their big thick socks, with a mug of steaming hot chocolate, maybe a few marshmallows floating on the top…. or you might be the sort who prefers a hot toddy to warm the cockles of your heart. If it’s raining, well, you can all stay in and make the most of the fabulous facilities our big group self-catering properties have – swimming pools (mostly indoors), hot tubs (often indoors or covered), saunas and games rooms. You might even fancy going out somewhere, perhaps to a museum or a family attraction that provides indoor fun, or for a hearty homemade lunch in a cosy country pub.
How appealing is the thought of a few days tucked away in a gorgeous thatched cottage in the Somerset hills? Halse Water House is an idyllic rural retreat that sleeps 12; there are footpaths and bridleways to explore right from the doorstep and just up the road is a very welcoming pub, The New Inn. Out on the Somerset Levels, if you stay at Walnut Arbour it’s like having your own private spa – there’s a swimming pool, hot tub, barrel sauna and even a steam room; cross the lane and you can walk along the River Tone to North Curry where you can go for lunch at the Bird in Hand. Otherwise stroll in the other direction to Burrow Mump, climb to the top of the hill and then head back down to the King Alfred Inn.
On the Blackdown Hills in Devon, Culmbridge House has a wonderfully homely feel and snooze space for 14; there’s a swimming pool, a sauna, and in the garden a Nordic style BBQ lodge where you can snuggle up in warm blankets and chatter away beneath the twinkly lights till the small hours. Walk along the River Culm, or up to Culm Beacon; again, there are country pubs nearby, or as with any of our properties, you can hire one of our recommended caterers to come in and cook you up a scrumptious winter feast. A few miles away is Foxhill Lodge, sleeping 8; the views are utterly breath taking, and to be honest, it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing because you feel so at home, even if it’s blowing a hooley you can hanker down and enjoy the time together.
Ham Bottom and Fuzzy Orchard are top-notch timber-clad lodges set in a quiet valley, both with their own indoor pool, sauna, covered hot tub, games room and BBQ lodge; each lodge sleeps up to 14 guests and there’ll be no shortage of hygge, ideal for any pre-Christmas gathering. Not far away is Jurston Barn for 12 – indoor pool, hot tub, games area, walks on the doorstep, very good pubs nearby. Similar story with Thorncombe, that sleeps 12, and Foxcombe, sleeping 14. These two purpose-built holiday lodges have plenty to keep you amused including a private indoor pool each, and because they’re right at the foot of the Quantock Hills there’s ample opportunity for you to get outdoors; go pony trekking in the hills with Quantock Trekking, explore the combes, wander along the high ridges, go to the coast for a stroll along a windswept beach in the bracing sea air – it’s only 15 minutes away.
If you like the idea of being snucked away on the edge of the Forest of Dean, then Whitehaven will suit you well. This big country house sleeps 12 and has an indoor pool and a games room, and is perfectly situated for you to get out and get active; swing through the trees at Go-Ape, go deep underground at Clearwell Caves, or explore the forest at your leisure on foot, bike or horseback.
Time to catch up, time to unwind, to eat together, laugh together and to raise a glass to the coming Yuletide season. Have a very special pre-Christmas break with Sleeps12, but don’t dally as with the low prices we’ve got for late availability, these spaces will soon get filled. Strike whilst the iron’s hot, let Christmas start a little earlier this year.