Anyone who was born in January will appreciate my moan, when I say that it is the worst month to celebrate a birthday. Friends are either detoxing their bodies or have totally detoxed their bank accounts during December, and with the overload of socialising and general festive frivolity, just want to hibernate and shelter from the inevitable awful weather that sets in during January….hopefully you’ve now got the gist about the misery of a January birthday!
To counteract this, I always plan my celebrations way in advance, meaning the date is firmly marked in everyone’s diaries and any costs are able to be spread. With successful birthday jaunts to Amsterdam and a milestone birthday trip to Marrakech under my belt, I felt that the 2014 celebration would be slightly lower key; well until my group of friends asked where our annual January trip was going to be this year.
With the slightest hint of interest from them, I sprang into action, researching, organising and creating the infamous itinerary my friends have come to expect of my birthday celebrations.I decided on a weekend retreat in the country, consisting of good food, good friends, games and general relaxation, and so last Friday, Anna, Vicky, Olivia, Helen, Briony, Chloe, Elizabeth and I (and Lopez the dog) made our way to the village of Chedworth in the Cotswolds where our rural pile was situated.
As we drove up the gravel driveway to the Barn & Stables, we knew we were in for a treat, and the house proved to be everything we expected. Spacious, comfortable, stylish and with all the mod cons you could need, it was the ideal location for our girls getaway.
Unpacking done and with the rest of the party arriving soon, we poured the drinks, got the fire lit and Anna & I got to preparing our Mexican fiesta (more here) Friday night was onesie night and it didn’t take long before we were all luxuriating in our one piece sleep suits and lounging on the giant sofas surrounded by the roaring fire.
As per all of my birthday trips, the emphasis is really on food. We cooked a late breakfast in the sprawling kitchen and sat around chatting, before our feeble attempt at a brisk walk was thwarted by bad weather.
Undeterred by the lack of exercise we embarked on one of my favourite indulgences, afternoon tea, and got stuck into a table laden with homemade scones, chocolate cake and as many sweet treats as we could handle, before getting ready for our evening of fun.
The evening kicked off with cocktails and a dinner prepared by the neighbouring farm shop. French onion soup, chicken chasseur with garlic roast potatoes and a trio of desserts were consumed by a plethora of celebrities including Cher, Lily Allen, Madonna, Britney Spears, Adele, Katy Perry and not one, but two Lady Gaga’s, which provided numerous photo opportunities.
The evening ended at 2am with a Singstar Karaoke competition and a group screening of One Direction parody videos and an unnamed reality TV programme, where someone did something unfortunate with a firework to celebrate their birthday!
After a second lie in (it’s pretty tiring doing nothing) we headed through the picturesque Cotswolds countryside to the village of Southrop, for Sunday lunch at The Swan . The Swan is a quaint English pub with traditional low ceilings and open fires and is renowned for its great food, of which we enjoyed a Sunday roast washed down with several bloody Marys. It is also where Kate Moss held her rehearsal dinner and many of her wedding pictures were taken outside, so it was an idyllic place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Once the packing up was completed, we decided to take advantage of the warmer weather and rest of the day, to explore the local area. We stumbled across Daylesford Farm, which is also one of my favourite cafes in Notting hill, and had to stop in for a coffee (and an obligatory slice of cake)
The original Daylesford Organic, now boasts a restaurant, home ware, cookery school and even a Bamford spa within its farm shop surroundings, as well as the overflowing amount of fresh produce grown and made on site.
Our final stop was Kingham, where Lopez led us through the picturesque village, and stopped to admire the bunny topiary at the aptly titled Wild Rabbit pub.
Worn out from our first real shot of fresh air of the weekend we sat down for lunch at the Kingham Plough where we tucked into local pub food and enjoyed an amazing Cotswold Rarebit, before saying our goodbyes and heading back home……..
Thanks to the girls for a fabulous weekend and here’s to January 2015!