Last weekend Tom and I were invited to stay at Manor Farm Courtyard Cottages in Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire. We were allocated the Pear Tree Cottage and it was hard to turn down a whirlpool bath.
Owned by the Betts family for several generations, Manor Farm’s self-catering cottages are based in 17th-century former barns and stables which have been lovingly and beautifully converted. There are four in total, The Stable, a studio cottage design for two, Orchard Cottage and the Hayloft with accommodation for four people, and lastly Pear Tree Cottage.
In many respects the cottage did feel larger than our actual house, it had a spacious kitchen which would easily seat four with all the mod cons; a living room; and what I’m going to call a bathroom suite. The bathroom was bigger than the main bedroom and the second bedroom we have at home combined, featuring a walk-in shower and whirlpool bath.
It was the bedroom though that Tom and I thought was the cosiest. A king-size bed snuck into the eves between exposed beams. But although it was cosy, it certainly was not small and it was nice to have space to put up a suitcase without permanently falling over it.
There is obviously a real sense of community in Hampstead Norreys, which is a good base for seeing Oxfordshire, Highclere Castle and Bicester Village. I always like it when you leave the Cotswolds and suddenly the rural architecture changes – like in Worcestershire and near Stratford upon Avon, here red brick replaces the sandy colour stone of the Cotswolds.
Manor Farm Cottages are good examples of this, but if you want real quaintness stick your head outside the gate to the thatched cottage over the road. All it needed was a witch enticing small children in with a gingerbread man.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and wandered around the estate, there are wild meadow areas and an impressive pond that rises and falls depending on the stream that feeds it. It was pretty idyllic. You’ll pass the 17th-century granary propped up on its saddle stones.
The community village shop is on the same site as the Manor Farm Courtyard Cottages, which is perfect if you forget the milk or like me and Tom are just too lazy to make your own breakfast. It’s won stacks of awards for its eco-living! At weekends the shop and cafe is open from 9am to midday and cyclists, locals and guests were there as soon as the doors opened. We both popped in for a coffee and pastry before we headed out for the day.
The Living Rainforest is also just up the road, so I’ll have another blog post on that coming up.
If you are interested in finding out more about staying at Manor Farm Courtyard Cottages, visit http://www.stayatmanorfarm.co.uk/