It was the morning after the night before, and everyone was looking surprisingly chipper. Breakfast was on the table and people were helping themselves to bacon and eggs, cereal, toast, coffee and juice – with an aspirin or two for those feeling a tad fragile. My son and his girlfriend were playing a game of ‘Chairs’ whilst others chatted and enjoyed a leisurely Sunday morning,
The previous evening we had all been celebrating my ‘milestone’ birthday and having a grand time in a splendid rural setting. 12 of us were staying at Premier Cottages’ Hall Hills, a luxury self-catering complex of 5 dwellings in north Cumbria. On Friday night some of us arrived to be greeted by the very friendly owner Jude, who showed us round and answered all our questions. It was quite an adventure to get there as Hall Hills’ cottages are deep into Cumbria countryside, only a short way from the M6 and Carlisle. Yet once we left the motorway and drove along ever narrower country lanes we knew we really were escaping the madding crowd and going somewhere very special.
With every cottage decorated in comfortable contemporary style (Jude has a definite flair for interior design) we felt immediately relaxed and looking forward to a weekend of enjoyable fun. My family and I were staying in Tethera Cottage, and the welcome tray of goodies was much appreciated.
My son was most impressed with the excellent wifi and superb sound system throughout the cottage when he plugged in his iPhone. I loved the master bedroom with its king-size bed and luxurious bathroom. Wish our home looked like this …
Next door at Tan Cottage, four friends were staying in another charming property with similar high-quality furnishings and delightful personal touches to make guests feel at home. Both properties have rear doors opening out onto a seated patio area perfect for BBQs in the summer. That first evening we heated up a meal in the well-equipped kitchen and enjoyed a few drinks whilst planning the weekend ahead.
The following morning we spent some time getting The Folly ready for the Saturday night celebration. We’d brought lots of food and drink, banners, balloons and party paraphernalia. (We could have taken up Jude’s offer of organizing it all with their group functions service, which is a definite plus for anyone wanting to hold a special dinner party or other event.) The premises are fully licensed and there’s a very well-stocked bar called Gud Fettal (Good Health in local dialect).
The enormous lounge of The Folly has a real wow factor. “The open-plan living area has large sofas, a big table and sky-lights for added light in the daytime and star-gazing at night. There are massive exposed beams in the ceiling and beautiful solid oak floor which complements the modern furnishings. Absolutely perfect for our gathering.
At lunchtime my aunt and uncle arrived from Kendal and we showed them round – they were very impressed with the luxury and high-end appearance. Hearing some dogs barking in the distance we looked out across the fields to see a hunt go past, shortly followed by a group of riders on a hack from the local riding stables. You really feel you are in the country here. Hall Hills was originally a farm; the cottages are conversions from the farm buildings and the owners live in the farmhouse. We went off to the pub for lunch, the others by car and me on the back of owner Tim’s sexy Italian motorbike. Well, I’m going into my prime at speed and in style!
We nipped along through the glorious Cumbria countryside, past ancient farms, wooded valleys and quaint hamlets. A buzzard watched us from high up in a bare-branched tree then flew off over the ploughed fields hunting its prey.
At the pretty village of Hesket Newmarket we had a traditional pub lunch at the Old Crown (England’s first co-operative owned pub, opened by HRH Prince Charles) with its famous brewery providing excellent beer – and rather over-priced Ham n Egg!
Everyone who was staying had arrived by mid-afternoon and I had a great time catching up with old friends. Then it was time to change and get ready to party. Having three cottages with 5 bathrooms meant we all had plenty of space to get ready with no lengthy waits – very important IMO. We gathered in The Folly at 8pm for champagne so the evening kicked off with a sparkle. A few friends who lived nearby joined us, bringing more food and drink to add to the feast.
At some point in the evening my son Alex stood up and said a few words (made his Mum very proud!) and a scrumptious chocolate birthday cake appeared as friends and family sang ‘Happy Birthday’. Wonderful …
The evening became a bit of a blur as I consumed a decent quantity of bubbly, ate far too much and danced till my feet hurt. The venue was a huge success. Everyone agreed The Folly, with its balcony overlooking the River Roe, was a spectacular setting and with the nearest neighbours about half a mile away, hopefully we didn’t disturb anyone too much either. I’m proud to say that some of us managed to stay up until almost 4am, though by that time many had already gone to their (very comfortable) beds.
So to the next morning and a slow start to the day. There are lots of things to see and do near Hall Hills. After breakfast some left to go and explore historic Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall, whilst another couple headed off into the Lake District to do some walking.
The rest of us cleared away the debris from the party and generally tidied up. It was a gorgeous winter’s day and I was putting off leaving til as late as possible to make the most of the sunshine. When we finally had to go, Jude and Tim came to say goodbye. They have created a truly exceptional place at award-winning luxury Hall Hills, which has justifiably been voted Cumbria’s Best Self-Catering Holiday of the Year more than once. If you’re looking for somewhere extra special for a romantic getaway, a family holiday or weekend break with friends then I can highly recommend it. Thanks to Premier Cottages for inviting me to stay.
Premier Cottages' collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. Properties range from small, romantic boltholes to large family-friendly country estates. The collection includes pet-friendly accommodation. It also offers the widest range of accessible properties in the UK and many properties have onsite facilities like swimming pools, gyms, spas, indoor games rooms and children's play areas.
A week's stay at Hall Hills for up to four people starts from £490 and a short break from £245. To book, go to www.premiercottages.co.uk or call the owner direct on 01697 476779.