We went away for a night at the Wood Norton Hotel and it made me think…
every once in a while, getting away with your significant other and rediscovering ‘why’ you got together in the first place is a wonderful thing.
And before you get carried away with the smutty references; I wasn’t *necessarily* referring to sex.
Anyway —as I was saying —a few uninterrupted hours together is such a tonic.
A little bit of time to have a proper conversation. Without being stopped mid-sentence by ‘mummy I’ve done a poooooo!’. Or ‘mumma, he’s broken my Lego’ ; some time to laugh together, have a cuddle — and just generally reconnect — is a real joy.
We had that very scenario last weekend.
My parents had kindly agreed months ago to look after the boys overnight and even the threat of snow didn’t deter them from sticking to their word.
Even though the weather was cold and grey, we were given a very warm reception upon our arrival. And the grey January light didn’t detract from the beauty of the building and it’s surroundings.
Built by an exiled French royal — Louis Philippe Robert d’Orléans — in 1897; The Wood Norton is a beautiful Victorian hunting lodge.
With deep mullioned windows and rooms of huge proportions; the house is a vision of wood panelling. It’s so beautifully decorative and it sits in beautiful grounds, with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
The fifty glorious bedrooms still have original 19th century French decorative interiors, but they have been cleverly ushered into the 21st Century, with gorgeous modern bathrooms and the most comfortable of beds.
If Walls Could Talk
It’s the kind of house that just oozes history and even though it’s been brought up to today’s modern standards it still ‘feels’ incredibly old.
If the walls could talk I bet they’d have some extraordinary stories to tell. Those rooms have seen a lot of change over the years.
Most notably that, after the French royals vacated, it was occupied by the BBC during World War II as a venue for listening to enemy radio broadcasts. It also housed a nuclear fallout bunker.
The Wood Norton has had a colourful past, that’s for sure.
Nowadays it’s a great place to go and recharge your batteries.
After thoroughly exploring our room —with it’s gigantic ensuite bathroom — we went to find Matt and Karen and hung out in their suite for a while; catching up on the gossip and giggling like schoolgirls.
Karen had been asked to take some images for a new leather company — Tahlia Leather — and my attempts at modelling caused much amusement.
I think I’m better behind the camera, than in front of it, to be honest.
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Friends and Ever Increasing Circles
One of the things that blogging has brought me — asides from a new career — is a lovely group of new friends.
Mr D and I were talking about it in the car on the way there. Between us, we’ve always had a large social circle; friends from different times in our lives who’ve joined us on our journey.
You’d think, by the age of 40-something, that you wouldn’t be meeting quite so many new people but my online career has introduced me to a whole new raft of like-minded souls.
People who’ve transcended the boundaries of my computer screen and are now solid, real life friends.
Happily Karen is one of those — and even better — our husbands get on famously too. I’m so grateful to my blog for crossing our paths.
After a couple of drinks in the bar, we headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner.
The Wood Norton offers a seven course tasting menu but sadly it’s not available throughout the winter months, so we ate in the Brasserie.
I must admit that the menu looked a lot fuller on their website. I’d spotted scallops and black pudding — and game pie — on the online menu but they didn’t appear on the night.
The food was good gastropub fare and didn’t wholly reflect the grand surroundings. I would love to return one day to sample the fine dining menu.
It’s such a beautiful venue — definitely worthy of a visit — and the menu (albeit not what we were expecting) didn’t spoil our experience.
A Night to Remember
Spending time with my boy and having the opportunity to reconnect with him properly was such a treat.
I can count the number of times we’ve been away without our little sons on one hand — and given they’re almost 5 that’s not many.
If you’re looking for a grand home away from home — and want to feel like a (French) queen for the night — The Wood Norton is well worth a visit.
This is a collaborative post with The Wood Norton but all thoughts, words and images — as ever — are entirely my own.
Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.