It's the attention to detail that makes Cowley Manor stand out. The rack of Hunter wellies at the door, to wear while you stroll around the exquisite Grade II listed gardens. The golden triple cooked chips that compliment the club sandwich. The funky, Scando-style rugs and throws. From the service to the salt cellars, everything feels like it's been carefully and lovingly thought out.
This place, which in area is the same as 50 football pitches, is dripping with the history that encapsulates the story of the British Isles... These jewels in the National Trust crown have drawn people for a huge variety of reasons. Whether as a place to escape the rat race, a place to be at one with nature or a place to fire the imagination.
When you ask for directions to your hotel and the reply is: "Turn left at the fountain and head straight for the grand entrance", you get the sense that something pretty spectacular lies at the end of the driveway. Sure enough, Cliveden House - a majestic neoclassical country house, perched within 376 acres of National Trust parkland - is no let-down.
I am glad to see that today, many people find, as my family did on our smallholding, that growing your own food is a very satisfying and creative way to live. In the town of Todmorden in Yorkshire, for example, the 'Incredible Edible' project has encouraged a revolution in community food production, growing food in public spaces around the city.
Travelling through the countryside of Germany and Denmark, there is hardly at any point you can't see any wind turbines spinning in the background. Even in deeply conservative Texas, in the US, wind turbines are becoming a more dominant factor in the landscape and here is the thing - people like it.
You may think it strange that winter is my favourite season to visit Cumbria - but this is the time of year its' landscapes are most dramatic. Dawn mists rising over the lakes, crisp frost glistening on the heathers, and serene muted winter tones. It's breathtaking - sometimes, curiously haunting...