A two hour drive from London brought us to the New Forest, an area which I have always associated with tiny ponies, perhaps with some justification as there have been 3,000 wild ponies roaming this national forest for the past 2,000 years. They still roam free, along with deer and cattle and all are looked after by local landowners, or commoners as they're called, under an ancient system put in place in 1079 by William the Conqueror.
A hour and half train ride from London, then a quick hop, skip and a jump from the train station, and you're there. Careys Manor is a 19th century hunting lodge in the middle of the New Forest. With its cosy sofas, log fires and quintessentially English gardens it's got all the ingredients for a perfect country weekend away from it all.
A former 13th-century hunting lodge is now home to Lime Wood, one of the UK's chicest boutique country house hotels, a mere two hours from London, in the New Forest Park.