When offered the chance to be driven through the beautiful Cotswold countryside for a weekend away, it was hard to turn down. Particularly when it involved a cookery lesson at Daylesford Organic, one of the classiest farm shops in the country, and a night at the spectacular notel that is Cowley Manor. So when I was whisked away for a ride in the new Ford C-Max, I knew I was in for a treat.
Daylesford's cookery school. Photos courtesy of David Berrec-Loth.
First stop was Daylesford's Organic Farm near Kingham in Gloucestershire. A favourite of Cotswold residents Kate Moss and Alex James, it's far from your average grocery store. However, the food shopping isn't the only thing to draw customers there.
If the thought of making blinis and mulled wine fills you with dread, Daylesford's Christmas cookery course is the perfect place to get some culinary inspiration. The kitchen alone is well worth a visit; it's rustic but stylish in true Daylesford fashion, but more importantly, as all the food products and kitchen utensils are of course, the brand's own, you get the chance to sample some of the delicious produce when it's at it's most fresh.
After six years as lead instructor at Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons cookery school, Vladimir Niza is well placed to show guests the ropes. From artichoke soup to chestnut Yule Log, he guided my class through an impressive seven-dish repertoire. Pretty daunting for a cooking phobe but it has made the thought of Christmas cooking a lot less frightening.
The course was action packed, but there was still time to enjoy our hard work when we sat down to devour lunch at the end of the day. When I pluck up the courage to try out some of the recipes at home, I'm sure my guests will be pleasantly surprised (actually make that shocked) by my new festive menu.
Although a visit to Daylesford might be enough indulgence for one weekend, my trip to the Cotswolds didn't stop there. A half an hour car journey took me to Cowley Manor, an idyllic country retreat set in 55 acres of parkland. Whether you're after a quiet afternoon in front of the fire or time to relax in the newly revamped C.side spa, this chic hotel offers comfort and style. The Green & Spring products in each room are not to be missed either!
Cowley Manor. Photo courtesy of David Berrec-Loth.