Thank you Muddy Stilettos – the urban guide to the countryside
Riverside Cottage, Bransbury, Winchester
We’re deep in Hampshire here, with a chalkstream clear as Mother’s ruin across the road. Think weeping willows, speckled trout, dragonfly and swan; a rare malachite flash of Kingfisher and the calm chorus of warblers and river water… yet London is an easy hour away and buzzy Winchester, just ten minutes down the road (with the best farmer’s market in the country according to Rick Stein, you heard it from Muddy first). This one’s a goodie – a thatched cottage with that squat, red-brick charm unique to home-counties villages, all flagstone floors and wooden-beams. Gather round the AGA post-children’s bedtime for wine, chats and hot chocolate. Sensitive refurbishment means that, unlike your traditional country dwelling, light floods the space plus there’s a large conservatory to boot. In summer, eat fresh croissants and Hampshire honey on the outdoor breakfast terrace then plunge into the pool (protected with an electronic safety cover when not in use). Days are filled with dreamy lazing, piles of books, long leg-stretches, BBQs by the lavender and, if you so wish, yoga, pilates and art classes at the yurt cafe next door. The 5-acre, fenced lawn is ripe for picnics — spread out your gingham, crack open the homemade lemonade and order a ‘Posh Picnic’ from wonderful local caterers The Little Kitchen Company whilst the children run amok in total safety.