A few weeks ago, a lovely bunch of ladies and I were invited to spend a couple of days at a beautiful property in Winchester, birthplace of two of my three boys and only a stone’s throw away from our home. As nothing usually happens blog-wise down here in Hampshire, and as it looked just so beautiful from photographs I’d seen of Riverside Lifestyle, I jumped at the chance and my lovely parents came to babysit the boys and make sure they got to and from school whilst I was away.
Ten of us arrived at the Riverside Lifestyle grounds and met around a couple of wooden picnic tables at the Riverside Yurt, which serves as a café and yoga/pilates base each day for locals and passers by. After all of the hellos, we dragged our cases across the stony driveway to the house excitedly, ready for our stay to begin.
That afternoon, we got settled in and had a little swim in the pool which is attached to the smaller cottage on Riverside Lifestyle’s property and situated in the far corner of the Riverside grounds. Picture perfect blue skies greeted us as we relaxed and laughed about the proximity of our phones to the water, and marvelled at the landscape surrounding us.
Riverside Lifestyle grow their own lavender in a neatly curated portion of their grounds for use in bath products and jams [we have some of their very delicious and Hero-approved raspberry and lavender jam right here on our breakfast table], keep their own bees and have also begun to cultivate their own vineyard for small scale production of house wine. I love that Riverside Lifestyle is so much more than a beautiful holiday home, which we talked about with Clare, the owner, as we celebrated that evening with a meal cooked on site for us by the Little Kitchen Company at a cost of £40 per head. My favourite course was the chicken with mushroom sauce – which was made even more special by the pink champagne from Mel’s own family vineyard in Champagne, France!
We were pre-allocated rooms and to my delight, the bedroom I loved the most on my tour of the house was to be mine! Nestled at the top of a small flight of steep stairs in the countryside home lay my bed for the stay as I shared with Mel in a house filled with nooks and crannies and secret doorways that my boys would just love to explore. It was the quintessential hide and seek house.
The following morning I groaned to myself and wondered just why I had decided that I wanted to pay £10 to get up at the crack of dawn to try yoga at such an unGodly hour when I actually had the chance for a lie in. But no, I opted to get up and waddle downstairs in the most unattractive and equally comfy pair of jogging trousers I own and to have my bottom photographed by Donna whilst I tried not to be embarrassed sounding out Omms [I am not tuneful] with the very soothing Shelley Edwards of Progress to Success Yoga. How delightful. Besides the bottom paparazzi, I had no idea how amazing yoga was – and all the time kept wondering to myself whether I could find a class to go to when Hero started pre-school. After feeling like I was melting into the floor at the end of the session, I was so relaxed that I floated back to the house for my second cup of tea of the day [the first was courtesy of Lauren as I wandered bleary eyed into the kitchen on waking].
Some of us decided to purchase spa treatments from Hollistic Hens whilst we were there – which all sounded so lovely and indulgent, but as I was at such a beautiful location I decided to get some work done instead and spent the morning rushing backward and forward on the lawn arranging yoghurt parfaits and cereal boxes. Haha.
Whilst we were enjoying our retreat, we also learned a life skill that I managed to put into practise this weekend for our boys’ party. Judith Searles, local event florist, gave a fun workshop on flower arranging – and we learned how to put together a wreath on an oasis base. It was fantastically simple to do once we had the formula in our heads, and 45 minutes later we were all posing in the rain in new and gorgeous raincoats with our rose and daisy filled creations. We filled up with jam scones and tea, and headed back to the house for some cocktails, which were SO good. My favourite was the pina colada flavoured vodka – I may have had two of them. Perhaps. But as I had the most beautiful glasses to show them off in I felt it was all in the line of duty.
On the final night, after a huge dinner of pizza and cocktails [again, in the line of duty] at the fabulously long dining table, we were clearing up when a surprise seagull decided to visit the house, sneak into the kitchen and poop all over my napkins! It took two of us about ten minutes to usher the confused gull outside like teatowel-wielding matadors, throw some bagel crumbs towards him and close the conservatory doors very swiftly.
At the end of our short stay together, it was so sad saying goodbye – to each other and to the beautiful Riverside Lifestyle property. It’s the perfect place to relax, let your little ones run free over the grass [avoiding the bee hives!] and enjoy some of our beautiful Hampshire country air.
Thank you to Riverside Lifestyle for the wonderful and relaxing stay, and to Donna, Bridget, Mel, Lauren, Laura, Laura, Nicole, Rosie and Clare for such a fabulous few days – I’m already looking forward to our next adventure!
This is a collaborative post – the accommodation was provided in return for this post, and all extra services were paid for by myself.