6 Beautiful Period Homes For Sale In Northamptonshire

Large, stone period houses are a common feature in the Cotswolds, but they don’t stop there, they spread all out into the East Midlands county of Northamptonshire too. Why focus on Northamptonshire? In my opinion, it is one of the most underrated counties in England, and also the place I was born, and whilst the price tags on these homes are more suited for those with deep pockets, compared to other parts of the country they are good value.

The Old Dower House, Cosgrove

Located in a small village near Milton Keynes, this 17th century home boasts 6 bedrooms, 4 reception rooms, and even its own thatched cottage that is currently used as home offices. The property is Grade II listed and has good sized, landscaped gardens, it has retained many of its original features including exposed beams, exposed oak flooring, quarry tiled floors, fireplaces, and windows with the original shutters and window seats.

The oldest part of the property is the section comprising the kitchen and breakfast room with two bedrooms above. The home was originally owned by a baker so would have been far more simple than it appears today, it was sold to the Mansel family in the 1700s who continued to expand the building and make additions up until 1807.

This property is on the market for £1.75 million.

Godfrees House, Staverton

Godfrees House in Staverton, near Daventry, is a 5 bedroom, stone country home surrounded by picturesque countryside. The house has wonderful internal timberwork and a fine jettied oriel window, showing peeks of times gone by. In the hallway, guests can find large stone fireplaces, whilst in the kitchen, you can enjoy the warmth of an aga and even a walk-in pantry.

Two bedrooms have kept their original Tudor fireplaces, whilst the master bedroom is adjacent to a good size dressing room and en suite bathroom. In the garden, you will see tennis courts, a large parking area, spinney and even a cottage and stableyard. The house spreads across 4000 sqft whilst the garden is set within 23 acres of land.

This property is on the market for £1.6 million.

Piddington Lodge, Horton

This lovingly restored 17th century home is situated on the edge of the very popular Salcey Forest.  The property was once a hunting lodge and was owned by the Crown Estate until the mid-1920s, it has since been renovated and offers an open kitchen family room and a number of beautiful bathrooms, much of which has kept its old age character.

You are invited into the lodge through an old oak porch and into a reception hall with a matching staircase. The Drawing Room is a great space for family get-togethers and contains large windows with shutters, looking out into the pretty gardens. The en suite bathroom to the master bedroom is a real feature of the home, comprising a freestanding copper bathtub and walk-in shower.

Like the homes above, Piddington Lodge also offers a guest cottage with an open plan living area and a kitchen with French doors opening onto the garden.

This property is on the market for £1.5 million.

The Priory, Wollaston

Have you ever needed a home with 8 bedrooms? If so, this is the one for you! The home has undergone a sensitive restoration, dating back to the late 17th century, with parts being added later on. Like many of the neighbouring properties, the Priory was constructed in local limestone and retains the original plain-tile and thatch roofs. The property extends to over 7,300 sq ft on a large plot of over 2 acres, making ideal for large families who want enough room to run around.

The dining room is a beautiful part of the house, brought together by a combination of large stone fireplaces and signature stone flooring. The property is home to rustic beams and a number of cosy, stone window seats, overlooking the vast garden.

This property is on the market for £1.35 million.

The Thatched House, Sulgrave

The village of Sulgrave on the Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire border was once home to the ancestors of George Washington, the first president of the USA. The thatched house covers a whopping  4500 sqft and has kept much of its periodic charm.

The home is of significant historical importance, having been associated with the nearby Sulgrave Manor ever since its construction, the manor was built in 1539 for Tudor wool merchant Lawrence Washington, a direct ancestor of George Washington. The Thatched House was in fact a hotel owned by Sulgrave Manor right up until the 1970s when it was turned into a loving family home.

The Grade II listed home sits under a beautiful thatched roof and retains numerous period features including exposed timbers, window seats, window shutters, panelling, flagstones and inglenook fireplace. The current owners have put a lot of love into the property, rethatching it, rewiring it and even replumbing, they also added new bathrooms and a sprawling kitchen.

This property is on the market for £1.3 million.

The Old School, Geddington

A gorgeous converted Victorian school, crammed full with character, this property provides 4 bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms. Built in the mid 19th century, the home was a school right up until a few decades ago and is immaculately kept with vaulted ceilings, a stunning lounge (once the assembly hall!), an oak staircase and galleried landing.

This property is on the market for £975,000.

Are Gondola Rides Worth the Money?

We have all been warned when we mention we will be visiting Venice – ‘The gondolas are too expensive, they will fleece you for all your worth’. Okay, maybe not to that extreme but there are a lot of people who think the gondoliers are just trying to rip you off. But is this true?

Gondolas are an iconic part of Italy and there are many people desperate to do one. During my recent trip to Venice, my friend and I paid £80 for a 30-minute gondola trip up the Grand Canal and around the main waterways, did we think it was expensive? Yes. Did we think it was worth it? Yes.

It wasn’t until our final night in the city when we decided at sunset to do one last ride, that we learnt exactly what goes into these trips. As the sun was setting over one of the most beautiful cities in the world, our gondolier Alex was telling us all about his job and why he does it. This opened our eyes into why the prices are what they are and we came away so happy we decided to do the extra trip and realising they are not that expensive after all.

There is a lot of mystery around the gondolier world, even though this is one of the oldest trades in the city. Gondoliers have been present in Venice for over 1,000 years, the first official reference came about in 1094 when it was mainly rich families who had access to the experience. This means gondoliers discovered all the secrets of the aristocracy, they were treated with respect so there was no risk of their private lives being spilt.

These days, it’s largely tourists who want to see the city via gondola and there are only 433 gondoliers with an official license to operate, this is a big decline from the 10,000 that were around in the 16th century.

The gondoliers you see today are very likely to be descended from past gondoliers, they are passionate people who want to show the world the beauty of their city. The job takes a lot of skill, and many children of gondoliers will learn to row from a young age. Gondoliers take part in regattas, to show of their skills and improve them, the Festa di San Marco which is held in April is the most renowned of these regattas.

A gondolier must participate in many hours of training before being fully qualified to row a gondola solo. They must pass a swimming test and rowing test before being accepted into the Arte del Gondoliere School. These courses run over 12-18 months and include language lessons, history, local geography and rowing, they must then have final rowing exams.

Once the exams are passed, the gondolier must register with the local Chamber of Commerce, open a small business tax ID and pay a large amount of fees, only then can they be considered a substitute gondolier. He/she must then work for unto a year in one of 5 gondola stations in which people are transported from one side of the Grand Canal to the other.

What you may have noticed is that your gondolier always seems to be male… women are allowed to be gondoliers but there is only one in the whole of Venice, Georgia Boscolo, the daughter of a retired gondolier. This is because it is a tradition for a father or grandfather to pass the trade down to his son, rather than his daughter, a practice I hope can change in the near future so we can see some more ladies navigating us around the pretty canals!

The price of a gondola these days ranges between €20,000-€50,000 euros and many gondoliers aim to own their own one day. Gondoliers must wear a uniform – a blue or red striped t-shirt with a straw hat, teamed with dark blue or black trousers. You can infect buy your own gondolier t-shirt, at the foot of the Rialto Bridge you will find the Emilio Ceccato shop where all proceeds of these striped shirts are put into projects to safeguard the gondolier trade.

So how much does a gondolier earn? Well, it is unlikely they are about to expose their tax returns to us, but it is thought they could earn up to $150,000 per year which is (as of 2020) £112,000 (€126,000). When you think of the back-breaking work that goes into their trade each day, I think it is understandable that each ride costs around €80 (expect today a premium at sunset). These gondoliers work morning till night, I can’t imagine the number of rides they steer each day during the summer season, and when it rains it can take hours to empty their boats of water!

Are they worth the expenditure? Definitely. A gondola will take you to otherwise inaccessible parts of the canals, they offer a feeling of peace and contentment as you listen to the water lapping on the sides of the boat, and I do think the extra money for a sunset or twilight journey is 100% worthy.

Exploring Europe with P&O Ferries

Please note the following blog post has been written as part of a paid collaboration with P&O Ferries.

Exploring Europe with P&O Ferries

A few weeks ago I was invited on board P&O Ferries Pride of Hull to experience their Hull to Rotterdam crossing, followed by a short road trip, from the Netherlands to Germany to Belgium and home via P&O Ferries Calais to Dover route. I was apprehensive at first, we are still living in a pandemic after all, so I needed to weigh up the pros and cons of finally leaving my little bubble in the middle of England.

I was pleasantly surprised by the experience, having the safety of my own car and not having to come into close contact with strangers on public transport was a relief and I believe will be the most popular way to travel for the foreseeable future. We enjoyed a contact-free check-in process at Hull and as soon as we stepped out of the car on the ferry we were required to put on our masks (I ordered some cute ones especially for the trip!). As it was a night ferry (the crossing was 12 hours in total), my sister and I were in a cabin, another relief. The cabins are all cleaned from top to bottom before and after every passenger, Ellie and I had also brought with us our own antibacterial spray just for extra peace of mind.

P&O Ferries have taken a number of precautions on board. These include one way systems so you don’t have to pass people in corridors or on the stairs, mandatory mask-wearing and regular antibacterial hand sanitising stations.  Fresh air is circulated throughout the ships and is also available out on deck, and everyone we came across was happy to adhere to the new guidelines.

Our cabin keys and tickets were paper and printed especially for us so we knew they hadn’t been touched by multiple people before us. Once we left our bags in the cabin we headed down to get some dinner. There are a number of options on the ferry, an a la carte style restaurant and a world buffet. We opted for the world buffet, however, P&O Ferries have made some changes to the process to ensure passenger safety. We were told to sit at a specific time and only a small number of passengers would be invited up to the buffet at each time, we did not serve ourselves but were served by chefs who stood behind a see-through barrier. We were then handed a clean tray with our food on at the end, we sat down and ate our curry before heading out on deck!

Whilst fresh air is circulated throughout the ship, Ellie and I wanted to go outside and enjoy the sunset, we were treated to a beautiful night so spent some time on deck admiring the view before heading back to our cabin where we laid our weary heads and slept for the night.

The next morning we woke up to a view out to Rotterdam Port and grabbed some breakfast (croissants and pain au chocolat!) before freshening up (the cabins have full equipped bathrooms with showers, luxury toiletries and even our own dressing gowns!) and then it was already time to head down to the car to disembark. In true Hannah fashion, I was the last person to arrive to my car so the whole car deck was empty by the time I drove off! Oops!

Passport control was also contact-free, we flashed the Dutch border force our passports and off we went, on the road to Amsterdam which was just one and a half hours away. I was originally a little nervous about driving on the right-hand side of the road but got used to this quickly.

Amsterdam

I had never considered getting the ferry to the Netherlands before, I was glad we had the car as we were able to park at the hotel and didn’t have to fight our way through a busy train station with bags. We noticed our hotel had social distancing markers on the floor, hand sanitising stations, and only two guests were allowed in the lift at once (there were bubbles you had to stand on in the lift). Once again we sprayed everything down and then we went straight out to see the city.

Amsterdam is easy to navigate on foot, it was one of the reasons I picked to go here as once again we could avoid trains, trams and buses! That first day we walked 25,000 steps so certainly didn’t feel guilty when I ate two chocolate stroopwafels at lunchtime. We spent the afternoon strolling through the picturesque canals, snapping photos at every opportunity, before having an al fresco cup of tea and hiring a pedalo so we could enjoy the water!

In the heart of the city, in particular between the Paleis and Damrak, we felt a little concerned by the lack of face coverings. There was a one-way system on the busy shopping streets but people were getting a little too close to us. We made the decision to leave this area straight away, there were plenty of other beautiful areas to enjoy that were much quieter. However, since leaving Amsterdam have brought in new regulations, face masks became mandatory in busy areas from 5th August. I was relieved to hear this.

We had a look at Anne Frank’s house from the outside as Ellie and I both love history! You can go inside the house, it is now a museum, you must pre-book tickets online, this means the museum owners can control the number of people in the house/area at one time so it doesn’t become risky to anyone.

That evening we took another wander around the canals, there is a point known as Brug Van 15 Bruggen where you can spot 15 bridges all from one spot!! We waited for sunset and enjoyed a glass of wine on the river edge, watching each canal light up every few minutes or so. We noticed it was extremely quiet, we only saw a few people, the city, in general, was quieter than I have ever seen it before.

Germany

Not far from the Netherlands/German border is Bremen, the 10th largest city in the country. It is around a 3 hour and 40-minute drive from the centre of Amsterdam, which makes it much quicker than the quickest public transport route which takes 4 and a half hours.

We headed straight for the Medieval centre of the city, known as Schnoor which is the old fishing quarter. Most travellers will find themselves stepping into a real-life fairytale scene with rows of 15th-century cottages lining a maze of winding streets. These sweet buildings house restaurants, toy shops, galleries, pubs and even an ice cream shop, it’s the perfect spot for those wanting to pick up a few traditional souvenirs, including the most beautiful wooden toys for young children, this is a wonderland for people of any age.

We were surprised to have the place largely to ourselves, this is one of the most quaint quarters in Europe and yet we passed barely anyone as we wandered the streets. We even enjoyed a pint of beer and an alfresco dinner, all served by a friendly gentleman in a mask, we were seriously getting used to the masks by now and the requirement to sanitise our hands, you would almost forget this wasn’t normal a few months ago.

The 15th century Marktplatz (main square) is flanked by cloisters, guild houses, parapets and a breathtaking cathedral that was built over 1000 years ago, it also boasts the oldest coffee shop in Germany.

The next morning we woke early and drove 3 hours to Monschau, a fairytale village that has been plucked straight from the story of Beauty and the Beast. Close to Cologne, Monschau is an easy visit for those staying in north-west Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg as it is nestled close to all four borders.

Most famous for its spectacular Christmas markets, Monschau is a different type of beautiful in summer, the whole village is in bloom with flowers sitting above the babbling river that flows through the centre of the village. A popular place for day-trippers, there is no train station here as it straddles a river valley, making it best visited by car.

There was plenty of parking in town, as it was a very hot day it was busy but visitors happily kept a distance from each other, and once again, masks required in all indoor areas except when eating. We strolled through the medieval streets before enjoying a refreshing drink in the town square and heading back to the car ready to get on route to Bruges, 3 hours away.

This is what I love about driving through Europe… there are beautiful places to stop around every corner, making driving not a challenge, but an enjoyable experience.

Belgium

A small country located to the south-east of England, Belgium is a popular choice amongst British travellers, and it’s easy to see why. Belgium is sprinkled in picture-perfect destinations such as Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp and Ardennes, but for Ellie and I, it was the Medieval city of Bruges that drew us in.

Bruges is a captivating, historical city so richly preserved, making it the ideal break close to home. The city is pocket size, making it easy to explore on foot. We found parking simple and were able to park in the city centre for less than €20 for 24 hours, for the rest of our time we explored on foot as we didn’t want to miss a thing. Divided up by canals, Bruges was once one of the greatest trading ports in Northern Europe in the late Medieval times before declining until being restored to its former glory in the 19th century.

Tourism is expertly managed, especially now. For a Friday afternoon in late July, my sister and I found the city eerily quiet. Once again, masks were mandatory, but here it was stepped up a notch with them being a requirement even on the streets, not just in buildings. This is where Ellie and I felt the safest as it was clear the government, residents and tourists alike were all taking things seriously. The only time masks were taken off were for eating and drinking, which was easily done in the quiet central market square, and for a quick tourist snap when no one else was around.

Bruges is a place to walk and wander, making it ideal for nervous travellers that want to stay out of public areas such as churches and museums. Whilst the history is fascinating and museums offer a great insight into the city, you can still appreciate it from the outside. There are plenty of quiet corners of the city, especially in the evenings and mornings, and the canals were far quieter than I have seen before.

Calais to Dover

After a final walk around Bruges on a warm Saturday morning, we made the 1 hour 20-minute journey to Calais, a busy port on France’s north-east coast, just 20 miles from Dover in England. Sad that our European tour was at an end but excited for the journey home by sea, we made a smooth entrance driving onto the day ferry. It was at this point I realised how thankful I was to have my car with an unlimited luggage allowance! Let’s just say I went a little crazy in Bruges buying all the chocolate and gifts to take back home for my family who were taking care of Baxter!

When we got out the car we put on our masks (these are also mandatory on the day ferry) and checked into the P&O Ferries Club Lounge. The upgrade meant we could relax in a dedicated lounge so travelled in luxury! We were greeted with a glass of champagne and tea and coffee making facilities are available free of charge, as well as soft drinks and snacks. Masks were worn but could be taken off when eating. Lunch could be ordered from a special Club Lounge menu meaning we didn’t have to venture into other parts of the ferry if we didn’t want to (I still went for a snoop though as I love feeling nostalgic on ferries because they were a huge part of my childhood holidays).

P&O Ferries have been accredited by Visit Britain with the ‘We’re Good to Go’ slogan across all their ships, this means they have followed all Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines with an effective process of cleanliness and social distancing. The day ferries offer all the same precautions as the night ferries – one way systems, enforced mask-wearing, hand sanitising stations, social distancing markers, fresh air within the ship and also fresh air out on deck.

Travellers can book with confidence as customers are able to amend travel dates with no amendment fees. P&O Ferries have been navigating customers safely to their destinations for over 180 years and continue to do so today!

To book visit http://www.poferries.com/

The Prettiest Villages in Northamptonshire

Located in the East Midlands, Northamptonshire has a population of around 725,000. Its central location in the UK means it’s surrounded by 8 other counties, just one of the reasons I love living here, exploring different places is so easy! In 1832 the county was noted for being “a county enjoying the reputation of being one of the healthiest and pleasantest parts of England”. The county today is still known for its abundance of churches and stately homes, yet it is yes well known for its beautiful villages.

Grafton Underwood

A tiny village nestled in some of the county’s most beautiful countryside, Grafton Underwood is actually where Bridget Jone’s parents supposedly lived! Other than that mention, not much goes on here but someone did get almost run out of the village when they wanted to add a brick extension to their stone cottage.

Very little has changed in the village over the years, leaving it relatively untouched and as one would have found it over 100 years ago. Each sunday in August the locals host cream teas by the brook that runs through the centre of the village.

Boughton

On the outskirts of Northampton itself, Boughton is a little haven that has just about avoided the urban sprawl of the town. The village is characterised by sandy-coloured houses built in locally quarried stone, many of which enjoy expansive views out into the countryside.

The infamous highwayman (a nice word for an old school robber who stalks the roads on horseback) “Captain Slash” was detained whilst attempting a robbery at Boughton Fayre which was held on Boughton Green. He was later tried and hanged in Northampton infront of a large crowd on 21st July 1826. Rumour has it he still haunts Boughton church, especially at Christmas…

Wadenhoe

The village of Wadenhoe is owned by a charitable trust that oversees the maintenance of 30 properties, located on a gentle slope down to the River Nene the village is home to around 130 people. 36 buildings in the village are listed, meaning they hold some sort of historical importance that must be protected, the majority of the houses date back to the 17th and 18th century and are constructed in a pale limestone with Collyweston slate roofs.

The village has been here over 800 years, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book and its home to a 13th century church. which the meadowlands of the Nene valley.

Rockingham

Located close to the border with Leicestershire and Rutland, the pretty village of Rockingham is situated just on the edge of the town of Corby. The village is overlooked by an ancient castle that was built on the instruction of William the Conqueror, the castle has been owned by the same family for over 450 years and they still live there with their children to this day, the castle is open to the public on certain days of the week.

Preston Capes

Nestled in the South Northamptonshire countryside, Preston Capes is a sleepy village that wouldn’t look out of place in the heart of the Cotswolds. The name Preston Capes is derived partially from Preosta-tun (Anglo-Saxon for the priests enclosure) and from a French family name which was added when Hugh de Capes held the Hundred of Fawsley in the early 13th century.

Warkton

Warkton is one of my favourite villages, I love this part of Northamptonshire as it is unbelievably beauiful and homely, yet you never seem to come across any outside visitors, you can truly enjoy these places all to yourself. I can’t tell you much about the vilage’s history because I can’t find anything, but what I can tell you is this is a beautiful village sprinkled with picture perfect thatched cottages.

Harpole

There’s a reason why South Northamptonshire is consistently voted as one of the best places to live in the UK, and it’s villages like Harpoe that make you realise why. Close enough to Northampton itself you always have things to do, the village offers the best of country living. The village also boasts a fantastic scarecrow fesival each September which raises money for local charities.

Cranford

Another hidden gem nestled on the outskirts of Kettering, Cranford is home to a lovely tea room and a host of chocolate box cottages!

Things to consider before buying a thatched property

Thatched cottages look lovely, don’t they? And they are! But before you plunge into buying one, there are a lot of things you need to know! I am currently on the hunt for a period property in the UK to buy and turn into my very own home and my heart is currently set on a 3 bedroom thatch. Hopefully, this article will help you decide whether you do or don’t want a thatched roof and if you do, it’ll guide you on all the things you need to look out for!

The word ‘thatch’ is Anglo-Saxon in origin and simply meant roof covering, it is thought to be one of the oldest building techniques in the world and there is no surprise that East Anglia, home to the Anglo Saxons, is covered in thatched buildings. Sadly, from the start of the 19th Century, there was a steep decline in the number of thatched buildings. In 1800 there were approximately 950,000 thatched buildings in England, but by 1960 this number had dropped to 35,000.

The lifespan of a thatch roof

The straw you see on top of these houses weren’t just plonked there in the 1700s, it has to be redone every few decades! There are a number of different types of thatches and this will dictate how often you will need to fork out for a new one.

Long Straw – Once the most common type of thatch in the UK, the basic material for long straw is a cereal straw, usually wheat but sometimes rye. Long straw thatched roofs will last around 20-30 years.

Combed Wheat Reed – As with long straw, this type of thatch is based on cereal straw, usually wheat. It is known as reed because of its similarity to water reed in appearance and in the way it is laid on the roof. Combed wheat reed thatched roofs should last upwards of 30 years.

Water Reed – Water reed is a wetland plant, which was historically maintained to provide for thatching purposes. Water reed thatch should last at least 30 years, but often 40-50 years, and sometimes longer! This is the longest-lasting type of thatched roof.

Cost

Thatches will usually charge by the square (10 ft × 10 ft) so if you’re looking for ball-park figures and a rough estimate, an average price would be about £700 per square. It’s important to note each thatcher is different and therefore prices will vary. The cost includes sourcing the materials and the labour involved in putting it all together.

Maintenance

Thatched roofs need maintenance, even after a new thatch has been put on. The ridge of a thatch needs replacing every 10-15 years, this costs usually £150-£200 per foot. It’s important to have your roof inspected regularly, just like you would your boiler or car, the better maintained you keep it, the longer it will last!

Insurance

Thatched properties come with a slightly higher cost of insurance due to a higher fire risk, they also have a more expensive rebuild value than conventional houses because they’ve been built using specific materials by specialists, there are only 800 master thatchers in the country after all! That being said, whilst there are specialist insurance companies you can go for, such as the NFU, many standard home insurance companies will still offer you a policy.

Fire risk

Whilst fires in thatched buildings are not the norm, research has shown that the major cause of fires in thatched buildings is heat transfer from the chimney into the thatch. The thatch reaches its ignition temperature and a roof fire can develop and spread rapidly.

There are simple precautions you can take that will greatly reduce your chance of a thatch fire:

  • Properly insulating your chimney flue to prevent heat transfer. It’s often worth thinking twice about installing a log burner as they burn at higher temperatures.
  • Good chimney maintenance is important, this includes having your chimney swept twice a year if you use your fire regularly.
  • Homeowners have the option of adding a system of heat sensors within the thatch around the chimney, which will give an early warning of any overheating of the thatch.
  • The higher the chimney the better. If you are thinking of putting in a log burner you may have to modify your chimney, this is so sparks can die away before they drop on to the thatch.
  • Electrical wiring should be checked regularly.

Survey

Roof surveys start at £150 and are important for anyone looking to buy a thatched property. Surveyors will be able to tell you when the roof was last replaced, what type of thatch it is, if any repairs need to be done, and the cost of having it maintained or replaced.

Regulating temperature

You might constantly hear that old buildings are constantly cold, but that isn’t always the case. Thatching creates air pockets within structure of the thatch that traps and holds heat, insulating a building in both warm and cold weather.

Value

Last but not least… Whilst not everyone wants the hassle of a thatched roof (many due to misconceptions!), thatched properties tend to hold their value as they are more niche and rarer than other types of homes!

No, you’re not going crazy…

It’s currently 2am and I am in the midst of an anxiety meltdown. It’s times like this where I lay awake for hours searching my issues in the internet, desperately trying to seek validation or for someone to tell me everything will be okay.

For those who don’t know what anxiety is or question if they have it or are just going crazy, the best way I can explain it is an all consuming fear that can grip you at any moment. Your thoughts may be completely irrational to someone else, but to you those thoughts flood your every waking moment to the point you wonder if you truly are going insane.

I’ve been an anxious person for a long time. I don’t know the exact cause but I know I was a quietly anxious child. By quietly I mean I would hide my anxieties as these originated as a form of empathy for others, part of that was keeping my emotions are secret so I wouldn’t worry anyone else. As a child I believe these anxieties amassed themselves into bouts of misophonia, the hatred of certain sounds. ‘Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee.’

I never recognised this anger (usually the sound of people eating) was caused by anxiety, until I became an adult and I realised that when I was happiest, I could tolerate being in the same room as someone who was eating, and when I was at my most anxious, I would pull my hair out and scream at the smallest of crunches. For years my anxieties improved, until I began a job in which a lot of things could go wrong. Being a travel consultant was always my dream, and for the first three months I adored it, I woke up excited to go to work. Then a new member of the team joined who was a narcissist and a compulsive liar, he also loved to make me feel like crap. It was as if every waking moment of his working life he would want to put me down, belittle me and call me out on issues that could happen to anyone. He started contacting me on my days off and in the evenings, telling me I was in trouble, that I had made a mistake at work and there would be repercussions the next day. He would force me to call clients to apologise, he would tell me my customers were coming in to see me as they were unhappy with me. The thing is, it was all a lie… I specifically remember one night being so riddled with worry I didn’t sleep a wink. I had made a small error on a booking that was easily fixable and this colleague told me I had ruined his day, that he spent all day fixing my problems and I would have to spend the next day doing all his work to make up for it. He also told me the customer would be coming in to speak to me and he was ‘very unhappy’, I remember crying in the toilets that morning dreading going to my desk. Yet when the client arrived and I was fully braced to have him scream in my face, he produced a box of chocolates, thanking me for arranging his holiday and he was excited to go. There was no anger, my colleague made it all up, he then proceeded to take the box of chocolates away from me and said he deserved them more.

This led to the worst anxiety of my life. I used to get the train to work but had to stop and drive instead because every morning I would imagine throwing myself in front of the train. I couldn’t do that to my parents or the train driver, but it was a recurring thought. Work became hell, having to sit and listen to his lies, listen to him badmouth me to customers and colleagues when in reality, I was picking up his own slack where he was outright rude to customers and refused to do the work. I ended up quitting with no work to go to, I knew I had to put my mental health before work so I did, and it paid off.

The last few years (I quit almost four years ago) have been a rollercoaster. Whilst the anxiety eased, it was always there, laying dormant like a volcano, ready to be triggered at any moment. Even four years later there are times I want to call up the CEO of the company and scream at him down the phone , ‘how could you let this happen to one of your employees?!’. In fact, it wasn’t one, it was a whole team, we all ended up leaving.

I kept myself busy the last few years with travel and new job opportunities. A new marriage, watching my nieces and nephews grow, spending time with family and also making new friends. All that kept me sane, then I got a dog…

Let me start of by saying I don’t regret getting a dog, in fact, he is my pride and joy, my whole world. But the issue is I now seem to worry about Baxter, all day, and all night. He is so precious to me that I live in a constant state of paranoia that something might go wrong, that he might be sad, be hungry, be anxious, be sick, all of the above. The reason why I’m awake right now is because my dog began crying just after 1am. My body is in tune with him the way a mother is in tune with her new born baby. He could make the quietest of whimpers and my mind is suddenly on full alert.

Baxter has always been a good sleeper, since the day we got him he has slept through the night. However, he has a grain intolerance and a sensitive tummy. There have been a handful of occasions when he has needed to poop in the night, and he has cried out for someone to let him outside, and that’s what happened tonight. So why am I awake over an hour later? Because even though I let him outside to do his business and he trotted back with a wagging tail, I am creating a whole host of scenarios in my head of why he needed the toilet in the night. Has he eaten something he’s allergic to? Is he sick? Has he got a blockage? Does he have anxiety? What is wrong with him?! Deep down I know he’s a dog, and just needed to poop, just like humans do sometimes, but the worry is uncontrollable.

The reason I’m writing this is to hopefully help at least one person who feels what I feel, and if they are up at 2 o’clock in the morning Googling whether they’re crazy or not, they will find this article, and know that they are not alone. The worst part is trying to explain yourself to someone who doesn’t understand and they tell you ‘worrying won’t fix anything’. Yep, that’s the last thing we want to hear, if we come to you with our worries, hold us and tell us you’re here for us, that’s what we need, to feel safe and secure.

Amazing Holiday Homes in Cornwall

The Signal Station

An iconic maritime home situated atop the cliffs of world-famous Lizard Peninsula, the Signal Station is the most southerly coastal self-catering home in England. The former signal house was built in 1872 by Fox and Company shipping agents, it was to become as a communication hub for passing ships using flag signalling to direct passing ships whilst communicating with London via telegraph!

Sleeping up to six guests, the property boasts a beautiful dining room with fitted seating around the bay window, giving visitors stunning views south over the Atlantic whilst they enjoy their meals. Whoever is lucky enough to stay in the fourth bedroom can make the most of the adjoining roof terrace, offering 360-degree views of the surrounding coast and countryside.

This home offers all modern extras such as yoga mats, a Smart TV with iPlayer and Netflix, iPad, WiFi internet, built-in charcoal barbecue, scented candles, local produce, luxury linen and towels, not to forget a beautiful Cornish welcome hamper complete with a cream tea!

From £1,995 per week, £1,395 per short break, bookings can be made via Unique Homestays here.

Pebbleline

This cosy stone beach house sits atop a cliff, just a hop, skip and a jump away from a large sandy beach boastings views over Whitsand Bay and the Rame Peninsula. With plenty of privacy, Pebbleline House is located in a beautiful area close to the picturesque fishing village of Polperro.

Guests can enjoy their own outdoor Jacuzzi, Games/ TV room with darts, pool & table football, WIFI, Sky TV, fully-equipped kitchen, terrace, BBQ and sweeping sea views. Those travelling with babies and\or children can relax knowing there are babysitters on call, a chef, and even maid service. The large sandy beach means the kids can let off some steam and for rainy days the children can make the most of the X box or Play Station.

From £1,758 for a long weekend, bookings can be made via Olivers Travels here.

Slipway

Located in one of Cornwall’s most sort after areas, the Slipway in St Ives is a large apartment with a private balcony overlooking Porthmeor’s Blue Flag beach. Beautifully furnished and with a sea view, the airy apartment offers laidback luxury with an atmosphere that encourages guests to slow down, breathe and relax.

Guests can enjoy an excellent location within the town and are able to walk to restaurants, shops and the seafront. The apartment sleeps 6 guests in 3 en suite bedrooms, it also offers private parking and WIFI, no pets allowed.

From £999 per week, bookings can be made via Cornish Secrets here.

Serpentine

Built in a natural curve that follows the cliff edge at the western tip of Whitsand Bay on the south coast of Cornwall, Serpentine is an opulent self-catering beach house that offers freedom and escapism. Located close to the sleepy fishing village of Periwinkle, the property boasts a state of the art interior with a glass exterior that offers guests the chance to soak up some of the UK’s finest nature.

The home sleeps up to 8 guests across a double bedroom master suite with king bed, a link bedroom which can be set up as a king-size double or a twin and two more double bedrooms with en suite bathrooms.

From £2,395 per week, £1,695 per short break, bookings can be made via Unique Homestays here.

The Roundhouse

Make the most of a slower pace of life at The Roundhouse, a beautiful wooden retreat located on a luxurious glamping ground just a short drive from the North Cornwall Coast. A porthole in the roof means couples can stargaze before sleeping amongst little hints of luxury.

An outdoor kitchen cabin makes dining al fresco fun and easy and the en suite bathroom means no sharing a bathroom with other campers! The cabin boasts a handmade king-size bed with underfloor heating and a cosy wood-burning stove so couples can relax as much or as little as they want.

From £259 for a weekend, bookings can be made via Luxury Coastal here.

Damselfly

Cornwall may be famous for its stunning coastline, but why not incorporate the countryside in your stay too? Located on a riverbank on Bodmin Moor, Damselfly is for the wild at heart and those looking for the kind of peace only nature can provide. This is so much more than a woodland cabin, sleeping just 2 guests, Damselfly is the ultimate romantic treat for loved up couples or those looking to reconnect.

Guests can enjoy a double bedroom with a comfy king-size bed, a cosy bathroom with a free-standing bath and separate shower, and a kitchen with gas hob, electric oven, dishwasher and Nespresso machine. Curl up in bed on rainy evenings and make the most of the Smart TV with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Sunny days call for a BBQ on the Weber Kettle charcoal barbecue with logs and kindling to get you going.

From £850 per week, £650 per short break, bookings can be made via Unique Homestays here.

Please note this article was written by myself and is no way affiliated with any of the accommodation booking sites listed.

 

Dog-Friendly Hotels in the Cotswolds

Nothing comes between a man and his dog and luckily for us, the UK recognises that. The Cotswolds is the perfect place for dog lovers, rolling green hills, beautiful views, cosy pubs and a lot of dog-friendly hotels!

Lygon Arms, Broadway

The Lygon Arms is one of the most well-known properties in the whole of the Cotswolds thanks to its celebrity guest list and tip-top service, but did you know you can take your dog along with you too?

The hotel once hosted King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell so a lot of history comes with it, its multi-million-pound refurbishment has made sure to enhance all its quirky characteristics rather than hide so guests can expect to see roaring open fires, a dining room that would rival Hogwarts and beautiful exposed beam ceilings.

Pet beds will magically appear in your room on arrival and of course, treats are provided too.  Your pup can join you for meals in the Lygon Bar or the Lygon lounges where there are some gorgeous spots for your pooch to curl up and go to sleep. A muddy paws station is located in the courtyard so you can wash your dog down after a long country walk.

Prices start at £195 per night, click here to book.

The Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe

Located in the heart of England’s prettiest village, the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe boasts 365 acres of parkland for your four-legged pal to trot around in, your dog will even be offered his/her very own goodie bag.

Doggys are not allowed in the main hotel restaurant but guests are welcome to bring them along to the Castle Inn, the estate’s very own pub offering morning coffee through to delicious dinners.

The Manor House is a 14th Century luxury hotel and golf club with beautifully indulgent suites where no two are the same, guests have the option of choosing their own pillow from a menu, including a comforting pregnancy pillow for expectant mothers!

Prices start at £300 per night, click here to book.

The Fish, nr Broadway

Located in the heart of the countryside, the Fish hotel is a haven for dogs and their owners. Small and medium-sized dogs over one year are welcome in a number of dog-friendly rooms with wooden floors and easy car access. At just £30 per dog per stay, pet pooches can indulge in some delicious treats before retiring to a cosy dog bed, they will even be treated to their own towel so you don’t need to worry about messing up yours!

Dogs are unable to join you in the hotel restaurant but can sit with you in the relaxing bar and lounge where you can enjoy dishes from the bar menu. Much to every dog’s delight, the Fish boasts its own agility course and doggy afternoon tea is also available for £19.50 per pooch.

There are a number of quirky rooms spread out, including 5 Hilly Huts and 3 Treehouses (dog friendly) nestled into the woodland and 5 new Hideaway Huts.

Prices start at £180 per night, click here to book.

Killingworth Castle, nr Woodstock

Located on the edge of the Cotswolds close to the town of Woodstock, the Killingworth Castle is the perfect place to settle down for the night after a day exploring Blenheim Palace. At just £10 per dog, the Killingworth offers the best value package for bringing your pooch along, and with that, he can make the use of his own basket, blankets & bowl along and of course some scrummy treats.

This old coaching inn dates back to the 17th century and laid derelict for over a year before Jim and Claire Alexander rescued it and refurbished the property in 2012, creating an ultra-cosy English home from home with award-winning food and a popular pub.

Prices start at £119 per night, click here to book.

The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach

Nowhere have I felt more welcome with my naughty little puppy than at The Wheatsheaf Inn, where staff spotted the signs of a brewing meltdown in me whilst I tried to control my 5 month old excitable cocker spaniel from jumping on the restaurant table.

The 17th-century coaching inn boasts a central position in the Cotswolds in the bustling village of Northleach. Dogs are welcomed with their very own goody bag whilst you will be greeted with a glass of chilled champagne and thanks to the gorgeous smelling dog shampoo you are offered, your pet pooch will end the day smelling better than ever!

Dogs are happily invited into the bar, the restaurant and can trot around the gardens, late checkout at 1pm means you can take pupster out in for a morning walk and not have to worry about racing back.

Prices start at £88 per night, click here to book.

Widbrook Grange, nr Bradford on Avon

Housed in a grade II listed Georgian farmhouse and surrounded by 11 acres of gardens, Widbrook Grange is the ideal place to stay for those visiting the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. At just £15 per night, pets are allowed in the suites, classic double rooms and family rooms. A comfy doggy bed is provided as well as a selection of tasty treats!

Whilst pups aren’t allowed in the main restaurant, guests have the option of dining in the conservatory with their furry companions. You can also enjoy a doggy afternoon tea which is served daily between 12-5pm at £10.50 per pooch. This includes a tennis ball to take home, choice of Lily’s Kitchen wet food, organic dog biscuits and a puppichino.

Prices start at £113 per night, click here to book.

Horse and Groom, nr Moreton in Marsh

Just minutes from the honey-coloured town of Moreton in Marsh, the Horse and Groom in Bourton on the Hill is a friendly Georgian hotel with a typical country vibe. With just seven bedrooms, guests can expect the utmost service and four of these rooms are pet friendly.

All fluffy guests are provided with beds and bowls and are more than welcome to race around the hotel gardens if they want to!

Prices start at £99 per night, click here to book.

Best Boutique Hotels in London for a Weekend Getaway

Georgian House Hotel

A hotel for Harry Potter lovers, the Georgian House Hotel is a bucket list destination for many fans of this famous movie franchise. Make sleeping at Hogwarts become an almost reality at the Georgian House’s in their Hogwarts-style dorm room.

You don’t have to be Harry Potter crazy to enjoy this hidden gem in Pimlico, the individually designed rooms appeal to most and is just a stone’s throw from Victoria Coach Station so comes in handy for those looking to experience some day trips outside of London.

Weekend prices start at £102 per night, click here to book.

Charlotte Street Hotel

This 52 guestroom hotel is a beautiful venue for a weekend break in London. Charlotte Street Hotel is just minutes from Soho Square, making it ideal to explore London on foot. Guest bedrooms have been designed and furnished in a typically English style and the availability of interconnecting rooms make it an excellent option for family escapes.

Guest areas include a stunning wood-panelled library, its own brasserie, cinema room and a gym!

Weekend prices start at £355 per night, click here to book.

Henrietta Hotel

The perfect boutique hotel located in the heart of Covent Garden, the 18 guest rooms at the Henrietta Hotel were inspired by Covent Garden’s rich history with a nod to Italian design.

Housed inside two Victorian terraced houses, bedrooms boast handmade Art Deco headboards whilst throughout the hotel, you will find hues of forest green and pinks. On the top floor, big spenders can experience the Grand Henrietta suite, complete with a two-person balcony and partial views of the London Eye.

On the first floor, guests can find a French-inspired restaurant in collaboration with chef Ollie Dabbous.

Weekend prices start at £298 per night, click here to book.

Artist Residence

The Artist Residence is a 10-bedroom retreat in Pimlico and a welcomed vision to all Instagrammers!

Filled with contemporary art, warm hospitality and a carefully curated shabby chic style, the Artist Residence is the third property in this up and coming chain and well placed for those wanting to explore the finer parts of London – including the shops of Sloane Square,  the Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea Physic Gardens, Buckingham Palace, Battersea Park and Tate Britain.

Weekend prices start at £260 per night, click here to book.

Zetter Townhouse

The smaller the number of bedrooms, the more focus staff the staff can offer their guests, and with just 13 guestrooms, the Zetter Townhouse is not lacking in excellent service.

Located in the heart of Clerkenwell, the property feels more like the private residence of an eccentric Great Aunt than it does a popular city hotel. For those who want to bring along the whole family, the townhouse can be hired on an exclusive basis.

Weekend prices start at £285 per night, click here to book.

Blakes Hotel

Marketed as London’s first 5* boutique hotel we couldn’t leave out Blakes Hotel, a fine living property opened in the 1970s. Its exclusive location in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Blakes offers a sophisticated allure and service of the highest level.

The hotel was designed by former Bond girl Anouska Hempel, creating a stunning fusion of eastern and western styles. Guests have access to the nearby South Kensington Club but in-room spa treatments are available on request.

Weekend prices start at £271 per night, click here to book.

The Curtain

East London is a brilliant spot if you like a more alternative scene, hipsters, street art and all the avocado on toast you could dream of, Shoreditch has become a small hub and genuinely offers a lot of great restaurants and activities.

The Curtain is home to 120 guestrooms so a little bigger than the other hotels on this list but still offers a boutique vibe. There is a rooftop pool and lounge, 24-hour gym, treatment rooms, co-working space and 6,000 square feet of event space, with a ballroom, screening room and more.

Warehouse living is on the agenda here which is exactly what people want from the area and The Curtain has hit the nail on the head with exposed brickwork and hardwood floors making you feel as though you could be 3,500 miles away in Manhattan.

Weekend prices start at £259 per night, click here to book.

Bingham Riverhouse

Have you ever wanted to visit London but not have to put up with the hustle and bustle on a daily basis? Richmond in south-west London offers much more of a village vibe with great links into the centre (15 minutes to Waterloo Station), sweeping riverside views and easy access to attractions such as Kew Gardens, Ham House and Hampton Court.

The Bingham Riverhouse is a luxury hotel and restaurant with 15 bedrooms that encompass calm, comfort and modern craftsmanship to offer a home from home stay. The interior is completed by droplet chandeliers, Farrow & Ball paint and bespoke art deco-inspired furniture, creating one of the trendiest stays south of the river.

Weekend prices start at £116 per night, click here to book.