Just 15 minutes' drive from Stratford-upon-Avon, Lantern Cottage offers a refuge from the stresses of modern life. Featured on the front page of Period House magazine and showcased in Warwickshire Life, the detached cottage takes you back in time to the cosiness of an open fire, exposed beams, antiques and curtains drawn against the cold . . . but with 21st century amenities.
On summer days, you can sunbathe in our pretty walled garden or eat on the patio as the fountain plays near by.
Inside, there's a log burner (as well as central heating) with free logs, CDs, DVDs and Freeview downstairs. Upstairs, you can work online at the antique desk in the study or read one of our books in an easy chair. Alternatively, with wifi, you check your emails in the comfort of the living room - or in the garden on a fine day.
The cottage isn't suitable for children (too much scope for accidents - and breakage), but it would - and does - suit a couple with babes in arms, as the study, which is next door to the bedroom, is ideally suited for a cot.
On Your Doorstep
Bidford is a walk away over the fields, and you can do your weekly shop there at the supermarket - and buy bread and cakes from the independent bakery. There are some good pubs - the Frog is the current favourite -and several restaurants, including the Bridge, and take-aways (Indian, Chinese and fish & chips). There's also a post office, baker's, butcher's, paper shop, Lloyds Bank (open daily), florist's, hairdresser's and chemist.
Nearby Welford not only boasts a rated pub with posh food, the Bell, but also marks one end of the Stratford Greenway, a former railway line, now laid out for cyclists and walkers. It is a most enjoyable way of getting to Stratford, particularly as there is a converted railway carriage where you can sit down to tea and cakes and hire a bike. Of interest to open-air types are Bidford Gliding Club, literally round the corner, Welford Golf Course 10 minutes' drive away, Stratford Race Course and fishing literally a five-minute stroll away for members of Birmingham Anglers Association (you can join online).
Stratford, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a 15-minute drive away - or you can take a signposted walk there from Marlcliff. The main RSC theatre has been rebuilt and extended, complete with a tower from which you can get an excellent view of the surrounding area. The lovely Swan Theatre, which replicates a 17th century theatre, can now be reached from the main foyer, which is good in the rain! There are also a poetry festival, literary festival, the summer season of the Orchestra of the Swan and, of course, grand celebrations round Shakespeare's birthday on 23 April. There are lots of restaurants, and the theatre goers' pub, the Mucky Duck, frequented by actors, is opposite the Swan Theatre - and always fun. Foodies will like the farmers' market on the first and third Saturday of the month.
Within Easy Access
There is a great deal going on in the area, as it is a hive of activity - both low and high culture.
Cheltenham hosts the Everyman Theatre, while Montpellier, Cheltenham's Regency district, is great for independent shops, cafés, including the Michelin-starred Champignon Sauvage, and trendy bars. Just a short drive from the cottage are Winchcombe with its nationally regarded pottery, and picture-postcard-pretty Bourton-on-the-Water and Broadway - the latter's near Snowshill Manor, a wildly eccentric estate with wonderful gardens. Then, of course, there's Hidcote Manor, which popularised garden 'rooms' to stunning effect.
Birmingham (45 minutes away) offers the National Exhibition Centre and Bourneville World, the Birmingham Eye (like the London one), Birmingham Rep, the Royal Ballet and Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Shops like Harvey Nicholls are in the Mailbox (with underground car park), which leads on to the revamped canals - you get a fantastic view from the restaurant end of the Mailbox, walking down, it seems, straight onto the narrow boats. The waterfront is littered with great bars and restaurants. Did you know Birmingham has more canals than Venice? And it is wonderful to walk along, as well as being just a few minutes' walk from the wonderful Symphony Halls with its flawless acoustics.
Summer festivals – from music to literature - easily accessed from Lantern Cottage include:
* AsparaFest 2014 – as well as asparagus, there’s usually workshops, a cookery kitchen etc. Badsey, Nr Evesham, Worc. Early June.
* Cheltenham Science Festival – from the origins of the universe to cocktails, cakes and cats. June.
* Cheltenham Music Festival.
* Cheltenham Literature Festival. Usually Oct.
Altogether, it's so lovely you might want to give a special friend a Lantern Cottage voucher for short break - or longer. Just ask.