The Urban Guide to the Countryside

Lock down Mother’s Day now!

13 Mar 2017

It’s countdown to Mother’s Day on Sunday 26 March and that means, quick, there’s still time to organise something worth getting out of bed for (however tempting staying in bed sounds, but, alas, this is a family day). Here are a few ideas to ponder for you and your family, you and your mum, even you and your mother-in-law (yeah, you can polish that halo).

Sunday lunch down the pub

This is always a great option, Mother’s Day or not, but particularly on the big day when you can sit in the company of your angelic offspring and glory in what a great brood you’re bringing up (OK, wake up now). But maybe they might just behave and you can tuck into a roast with all the trimmings, watch the mudlets make a godawful mess and relax knowing you don’t have to clean it up. The county is bursting with great pubs, but these are my faves: The Woolpack in Slad (Laurie Lee’s old local which oozes with character); The Tunnel House Inn near Cirencester; The Old Crown Inn, Uley; The Ostrich Inn, Newland; The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold and The Beehive in Cheltenham if you don’t want to get muddy feet.

A family walk

If the suggestion of a walk is met with as much moaning as it is at my house, just tell them it’s your day, so you get to call the shots. Some of the pubs mentioned above come with great walks, so you could combine one with Sunday lunch, or there are plenty of stunning gardens to mooch around. Batsford Arboretum is free to mums on the day and has a children’s trail to keep your small people entertained while you admire the spring bulbs. Painswick’s 18th-century Rococo Gardens has a maze to lose the kids in, as well as a leafy woodland walk, an inspiring vegetable garden and fanciful garden buildings. Hidcote’s famous Arts and Crafts garden is probably one of the best gardens in the country and has activities to keep everyone entertained including tennis (period wooden rackets provided) and croquet. Stanway House & Fountain has, yes, a very impressive single-jet fountain spouting up over 300ft in the air, making it the tallest foundation in Britain, as well as other impressive water features from a canal to a cascade. Westbury Court Garden, one of the only surviving 17th-century Dutch water gardens, also offers canals, as well as clipped hedges, ornate garden buildings and old-fashioned orchards.

Squeeze in afternoon tea

I wish I knew how our foremothers managed to eat afternoon tea without becoming huuuge because it’s such an exquisitely feminine repast, which makes it a shoo-in for a Mothering Sunday celebration. The Speech House Hotel, a former 17th-century hunting lodge in the Forest of Dean, has a 1950s retro charm to it and serves traditional afternoon tea in its Orangery . Malmaison in Cheltenham creates beautiful teas (they even do a tasty gluten-free version which isn’t easy) which you can enjoy in its stunning glass conservatory. In the majestic surroundings of Cowley Manor country house hotel, you can ditch tea for champagne and G&Ts (now you’re talking) and dine on tempting confections such as praline & caramel delice and chocolate orange macaron. The Painswick, just down the road from the Rococo Gardens (see above), does afternoon tea with a difference offering a choice of sweet options – giant, lemon scented madeleines, croquette de bourbonnaise – or savoury – British ham and cheese toastie, crisp Scotch egg. The hotel is a hidden gem in the village and also has two treatment rooms (hint, hint).

Mother and daughter pampering (adults only)

There are plenty of great spas in the county to enjoy a mother and daughter bonding session while getting thoroughly pampered – good options are Whatley Manor, Cowley Manor, Calcot Manor (anywhere with a manor in its name really!), as well as Barnsley House, which has a fab outdoor heated hydrotherapy pool and a cinema room, where there will be a screening of Mother’s Day, a rom com starring Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts and Jason Sudeikis. The film starts at 5pm giving you plenty of spa time beforehand, and afterwards you get supper at the hotel’s restaurant The Potager, so go easy on the popcorn. Daylesford also has a rather swish spa, Bamford Haybarn Spa, a ‘wellness retreat’ that offers a whole range of tempting treatments from a deep tissue massage (book one for your mum and she’ll receive a complimentary candle) to a pedicure ‘ritual’ where, as well as getting your toes painted, you’ll enjoy a full lower leg exfoliation. Shopping opportunities are rich at Daylesford too – the homes section upstairs, in particular, has a beautiful display of cleaning utensils, from ostrich feather dusters to scrubbing brushes, which look like they come straight out of the servants’ quarters in Downton Abbey. They almost make you want to go home and give your home a spring clean, but then again, maybe not.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Gloucestershire Edition