A refuge from the stresses of modern life, Lantern Cottage, which was showcased in the November 2009 issue of Period House and featured in Warwickshire Life (May 2010), will take 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.
For theatre lovers, it's just a 15-minute drive to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, where you can also visit buildings going back to Shakespeare's time and earlier. Not only that, there are river trips, a Picture House, pubs and restaurants for all budgets and plenty to attract shoppers.
Outdoor types can walk straight from our doorstep on to a public footpath, leading to the Avon, with a lock and narrow boats one way, and fields leading to Bidford and its shops the other (and beyond to Stratford). Excellent fishing right along this stretch of the Avon is available for Birmingham Anglers Association members - just two minutes' walk away, and you can easily join online. The whole area is a network of footpaths, lovely, varied scenery and an abundance of pubs. Welford-on-Avon Golf Course, Bidford Gliding and Studley Manor are five minutes away, as are National Trust (and other) properties. If you prefer to cycle to any of these, you can hire a bike from Stratford Bikes.
|Size||Sleeps up to 2, 1 bedrooms|
|Will consider||Corporate bookings, Long term lets (over 1 month)|
|Nearest Amenities||2 km|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Birmingham 83 km, Nearest railway: Evesham 12.8 km|
|Notes||Some pets are welcome - please contact the owner, No smoking at this property|
|Luxuries||Log fire, Internet access, DVD player|
|General||Central heating, TV, CD player, Wi-Fi available|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Iron, Hair dryer|
|Utilities||Clothes dryer, Dishwasher, Cooker, Microwave, Fridge, Freezer, Washing machine|
|Rooms||1 bedroom, 1 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms|
|Furniture||Double beds (1), Dining seats for 2, Lounge seats for 4|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided|
|Outdoors||Balcony or terrace, Private garden, BBQ|
|Further details indoors|
This is a very pretty, bijou cottage that combines old-world charm with modern facilities - the kitchen is very well resourced with everything you need to prepare a gourmet meal - from hand mixer, blender, wok and steamer baskets to cafetière, coffee grinder and serving dishes. For the cook in a hurry, there's also a microwave/grill. In the cupboards, you will find tinned tomatoes and beans, pasta, herbs and spices, olive oil - enough to prepare a pasta sauce without going to the shops. Easy peasy. There's also five types of tea, coffee beans, ground coffee and instant coffee - even homemade jam for midnight snacks. And, if you want to be informal, there's a traditional kitchen table for casual meals.
The living room, which features an inglenook fireplace (free logs in the shed) and exposed beams, overlooks the front garden. It's great for chilling with Freeview television, a CD player with dozens of CDs, a DVD player and DVDs and games - plus there's a comfy sofa with cushions and patchwork throw, should the temperature drop. There are candles and tea lights in holders for romantic lighting. The small dining table with antique pendant light and oversized carved candlestick provides the perfect setting for an intimate dinner for two.
The old, twisting elm staircase (make sure you don't trip) leads to the galleried study with an antique desk, complete with ample stationery, where you can work online (or take your iPad wherever you like with wifi access), and a selection of books. A comfy easy chair with cushions and side table provide the perfect spot to hide yourself away with a book. There's also a hatbox with guides and maps inside.
Leading from the study is a compact, airy bedroom with a comfortable double bed, feather pillows and duvet (If you have a feather or dust allergy, ask at the time of booking for a synthetic duvet and pillows to be made up instead.), ample storage and a radio on the curtained shelves by the bed. There's a sewing kit and buttons in another hatbox on the side. The fitted wardrobe is in the study.
|Further details outdoors|
The walled back garden has a sunny patio with herbs, flowers and shrubs in the borders. There's a table and chairs for al fresco dining facing the lawn - you can pass the food and china out from the nearby kitchen window. The rest of the garden is laid out with a small curving lawn, well-stocked flowerbeds, box hedges and topiaries. At the end in a sunny spot is a wrought iron bench, where you can sit with a glass of wine and the crossword or a book. On the side patio, where the wall fountain is, there is another small bench and tiny - very pretty - side table. There's also the space / slot for the rotary dryer, which is kept in the shed.
The shed contains a freezer (top drawer for guests), barbecue, rotary dryer and logs. You can store your bikes in the shed as well.
The cupboards are ready stocked with fresh and instant coffee, four types of tea, drinking chocolate, dried goods, oils and vinegar, condiments, rice, pasta and spices etc - enough to prepare a simple pasta dish. You will also find milk and biscuits on arrival and flowers on the table. Homemade jam is in the cupboard as well. A fire will be laid in the wood burner and more wood is available in the shed at no extra charge. If you want us to arrange for your groceries to be delivered, there is a £5 charge. Alternatively, use Tesco! There's a catalogue in the living room.
If there are any problems, the concierge lives down the lane.
From Marlcliff, you step out into richly beautiful and varied countryside - and a cultural gem. The RSC is based in Stratford, which is a 15-minute drive away, and particularly lovely in the winter. The two main theatres are now open for booking, complete with a spectacular viewing tower. Recent reviews have been very good.
Activities in Stratford are varied, including 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. Details at www.visitstratforduponavon.co.uk. There are several good restaurants, including The Opposition in Sheep Street, which is ideal for pre-theatre meals - booking advised. Alternatively, try the theatre goers' pub, the Mucky Duck, opposite the Swan Theatre, which is always fun and provides an opportunity to name-check RSC actors. Foodies will like the farmers' market on the first and third Saturday of the month.
North of Stratford is medieval Warwick with its castle on the Avon. A complete contrast is the Regency town of Leamington Spa, while its counterpart, Cheltenham, is rightly known as the cultural centre for the region. As well as the Everyman Theatre, it hosts the nationally known literature festival plus jazz, science and food and drink festivals. Montpellier (the Regency part) is lovely for independent shops, cafés and bars.
Broadway, Winchcombe and Bourton-on-the-Water are all built in traditional style in honey-coloured Cotswold stone, all very different, and all worth a visit. Of these, Winchcombe is our favourite, with a working pottery and several smart restaurants and shops. Railway enthusiasts might want to visit the small rail museum.
Sudeley Castle is off Winchcombe, and you wouldn't want to miss that, what with the gardens and many events. To get to both, you drive through Broadway, which is Cotswolds in aspic, but worth at least one visit. Near Broadway, up the hill, is Snowshill Manor, a very English, wildly eccentric estate with wonderful gardens.
As for on-your-doorstep sights, the site of the former abbey in Evesham with its magnificent bell tower is well worth a visit, as is the nearby timber-framed Almoner's House. From there, you can walk along the river through one of the longest avenues of elms in the region.
The area is not all heritage, though. Birmingham is only 45 minutes away and offers not just the National Exhibition Centre, but Birmingham Rep, a revamped canalside area with restaurants, bars and shops (think Christmas shopping) - and the wonderful Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Shoppers should make for the new Selfridges and the Mailbox, while the chocolate lover's favourite is Cadbury World in Bourneville, of course!
Also great for Christmas shopping is Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, the UK's premier designer outlet, offering many reduced-price bargains. You could probably do all your Christmas shopping there - and have a meal at the same time. It's about a 40-minute drive, but worth it.
The closest town, Bidford, is a walk away over the fields (or a five-minute drive), and you can do your weekly shop there at a very good Budgeons plus buy bread and cakes from the independent bakery. There are some good pubs - the Frogis the current favourite, while the Shakespeare Inn in Welford does a good, cheap meal - and several restaurants and take-aways. There's also a post office, paper shop, Lloyds Bank (open every day), hairdresser's and chemist.
If you're sporty, then Bidford Gliding Club could suit you, while cyclists are very well catered for. You can hire bikes from the Welford outpost of Stratford Bike Hire (5 minutes' cycle from our cottage) and then immediately cycle off along the Stratford Greenway, part of the National Cycle Network. Fishing too is an excellent option, which simply involves joining Birmingham Anglers Association. The river bank is a five-minute stroll away.
Walkers have easy access not only to the Greenway, which you can access from Welford-on-Avon, but also the Heart of England Way see Ramblers Association for major walkways, local walks and local groups). Stratford has miles of walking along the river - right up to Marlcliff, though some is along the road.
Altogether, it is so lovely, you might want to treat a friend to a voucher for a short break - or longer. Can do. Just ring or email for details.