Monday, 16 December 2013

Merry Christmas from BestInTheCountry!

Here at we would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you and to thank you for giving us a brilliant year. We are looking forward to an exciting year of further development and expansion in 2014 and, of course, we'll be keeping you updated with all of our latest news!

So, to all of you, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Best of British Christmas

This Christmas why not make it a celebration of all things British. Support your local community and eschew supermarket fare and mass produced decorations for something locally homemade and unique. When you scratch the surface you're sure to find amazing creativity and delicious produce available right on your doorstep; farmers markets, delis and gift or craft shops are a great place to start. As well as gathering the freshest ingredients for your Christmas cooking you can pick up quirky gifts, hand made decorations and cards, often for a fraction of the price you'd pay on the high street. If you're struggling to find places to shop, the websites and are great places to browse a selection of modern British craft from independent craftspeople.

Hunting for the perfect, real Christmas tree is a tradition loved by many families and you probably already know the best places local to you – word of mouth and local press tend to spread the word quite effectively. If you're not sure where to look, start with the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Their website can help you search for growers in your area.
This December the BCTGA awarded a lifetime achievement award to Ivor Dungey, who owns Santa Trees in Liskeard, Cornwall. Setting up his christmas tree business aged 17, he has provided his local community with the trees for 60 years. In that time he has produced around 100,000 trees to become one of the country's best christmas tree growers – with up to 20 varieties. Producing the trees is a full time job with each one taking 8-9 years to grow and year round care required.

Every christmas time magazines and newspapers run 'taste tests' on Christmas puddings to find the consumers favourite. Ironically, most of the supermarket brand puddings are all produced in one factory in the Midlands, it's a brilliant operation but the puds are hardly home made. If you look outside the supermarkets you will find a growing number of small, artisan producers making delicious puddings. Markets, farm shops and deli's are great places to start looking. With their focus being on quality over quantity you get the added bonus of a limited edition or 'exclusive' feel!
One producer who have been put to the test this year are The Ultimate Plum Pudding Company in Kendal, Cumbria. They have the honour of creating Fortnum and Mason's 'Nuts About Christmas' Pudding, which will contain a delicious brandy butter filling. As a luxurious nod to the traditions of bygone years, one will contain a gold sovereign coin worth £200.

If turkey is your first choice of festive meat, your local butcher is a great place to make your order if you want locally sourced produce from a reputable supplier. If you want to push the boat out and try something a little different, you might well be able to purchase locally sourced wild game such as rabbit and pheasant. As well as being traditional and a welcome change, these meats are much more environmentally friendly as they don't involve factory farming or transportation.

Last but not least, the festive tipple. Mulled cider is a great choice of drink for casual gatherings, especially if you're out and about on cold nights! There are many producers of cider across the country and most can be found at Christmas markets sampling their delicious mulled cider. One great example is The Orchard Pig, based in Glastonbury. Their fun, quirky branding and rustic charm are sure to delight and bring festive cheer!


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

You're probably well under way with your Christmas shopping by now, or if you're super organised you'll have already finished, and wrapped, and be sitting back with a mince pie! If you're still looking for something special for the gentlemen on your list, look no further than  We have a wide range of men's clothing, footwear and accessories for all ages and tastes!

Big Gifts:

If you're looking to splash out on something extra special we have the beautiful Aigle Downbrook Jacket. Superbly soft and warm, lined in duck down, it is certain to last for many winters to come. For a touch of timeless style, the Barbour Classic Beaufort is a seasoned favourite for all ages. Barbour's Leather Briefcase makes an ideal gift for hard working gents. Crafted in durable leather and featuring a Barbour tartan lining.

For smaller gifts, take a look at our range of knitwear. For a 'smart but fun' jumper check out Joules' Retford Jumper, available in a variety of colours, shown above in ruby. Ideal for keeping warm and perfect for layering is the Barbour Tyne Crew Neck Sweater and for a sporty, casual option take a look at the Joules Norwell Rugby Shirt, shown above in Ruby Stripe. If you're unsure about buying clothing, Barbour also give us the Leather Washbag; a classic style to suit nearly all tastes.

Finally, the stocking fillers. We have an extensive range of gloves, scarves and hats for you to choose from, a tiny selection of ideas are shown above. Barbour's Fairisle Gloves are fun, patterned gloves, made in 100% lambswool. We have a huge selection of country ties, shown above is the Woven Silk Tie in Duck Design, or click here to view the full range. A fun, popular choice of gift is the Crown Joules range of underwear. Available in several designs and colours, these are bold, bright and cheeky! Last but not least, no Christmas would be complete without a pair of socks! Above are the Joules Bamboo Socks.  

Friday, 29 November 2013

Winter Country Clothing

Winter 2013 is all about heritage; plaid designs, chunky knitwear, bold patterns, tan leather accessories and tweed are all in the spotlight this season. These elements can be easily combined for a smart casual look or individual pieces worked into a smart outfit for a dash of heritage flair.

The Beautiful Aurnia Tweed Jacket, in red

For women, a plaid shirt is a great place to start and looks great with jeans for a casual chic look. At best in the country we have a variety of ladies plaid and check shirts to suit all tastes.

Layer up with some printed knitwear to brighten your look, the Joules Marsha Jumper shown in the Duck design will add 'country credentials' to any outfit. Accessorise with some beautiful tan leather, such as the Barbour Leather Utility Bag and wrap up in tweed with the stunning Jack Murphy Aurnia Tweed Jacket.

Barbour Leather Utility Bag

Men too can, (and should!) enjoy some colourful printed knitwear this season. Use layering to create your desired look and accessorise with tan leather brogues and a bag to complete the heritage look.

The boldly patterned Martingale Shawl

To truly embrace this season's printed knitwear trend, take a look at the Barbour Martingale Shawl; ideal teamed with cords or jeans and a t-shirt. The Joules Dempsey Crew Neck Jumper is a simple, chunky knit jumper, with button detailing to the shoulder. Wear with a bodywarmer such as Jack Murphy's Nevin Quilted Gilet or Barbour's Greenshore Gilet for an instant country casual style.

Ideal for pairing with a shirt is the Joules Retford Jumper. Pair with a check shirt such as the Barbour Castlehill or Rannoch and complete the outfit with a smart blazer. Barbour's Lead Blazer is a perfect, smart choice.

Lead Blazer, shown in Navy

Add a touch of classic style with tan leather brogues and a smart bag. We stock Barbour's beautiful Leather Briefcase and Tarras Bag.

Barbour Leather Briefcase

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Super Self Sufficiency

The concept of self sufficiency has come a long way since The Goode Life first hit our screens. No longer seen as eccentric or unnecessarily difficult, the tide of fashion has turned and with people once again taking an interest in sourcing local produce, either for health, economic or ethical reasons, interest in growing your own seasonal produce, poultry keeping and rare breeds is at a high. This isn't just a countryside quirk, reserved for us privileged folk with plenty of green space and fresh air. In the towns and cities community projects are in place to encourage people to take an interest in growing their own veg and interest in allotments means there are waiting lists for plots; in 2013 there were 52 people waiting per 100 plots in the UK.

As well as being an interesting and rewarding hobby, growing your own can be a handy way of earning a little extra cash. If you decide that your plot is produce more fruit, veg or eggs than you can keep up with or store, you will no doubt find it very easy to sell; organic fruit and veg and free range eggs are desirable products and you may well find people in the local community eager to take them off your hands.

One line of business that is growing in popularity across the country is alpaca farming. These characterful creatures are small enough to be kept on a couple of acres (around five alpacas per acres is recommended) but also make brilliant 'guard dogs' – scaring off foxes and safeguarding your poultry. Alpacas are a specialist animal and will require enough space to exercise, special camelid feed and warm, dry, spacious shelter. They will need regular toenail trimming to avoid foot problems and movement licence regulations must be observed. Not to mention the hours of your time everyday devoted to their care.

In the spring or early summer they will need to have their heavy coats shorn. Alpaca wool is exquisitely soft and very fashionable and can sell at a high price. As alpaca numbers rise and a high demand is placed on mills, it can take a long time for the raw fleece to be spun and dyed into usable wool. Whether you plan to sell the wool or enjoy using it to create your own products, it will certainly be worth the wait.

Chickens are a popular choice in gardens and smallholdings; what could be more rewarding than a constant supply of tasty eggs, freshly laid each day. Chickens require space to roam and exhibit their natural behaviour and if you live in a residential area you will need to consider your neighbours; in an enclosed environment unpleasant smells may be a problem as well as other environmental factors. Your chickens will also need a solid, sturdy pen or chicken house to keep them safe from foxes overnight. If you are feeling charitable, the British Hen Welfare Trust rehomes ex battery hens. These birds respond brilliantly to the change in scenery (and fortune!) and will have many more egg laying years ahead of them.

Whatever self-sufficiency project you have in mind or are able to facilitate, you will be reaping the benefits each time you enjoy the fruits of your labour.  

Friday, 15 November 2013

For years an English country staple, the refined Afternoon Tea is back in fashion favour. Up and down the country tea rooms are jam packed with those seeking a little genteel indulgence and tea rooms and hotels are having to move with the times to stay ahead in this lucrative market.

Champagne afternoon teas are a popular choice for those looking for a little extra luxury, but many establishments, particularly in London, are branching out further into more exotic territory.
Chinese and Japanese afternoon tea is enjoying growing popularity in the capital, offering a wide variety of teas with elegant dim sum or light, healthy treats in place of sandwiches and pastries.

It is to Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford to whom we owe thanks for this ritual. In an era when it was commonplace to have just two meals a day, an early breakfast and dinner served later in the evening, she was tired by hunger pangs and decided to set aside time each afternoon to take tea and light refreshments, privately. Over time she was joined by friends and acquaintances and the practice was perpetuated.

Whether you are looking for traditional cream teas, or something a little different, you are bound to be spoiled for choice with the options out there. Here we compile a list of the finest afternoon tea establishments across the country.

Claridges, in the heart of London's Mayfair, would be the first place to come to mind for many people. Taking afternoon tea in the Foyer or Reading Room of this stunning art deco hotel is a highlight of any trip to the capital. An elegant, refined atmosphere is created with live music, excellent service and a quintessentially English menu, including a selection of finger sandwiches, pastries and scones, all made from the finest ingredients and sourced from British suppliers. Consecutively given the Award of Excellence by the Tea Guild, afternoon tea is served daily at 3pm, 3.30pm, 5pm and 5.30pm.

Claridges Afternoon Tea

Teanamu Chaya Teahouse, Notting Hill. A haven of tranquility, this oriental inspired tea room offers delicate, handmade patisserie and chinese dim sum accompanied by elegant Chinese and Japanese teas in an atmosphere of serenity. With a focus on health and relaxation, guests can learn how the tea rituals of Chinese and Japanese culture expand mindfulness and offer wisdom and relaxation.

The Bar Lounge at Grand Imperial's Oriental Afternoon Tea (at The Grosvenor Hotel) offers a lovely relaxing space in which to enjoy an Asian inspired afternoon tea, recently voted in the top 10 of London's best afternoon teas by The Telegraph. Enjoy a variety of beautifully presented mouth watering Cantonese delicacies.

Cantonese Style Afternoon Tea at the Grand Imperial

The Goring Hotel in Belgravia received the Tea Guild's prestigious award for the capital of Top London Afternoon Tea 2013. This luxury hotel has been serving quintessentially English afternoon tea since the day it opened in 1910 and, which 103 years of experience, has mastered the perfect menu.

The Goring Hotel
In Edinburgh, The Balmoral Hotel serves afternoon tea in the Palm Court. An atmosphere of refinement is created with live harp music and guests have the option of a champagne afternoon tea. The menu begins with the chef's amuse bouche, followed by a selection of sandwiches, scones and desserts, before finishing with treats from the trolley.

Bovey Castle, located in Dartmoor National Park. We couldn't do a piece about afternoon tea without including one example from Devon. Built in 1890, Bovey Castle was named by Red Magazine as one of the top six places in the UK for afternoon tea. Guests can enjoy warm scones, finger sandwiches, homemade cakes and a selection of teas in the dining room or on the terrace overlooking the gardens.
Bettys (no apostrophe) have six tearooms across Yorkshire and offer a staggering selection of teas to cater for every taste. Try the Imperial Room in Harrogate, with it's crystal chandeliers and live piano music, or the Belmont Room in York, a wood panelled, art deco interior with live piano music.

Bovey Castle, Dartmoor.

For old English charm and hospitality, visit The Bridge Tea Room in Bradford on Avon. A 'Hansel and Gretel' style exterior leads to a cosy and traditional dining room which is filled with homely trinkets, wooden beams and fine bone china. They offer a range of afternoon teas, including 'masters and mistresses' teas for children.

Old world charm at The Bridge Tea Rooms
The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath is one of only two Grade 1 listed hoteks in the UK. Beautifully decorated in period style and featuring a beautiful collection of antiques and fine paintings, it is the perfect venue to spoil yourself with the delicious teas on offer. Afternoon tea is served in the stunning secret gardens, or inside the cosy lounge complete with roaring fire. For tea with a difference, the hotel can arrange a cruise along the scenic Kennet and Avon Waterway in a 1923 Thames River launch, with a luxury afternoon tea for two aboard the Lady Sophina.  

Afternoon Tea at The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Shooting Outfit

If there is one thing that defines Britishness, it is our love of ceremony and tradition, and the wearing of a shooting outfit is an act which is both deeply mired in the field sports tradition and, when worn 'properly', almost ceremonious in it's fine details.

Whilst, aesthetically, the shooting outfit exudes British upper class charm and heritage, it's functional purpose is to camouflage the wearer in the field and offer protection against the British elements, whilst maintaining freedom of movement. Winter shooting attire should keep the wearer warm and dry, without restricting movement.

The key to cold weather dressing is layering and shooting garments are perfectly designed to be pieced together to create a warm and waterproof suit.

Starting with the first layers, Shooting Socks come up over the calf and are held in place with garters. Pennine have a good range of shooting socks and garters, such as the Pennine Mayfair Cashmere Shooting Sock and the Contrast Garter. To add a splash of colour to your outfit, Laksen offer the Harlequin Stocking, in merino wool.

Breeks (Scottish dialect for breeches) are similar to plus fours in length, but with less fullness. The bottom seam of the breeks is important as it needs to work with the sock to make the outfit waterproof. For comfort, braces can be worn to hold the breeks in place. Musto have a beautiful range of shooting attire. In this article we will focus on the Stretch Technical Tweed outfit from Musto, comprising Jacket, Waistcoat and Breeks. Designed to work together, and composed of a Scottish wool, nylon and lycra material for added stretch and durability. The breeks feature a weatherproof, breathable drop-liner and adjustable hem.

Moving onwards and upwards to the shirt. The favoured design for shooting shirts is a tattersall pattern, cut loosely to allow for freedom of movement. Barbour's Sporting Country Tattersall is a specific shooting shirt, in 100% cotton, with a superior cut and longer body length.

For additional warmth in bitterly cold weather, a sleeveless, wool waistcoat makes a perfect second layer. A waistcoat is preferable to a pullover or cardigan as it allows for freedom of movement around the arms. Musto's Stretch Technical Tweed Waistcoat features vents to the back to allow air flow and a D30 Recoil Pad facility at the shoulder.

Musto's Stretch Technical Tweed JacketWaistcoat and Breeks

The outer layer of the outfit is the jacket. Practical features to look out for when selecting a shooting jacket include the protection it offers against the elements; such as a weatherproof lining, stormflap and ribbed inner cuffs. Additional practical features might include generous, bellow pockets and internal zipped pockets. The Musto Stretch Technical Tweed Jacket comprises all of these features and, together with the breeks and waistcoat, completes a stylish and traditional outfit.

If you prefer not to wear tweed the most suitable alternative is Gore-tex, in a classic colour such as moss. Lighter than tweed, Gore-tex still looks great in the field and is renowned for it's weatherproofing properties. Musto's Whisper Jacket, in moss, has been designed to reduce rustle noise when moving and to be virtually silent.

When standing for long hours out in the elements, a good pair of boots is essential. Lined boots with grip are advisable for warmth and comfort. Hunter's Balmoral Hawksworth Boots, winner of the Shooting Industry's New Footwear Product of the Year Award 2012, are a good choice.

Accessories to complete the look include Shooting Gloves. Many options are available, including Barbour's Leather Shooting Gloves which are suitable for both left and right handers, with a fold back trigger finger on each glove. Musto make an excellent Wetgrip Shooting Glove, a close fitting glove that retains grip even when wet.

Two beautiful accessories to complete any shooting outfit are Musto's Leather Gunslip and Cartridge Bag. Designed to compliment each other they are hand crafted in England using Italian leather and feature solid brass hardware.

Last but not least, you've kitted yourself out in magnificent British heritage style, but health and safety is still an important consideration! Our Bisley Active Ear Protectors will safeguard your hearing and Musto's D30 Recoil Shield and D30 Recoil Pad are an excellent, innovative new design to absorb impact energy.

With all of this in place you are ready to go out and enjoy field sports without compromising an inch on style or practicality!  

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Bonfire Party

With Halloween behind us, the next event in the social diary is, of course, Bonfire Night.

As a celebration it is, unfortunately, quickly becoming overshadowed by the lure of Halloween, but with the right planning, a Bonfire party can be a great night, guaranteed to draw in friends and neighbours looking to avoid the overpriced and crowded organised events.

The tradition of lighting bonfires in November precedes the Gunpowder plot. In Ireland and Scotland fires were lit on the hilltops on the 1st of November to mark the first day of winter. In North Wales the autumnal fire was called coel coeth and was accompanied by rituals such as leaping through the fire, throwing nuts into the fire and biting at apples suspended from a string.

This history of bonfire night should be taken as encouragement to celebrate the start of winter with the community and share some warming, wholesome food. No Bonfire party would be complete without good, hearty food, to give your guests something to stay for and chat over after the excitement of the fireworks. Why not try spicy sausages in french baguettes with mustard and caramelised onions, or homemade beef burgers in seeded baps. Cups of pumpkin soup are a great way to use up the halloween pumpkin and baked camembert with rustic garlic bread is a great sharing dish to bring everyone together.

Toffee Apples are a favourite with both children and adults and BBC Good Food gives us a simple recipe or these festive treats:

  • 8 Granny Smith apples
  • 400g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  1. Place the apples in a large bowl, then cover with boiling water (you may have to do this in 2 batches). This will remove the waxy coating and help the caramel to stick. Dry thoroughly and twist off any stalks. Push a wooden skewer or lolly stick into the stalk end of each apple.
  2. Lay out a sheet of baking parchment and place the apples on this, close to your stovetop. Tip the sugar into a pan along with 100ml water and set over a medium heat. Cook for 5 mins until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the vinegar and syrup. Set a sugar thermometer in the pan and boil to 140C or 'hard crack' stage. If you don’t have a thermometer you can test the toffee by pouring a little into a bowl of cold water. It should harden instantly and, when removed, be brittle and easy to break. If you can still squish the toffee, continue to boil it.
  3. Working quickly and carefully, dip and twist each apple in the hot toffee until covered, let any excess drip away, then place on the baking parchment to harden. You may have to heat the toffee a little if the temperature drops and it starts to feel thick and viscous. Leave the toffee to cool before eating. Can be made up to 2 days in advance, stored in a dry place.

Another Bonfire favourite is the hog roast. A simple recipe to prepare in advance is pulled pork. Cooked slowly, pulled pork is tender and delicious and will leave your house smelling wonderful! Try BBC Good Food's recipe for Maple Mustard Pulled Pork, served with soft baps at your party .

  • 200g sea salt
  • 300g light muscovado sugar
  • 2kg/4lb 8oz piece pork shoulder
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 100g wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp English mustard powder
  1. Mix the sea salt and 200g of the sugar in a large food bag, add the pork and coat it well. (If you don’t have a bag, rub over the pork in a dish and cover with cling film.) Leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, remove the pork and wipe down the meat with kitchen paper. Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Mix the remaining sugar, the maple syrup, mustards and some ground pepper. Rub half the mixture over the pork and sit it on a rack in a roasting tin. Roast for 6 hrs.
  3. Spoon the remaining maple mixture over the pork and roast for 1 hr more.
  4. Rest the meat for 30 mins on a plate loosely covered with foil. To serve, tear the pork into big fat chunks and, after skimming the surface, spoon over any juices from the tin.

Monday, 21 October 2013

A Traditional Halloween

With Halloween approaching, this weekend will likely see children across the country dressing up and going out trick or treating. Whilst many bemoan this 'Americanisation' of a traditional celebration, the current trends for celebrating Halloween are not far removed from centuries old British (Celtic and Gaelic) tradition.

The original Hallows Eve festivities marked the end of the harvest season and the start of the 'darker half' of the year. It was seen as a time when spirits and fairies could more easily move into our world and were especially active.

In the English Hallowmas celebrations, households often put candles burning in the windows of every room to guide the souls back to visit their earthly homes. Spirits were welcomed back into their former houses, feasts were had to which the souls of departed kin were beckoned and places were set for them at the table. However, some spirits and fairies could cause harm and needed to be warded off. Bonfires were considered to be protective and cleansing, and this may be an additional origin of our modern day bonfire festivals.


By the end of the 12th century is was customary for criers to parade the streets dressed in black, ringing a bell and calling for good Christians to remember the souls of the dead.

In Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Mann 'mumming and guising' was a Halloween celebration, the latter of which goes back at least to the 18th century. In this celebration people went from house to house in costume or disguise, reciting songs in exchange for food. Souling was the tradition of baking and sharing 'soul cakes' for all christened souls and this has been suggested as the origin of trick or treating. Possibly originating in Celtic tradition, costumes were a means of imitating or disguising oneself from spirits and fairies. The traditional belief was that the dead wandered the earth until All Saints Day, and All Hallows Eve provided their last chance to gain vengeance on their living enemies, before moving on to the next life. Donning masks and costumes was a way for people to disguise their identities from any souls seeking them out.

During these celebrations people would also carry lamps, or Jack 'o' lanterns, often carved from turnips or potatoes. Grotesque faces would be carved into them to represent or repel evil spirits and goblins. In later centuries immigrants to America found that the native pumpkin made a far better lantern, and the current tradition began.

Halloween recipes often focus on pumpkins, but, as we have mentioned traditional Halloween cakes in this blog, we should look at these. In England 'soul cakes' were small, round cakes, filled with allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger with raisins and currents. Very much like present day hot cross buns they were marked on the top with a cross.

Barmbrack loaf and English Soul Cakes. 

In Ireland the traditional Halloween cake is Barmbrack, again a fruit loaf with sweet spices. The Halloween brack traditionally contained various items such as, a ring, a coin, a piece of cloth, a stick and a pea. When the cake was divided up each recipient would have an item in their slice. Each item represented meaning to the person receiving them, usually concerning their marriage prospects or fortune.   


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Half Term Activities

Half term is looming over us again and for many families the important question is, how to entertain the family in this last break before Christmas?
With Halloween also coming up, why not combine the two and treat the kids to a day out to a spooky castle, take a spine chilling ghost walk, or, for the not-so-brave, a trip to a working farm or Victorian estate where children can learn about traditional preparations for 'All Hallows Eve' and the festive season.

Warwick Castle is a great destination for the whole family, with jousting, falconry displays, a working trebuchet, dungeons to explore and a Royal Weekend Party theme. From 24th October to 2nd November the Castle is hosting Halloween at the Haunted Castle. There will be a range of spooky events from 10am – 9pm giving children the chance to interact with the history of the castle.

Set in 500 acres of parkland. Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, Kent has being described as 'the loveliest castle in the world'. From 26th October to 3rd November it is hosting 'Halloween at Half Term'. Childrens activities include creepy crafts, face painting and a pumpkin trail through the grounds. For adults and older children the castle hosts Blood, Boils and Black Death Evening Halloween Tour, on October 31st. A guided walk through the castles gruesome history, not for the faint hearted!

For fans of the Harry Potter films (who isn't), Alnwick Castle would make a perfect day out. Alnwick Castle featured in the first two films as a stand in for exterior and interior shots of Hogwarts. This Halloween the theme is continued, with Harry Potter inspired activities and spooky tours!

Venture back to bygone days with a trip to Blists Hill Victorian Museum, in the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge in Shropshire. A working, Victorian town it will tempt you with delicious, traditionally made fish and chips, a bakery and old fashioned sweet shop. On October 26 the town will hold its annual Ghostly Gaslight, from 6pm to 9pm.

Staffordshire's Shugborough Hall, in 900 acres of parkland and riverside gardens, features a working Victorian servants quarters, Georgian farm, dairy and mill and a walled garden. From 26th October to 1st November it is holding an Autumn Activity Week for children, with crafts, pumpkin carving, trails, baking and cheese-making.  


Great UK (Dog Friendly!) Autumn Getaways

Autumn is a beautiful, tranquil season across the UK. The crowds of summer are long gone and crisp, bright days are ideal for taking in the beautiful colours across the landscape. If a UK autumn getaway sounds appealing, why not bring the dog along too! There are many dog friendly retreats up and down the country, and not just self catering. Here we have compiled a range of options from far and wide across the land, in hotels, castles, lodges and farmstays for you and your four-legged friend!

Scotland: If a trip to the Scottish Highlands sounds like a perfect getaway this autumn, take a look at Tomich Holidays. These self catering cottages and woodland lodges overlook Glenn Affric, close to Loch Ness. Spectacular views and scenic walks are guaranteed, with woodland walks, hidden waterfalls and ancient Caledonian pine woods all on the doorstep.

Push the boat out for a special occassional or treat, at the stunning and much sought after Ackergill Tower. Located on the coastline of northern Scotland, in Sinclairs Bay, Wick, it is the perfect retreat from which to explore the beautiful, rural wilderness and the range of outdoor activities on offer in Caithness.

Bedroom at Ackergill Tower. 

Lake District: Close to Windermere, 22 Thirlmere is a cosy, detached lodge, sleeping up to six people. Featuring a decked terrace with private hot tub, furniture and fire pit barbeque, it is an ideal place to relax with friends or family.

Deep in Cumbria's National Park, overlooking the famous Langdale Valley, Blelham Tarn sits in tranquil, secluded woodland. Step right out onto the fells and enjoy the natural scenery.


                              22 Thirlmere (left) and Blelham Tarn (right) in the Lake District                                                                                               
Yorkshire: Treat yourself and your dog to a break in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.
Family owned since 1739, The Talbot Hotel at Malton is perfectly placed for exploring the wild North Yorkshire Moors, the dramatic coastline of Robin Hood's Bay and the stately home and gardens of Castle Howard. Malton is a growing tourist town with a thriving market and emerging reputation as a food lovers paradise. The Talbot Hotel is a good choice for food lovers, with chef James Martin now in charge of the kitchen.

The Stone House in Hawes, Wensleydale is a scenic rural retreat, ideal for a relaxing short break in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Peak District is a mix of stunning scenery with many charming villages to explore and to unwind in a country pub at the end of a long day. Situated near the town of Bakewell, Burton Manor Farm boasts six self catering holiday cottages, created out of converted former farm buildings, on a working family farm near Over Haddon, right in the heart of the National Park.

Nestled on the edge of the National Forest and the Peak District, Oaklands Country Lodges comprises three, luxury, four star timber cabins. Within easy reach of attractions like Chatsworth House, Alton Towers, Uttoxeter Racecourse and Tutbury Castle. The area has many walking paths, cycle routes and outdoor pursuits opportunities.  

In the heart of Devon's Dartmoor National Park is Burnville Farm, near the village of Tavistock. This Georgian house, with 250 acre livestock farm, offers B+B or self catering options, and dogs are welcomed.

With easy access to Exmoor and the North Devon coast, Country Ways Farm Cottages are an idyllic retreat, hidden away on a small Devon farm.

In the Cotswolds, spoil your dog with a short break to The Pear Tree at Purton. Set in the Wiltshire countryside, this Cotswold Stone former Vicarage offers free stays for dogs (with their fee paying humans of course!), treats in the room on arrival, bowl, a large bottle of mineral water, and a bath towel – incase they discover the lily pond!


In Witney, Oxfordshire, the Old Swan and Minster Mill offer luxury accommodation, with over 600 years of history. On the banks of the River Windrush, it is an ideal location for a fishing break or relax in the hotel's spa.

Snowdonia: For a short break with a difference look at Hywell Sele Lodge. This Tudor gothic style lodge stands guard over the deer park on the Nannau estate in southern Snowdonia.

If you prefer a log cabin resort, Trawsfynydd Holiday Village, near the Rhinog Mountains, is nestled on a hillside in the Snowdonia National Park.