Blogging has given me so many amazing opportunities over the last two years. It has given me a platform to raise awareness of the subjects close to my heart, to gain back my confidence through my love of writing, and to experience so many lovely things together as a family. And yet one of my favourite things about blogging will always be the friends I have made. For that reason, when I was invited to a retreat with nine other bloggers, I jumped at the chance!
The lovely owners of Riverside Lifestyle offered to host the retreat at Riverside Cottage, tucked away in leafy Hampshire, and although it was a bit of a trek down from Lancashire, it was totally and utterly worth it!!
Riverside Cottage is a five bedroomed property available for hire throughout the year with the added bonus of a separate two bedroomed lodge, perfect for extended family. The cottage was everything I had hoped it would be – picturesque, quirky, and with the most gorgeous traditional features.
Despite being a cottage, something which usually conjures images of something very quaint, and rather small, Riverside cottage is BIG! Even with the ten of us in there it felt so spacious, and with so many rooms there were some that we didn’t even sit in over the three days of our stay!
With traditional open beams and grand fireplaces, the cottage is so full of character. Everywhere you turn there is something new to look at, such as the beautiful rocking horse that sits in the hall, the artwork that lines the walls and the unusual hand painted rug on the dining room floor.
One thing that I was really looking forward to was heading over to the lodge to take a dip in the heated swimming pool. We were very lucky that the weather was so lovely and it wasn’t long before we had all dived in, and I’ll be honest with you, being child free has never felt so good!
The gardens at Riverside cottage are gorgeous, all well kept with seasonal blooms, lavender fields and vineyards. I can imagine that should the children have been there they would have loved running wild, clambering all over the play ground and watching in amazement as the beekeeper collected the honey. Without the children I was happy to simply sit back, breathe in the fresh air, and RELAX!!
To the side of the cottage is the Riverside Yurt cafe, open to members of the public as well as residents.
They have the most delicious assortment of sweet and savoury, ice creams, drinks and jam made from their very own lavender! And although, being gluten free, I couldn’t try one of the scones, I was told by the others that they were absolutely delicious!
I love that Riverside Lifestyle thinks of everything to make your holiday as wonderful as possible. There are options to purchase additional add ons such as Yoga and Pilates classes in the yurt, plus a visit from Holistic Hens for a range of beauty treatments, including massages, facials and hot stone treatments.
My favourite add on was the option of an in house chef, brought to us by The Little Kitchen Company and cooked by the lovely Steve.
Our menu consisted of salmon roulade or goats cheese for starter, chicken with a mushroom and cream sauce for main and a fruit and cream meringue dessert. For £40 per person it was worth it to sit back, watch somebody else do the cooking and even better, no washing up!
This was washed down with a range of cocktails courtesy of 31 Dover, and let me tell you….they went down a treat!
We had such a great night sitting around chatting and getting to know each other, but after a long day it wasn’t long before we were ready for bed, set for another busy day the next morning.
Being unfamiliar with the surrounding area, it was lovely to have a walk into the nearest village the next morning. There is a road which follows the river and I imagine that there are lots of lovely country walks branching off which would be fun to explore.
That afternoon we were very fortunate to have a visit from the lovely Judith Searles who came to give us a lesson in flower arranging. Judith is amazing at what she does, and her work has been widely recognised, so I was very much looking forward to learning under her expertise!
Having never tried flower arranging before I was a little nervous about just how successful my attempt to make a floral wreath would be, and yet once I started I realised that it didn’t matter whether my wreath was quite as perfect as Judith’s, it was just lovely to be creative without the “helpful” hands of my children!
I was actually very proud of my finished wreath and decided that I would attempt to take it home for Joseph the following day. After eleven years of shop bought flowers it meant a lot to me to have made something special to brighten up his grave and I intend to draw from Judith’s advice and do the same in the coming months.
We had such a lovely time at Riverside Cottage and I genuinely couldn’t have chosen a more relaxing or charismatic setting, or better company than the lovely Donna of What The Redhead Said, Laura of Dear Bear and Beany, Bridget of Bridie By The Sea, Claire of Mudpie Fridays, Rosie of Mummy and Boo, Lauren of Scrapbook Blog, Nicole of The Littlest Darlings, Mel of Le Coin De Mel and Sara-Jayne of Keeping Up With The Jones Family.