Airports seem a pain right now (hree-hour queues are not my idea of a lovely weekend away), so we headed north. Well, not really north, just about hovering around the Watford watershed. We aimed for Brocket Hall in Hertsfordshire, the family seat of Lord Brocket. (Yes, Lord Brocket of the ‘buried’ Lamborghinis. A little whiff of scandal never damages a place really, does it?)
The avenue leading to the entry gate was one of the most spectacular I have seen, and driving through the gates was amazing. It was a perfect bucolic setting, with a lake, superb Georgian house, and amazing old trees. It could not have been lovelier, even in the pouring rain. Reception brought us to our senses: no, we weren’t staying in the grand old house, we were allotted Melbourne Lodge, and it was a bit downhill from there. Literally. Luckily, our room was on the ground floor (the ones on the first floor seem tiny), but it definitely had seen better days. The room was spacious, the bath tub ginormous, but it was a rather faded beauty. The view from the window compensated, though - true English country house splendour.
For our supper at the Auberge du Lac, the gourmand menu seemed right, and was delicious, inventive, and light. I could not praise the head-chef, Phillip Thomson more, so I photographed him instead. A happy man doing a great job.
To link the worthy to the beautiful, we popped into Hatfield House, just 10 minutes away, and what a wonderful surprise that was. I just didn’t expect it to be so enjoyable - I normally dread these enormous old houses with their sour guardians almost as much as surly hotel staff. But the Hatfield house and gardens were amazing. I don’t think I have ever seen such a huge vine pergola, and I will definitely go back in a few months when it is green again.
All of this just an hour out of central London, it would be a pity to miss it.