Can just one weekend away reduce your stress levels?

(ToWander UK)

City living recently reached its limit for me. Throw a young family to attend to into the mix and I’ve recently found my stress levels simmering over like an overlooked boiling pot of pasta. If you were not part of the great countryside exodus during COVID times then city parks, a balcony, or a garden (if you’re lucky) are your only respite from the fumes, sirens and aircraft screams overhead.

I decided enough was enough and we retreated to a serene cottage, apparently perfect for stargazing and tranquillity, in a quest for some deserved peace and a huge reduction in stress levels.

Bob's Lodge
Bob's Lodge (ToWander UK)

Winchcombe Farm

Tucked away a stone's throw from Stratford-Upon-Avon is the parish of Tysoe, Warwickshire. As you drive through tiny lanes, thatched cottages rise to greet you as they huddle close together in quaint brownstone villages. After a short drive down a dirt track and ubiquitous cattle grids, we arrived at the splendid Winchcombe Farm. This was to be our home for the next two nights and more specifically 'Bob’s Lodge' (named after the owner’s son - we met him too, a lovely boy). The farm is replete with six lodges in all, geodesic domes poking out from beneath tree canopies and the well-manicured gardens made my children yelp with delight as we arrived. A very good first sign.

Bob's Lodge

Driving past the likes of 'Chicken Shed Lodge' and 'Ben’s Burrow', you can’t help but be inspired by the huge swathe of personality the farm possesses in abundance. As we parked, we were at first greeted by our own private BBQ shelter. It was complete with indoor seating and is a dream set-up for any fire-cooking connoisseur. The lodges also appear deceptively small outside as simple green wooden sheds. However, they are anything but once you venture inside.

Bob's Lodge
A countryside escape (ToWander UK)

My children were instantly overjoyed as the door swung open to reveal a decking balcony and a dome nestled into the arms of a sprawling tree overhead. This is essentially treehouse living complete with a slide that ferried our little ones safely to the ground so they could explore the welcoming garden. Three hammocks lay in wait for the children too which they took immense joy in jumping into. Adults are not to be neglected as a decking area wraps around the entire property, complete with a hot tub with built-in speakers and a pizza oven where wood and lighters are supplied.

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You can also sleep in the dome should you wish and take advantage of countryside living and stargaze until your heart’s content. Sadly, the weather had other ideas for us. The ground floor looks out to the balcony with large bi-fold doors, with a small communal area, a bathroom, a well-appointed kitchen and a large master bedroom.

The children's 'den'
The children's 'den' (ToWander UK)

Running upstairs, the children were overjoyed to discover a little 'den' with a TV and mini-armchairs. Perfect for them to while away some time if exploring or the weather gets too much. The ambiance continued with two comfortable, cosy bedrooms and their own bathroom. Having the kids have their own floor whilst we had ours meant we were never under one another’s feet. A helpful aid to reducing stress. We also discovered the wonderfully snug bathrobes upstairs supplied so you can dart in and out of the hot tub until your skin pruning becomes unbearable.

A very inviting hot tub
A very inviting hot tub (ToWander UK)

You are absolutely made to feel welcome as soon as you arrive and also, very much left to your own devices. Another welcome treat was the bag of coffee, milk and a cosseting Victoria sponge cake made locally which was a lovely treat we all happily indulged in. The guide to the house and surrounding area is available as a handy QR code in your home, which helps with any queries or issues ensuring you’re not necessarily badgering the owners.

A room with a moo
A room with a moo (ToWander UK)

Countryside Bliss

Relaxation is not difficult here where you can watch the playful lambs in the field adjacent to the lodges, and two ponies (one is from a rescue, 'Queenie') grazing in the rolling hills in front of you. There are also some curious alpacas whose necks extend to enhance their view every time a visitor saunters past. If you want privacy, you will absolutely have it. Even though the lodges seemed to be adjacent to one another, no usurpers were stealing our peace and quiet during our stay. Relaxation was sadly short-lived however as on one very rainy morning, duty called and I had to knuckle down. Luckily (or unluckily) the wifi was very strong and I was able to work with no issues. Stress levels up again for a few hours sadly.

The master bedroom
The master bedroom (ToWander UK)

Local Life

Being out in the sticks, we were warned that there can occasionally be power outages of around 20 minutes. We avoided this rare issue, but we did have a water outage. Luckily, the owner Jo was on hand to forewarn us and supply us with copious amounts of bottled water. It didn’t ruin the trip.

Whilst I worked and without running water inside, my family braved the harsh weather and walked to the small village of Upper Tysoe. It’s a quaint affair with a pub, shop, church and houses. Sadly the driving rain scuppered any more ideals of a hike and they made their way back to the lodge, although I was informed the area was stunning. We also discovered that getting local deliveries is no problem at all and an artisan ice cream seller will even bring their wares to your door. Sadly, I did contact them online but had no response. Maybe next time.

Dining Al Fresco
Dining Al Fresco (ToWander UK)

Back to relaxing

The weather finally abated enough for us to enjoy the outside life once again after I had finished work. There was time to ensconce ourselves on the inviting bed in the dome where we enjoyed the last soothing taps of the day’s drizzle. You can sleep in this if you wish, which I was sorely tempted to do. We then all de-camped to the hot tub. There is a list of instructions that are worth reading and also we had to ensure our smallest was able to go in. It can get hot, but this is easily controlled by a keypad on the tub itself.

Perfect for a BBQ at night
Perfect for a BBQ at night (ToWander UK)

As night drew in, we decided to have our first go at utilising a pizza oven. The children loved spreading out their dough and adding ridiculous amounts of toppings. After a few failed attempts, we felt like we’d semi-mastered the art. I think I will be getting one for our home.

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Sadly the next morning, our two days were up and we had to depart but not before feeding the ponies Charlie and Queenie a few apples before we left. Bob’s Lodge helped us all switch off and even though the break was short, it was enough to just take the edge of city living for a welcome moment. Returning home, our kids now insist they want a house with a huge garden, a dome and a slide attached. I can feel those stress levels starting to rise again.

Bob's Lodge is under Winchcombe Farm Holidays can be booked through ToWander UK: