There is one thing I really miss since becoming a mother. That is travel and our breaks away. Before we had Violet, travelling was our ‘thing’. We’d spend all of our hard-earned cash on trips away, reaching Peru, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Cape Verde and more, but since Violet a trip to France has been all we could manage – it’s a totally different experience travelling with a baby and we’ve not even plucked up the courage to try a flight with her yet.
So last weekend we decided to go on a little mini-break to get away from it all. We had been invited to visit The Red Lion in Odiham, which is a gorgeous little village nestled in Hampshire countryside and most importantly, only around an hour and half drive from where we live too, so we took them up on the offer. It was the perfect situation – a holiday and a brand new place to explore, without hours of travel time too. Ideal!
Our room was clean, modern and comfortable, with a big squishy double bed with impeccably perfect white linens. I loved how each room name was RAF themed – ours being Javelin, being that Odiham is so close a large the RAF base. The scent of the gorgeous ESPA reed diffuser in the room was amazing and so inviting, they have got to be one of my favourite brands too so this added a lovely touch. Waiting for us in the room was a handy welcome pack with information about the B&B and local things to do, plus some artisan chocolates with a festive feel in Gingerbread and Cranberry & Orange flavours.
I was touched by the effort the team at The Red Lion had gone to to making us comfortable as a family – They had already set up a Graco Travel Cot, included blankets for Violet and also a monkey bath mitt and her own towel. Plus, you should have seen her face when she saw there was a toy box in the room – she was in her element! It’s the attention to detail that makes all the difference I think.
After unpacking and settling in we sat down for a well-deserved coffee. Even though we travelled less than 2 hours, going anywhere with a baby can be stressful – all the packing and organising is unreal! The rooms are equipped with coffee machines and a well stocked mini bar (although sadly we didn’t utilise that as much as I wish we had!). We also brought along Violet’s perfect prep machine which makes things so much easier. Plus thank goodness Violet is over 8 months and we don’t need to sterilise bottles anymore, so the steriliser was one less thing to worry about and leave at home!
One of my favourite parts of the room was the GORGEOUS bathroom, which being the useless blogger I am, I didn’t get enough snaps of – but it had the prettiest tiling, a huge rain shower, ESPA toiletries and again, more thoughtful touches for Violet with Child’s farm hair & body wash and some bath time alphabet toys to play with too.
After a chill out in our room on the comfy bed and a mini-nap (because, you know – baby) we headed downstairs into the main pub restaurant for some dinner. It was so lovely to know our dinner would be made for us and all we had to do was potter downstairs to be waited on hand and foot, just what the Mumma’s needed! The pub has a real cosy, friendly feel – we sat right by the open fire and ordered two very large G&T’s to kick off our first mini-break as a family.
The Red Lion are dedicated to producing locally sourced, fresh food so I was excited to give their Autumn Menu a try. Yes, I am that person that looks up the menu online in advance and decides what she wants so I knew exactly what I wanted to order and couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
For my starter I had the Chalk Stream Smoked Trout with pickled radish and cucumber, dressed leaves, buttered granary bread, the fish was absolutely delicious and perfectly complemented by the sharp taste of the pickles. V had the Baked Garlic Mushrooms topped with Norbury Blue Cheese crumb and rustic bread.
For our main course V went for the Goats Cheese and Pear Wellington which was served with honey-roasted beetroot, new potatoes and shallot sauce and I had the classic, Fish & Chips which was a lightly battered haddock (fresh from Brixham Market, chunky chips, minted peas and tartare sauce. It was clear my fish & chips was made with only the freshest ingredients, it had the classic British taste without being overly greasy, which is perfect. I had totally food envy over V’s dish though, Goats Cheese and pear is such a delicious combination – although sadly at this point in our meal Violet decided to have the biggest meltdown in the restaurant, so V ate her meal in about 2 minutes with a wiggly, tired and grotty Violet under her arm. She’d just hit the ‘too tired’ button after being fine in her high chair previously! It was a bit of a shame as I was then left eating my main course on my own – but this is the reality of travelling with a baby. I decided to skip pudding to go and help out with bedtime, although I’d had my eye on the Autumnal-Spiced Crumble all evening but motherhood called. Never mind, next time.
I headed back to our room and began the long task that was bedtime, which seemed even trickier as we were in a different location. Eventually we got Violet down but she didn’t really sleep well, we’ve only been away once with her and she was only 4 months so I think now she’s more aware of her surroundings, being somewhere strange did take it’s toll. As she’d wake quite a lot during the night.
I can’t say we had the best night’s sleep, our room was really comfortable and warm with a huge squishy bed so I was comfy but the one thing that let it down was that we were placed right above the pub so our room was very noisy, especially as our windows opened out onto the street, so all the people smoking outside were standing below our room, chatting louder and louder and louder (and then singing) as the night went on. I didn’t really get to sleep properly until the pub had emptied. I then listened to them cleaning up (including hoovering) until it finally it went quiet about 1am! PHEW. When we were arriving, most of the rooms seem a bit further back away from the main entrance so I think noise might only be an issue at the front, so if we visited again I’d ask to be further back next time.
In the morning we headed down for breakfast – fuzzy headed after a rough night with Violet. Good thing they do REALLY good coffee and it was strong too! Breakfast was a mix of continental and cooked options to suit everyone (think this is just sat/sun).
As you can see the breakfasts were HUGE! This was the vegetarian cooked breakfast option. Before this arrived we’d already shovelled a pastry each too! Violet also loved the breakfast, trying some scrambled egg and beans – she was in a better mood after her disastrous evening. We slowly downed our coffees and came to life, ready to handle the day.
So, if you’ve stuck with me this far – that is the end of part one of our weekend away in Odiham, I’ll be posting our second night soon, featuring our day out exploring, Little Play Town (which is SO cute) and more tasty food snaps!
** Lastly – If you fancy a stay at The Red Lion Odiham (I recommend it!) then you can get a complimentary bottle of wine to your room with this code: Fizzypeacheswine (see T&C’s below) **