The last time Mr R and I went out for an evening meal alone was last September. Of course, there’s been the odd dinner with mates but not ALONE for six months…that is surely a crime against love.
When we were in the courting stages of our relationship, we spent a wonderful few days at Calcot Manor in Gloucestershire. Seven years later, and in desperate need of a rest brought on by overwork and under sleep, we returned, but this time with this guy…
We heard Calcot Manor had great childcare, but would it stand up to the challenge of enabling parents to genuinely relax? Without any family to call upon for overnight babysitting duties, our only option was to bring Bobble along and hope for the best.
It took just under 2 hours to drive from London. We’ve finally succumbed to having an i-pad on board and letting the little guy enjoy a film instead of enduring our lame made up motorway games. Why did we have to be so precious about this before?
After a quick and easy check-in we were led to our family suite. It was immaculate. The cleverly laid out space meant that kids and adults had their own private areas which omitted the need for the night time creeping that we had become accustomed to when sharing a room with Bobble.
At 4pm, we decided to strategically sniff out the Playroom and Mez which is an Ofsted registered service that cares for tiny babies up to teens with experienced CRB checked staff.
I felt bad showing Bobble round the Playroom knowing that the next morning he would be left alone there but man alive, I was knackered. As Mr R pointed out, this getaway was about us, we needed to be a little selfish for a change. He was right, this was the whole reason for coming…the childcare!
We’d booked a babysitter that night who happened to be Sue from the Playzone. Bobble got upset the moment she arrived, but Sue, being a seasoned pro at this game, managed to placate him and practically shooed us out the door so that we didn’t waste another minute. I love Sue, she just knows.
One of the reasons Calcot Manor works is because it’s unpretentious. The Conservatory restaurant managed to feel like a special treat without being overly ‘Cotswolds’ if you get my drift. The room was elegant, the service was breezy and the menu was accessible Modern British cuisine. The lobster bisque was so good, I had it two nights in a row.
5.45am the next day, ‘Wake up mummy, I want milk.’ Ugh, here we go. And then I spot it…winking at me, all shiny and bright, Bobble’s got a TV and DVD player in his room and a cosy sheepskin beanbag. Quickly dispense milk, put him in his Mini Calcot bathrobe, Cbeebies on. Go back to bed. Hallelujah!
At breakfast, The Playzone drop off looms, as does the guilt when I overhear other families talk of visiting nearby Tractor Ted’s Farm. Will Bobble have anyone to play with this morning; don’t other families drop their kids off at The Playroom? Mr R tells me to get a grip…’We need this more than him’, he whispers as he tucks into another hand reared pork sausage. I can’t cave in now. I’ve booked a massage and everything.
The beautifully appointed spa is well worth a visit. I allowed myself a few hours to just sit and be alone with a pile of magazines before my excellent deep tissue massage. Being a destination for locals as well as hotel guests, it’s wise to book treatments well in advance. On leaving the spa, Mr R borrowed this bike and took Bobble for a ride around the grounds before lunch.
Your carriage awaits
We spent the afternoon visiting friends on a farm near Cirencester, taking in the stunning scenery whilst walking their brilliant dogs. It’s these moments when you question your lifestyle and wonder whether you’ve got it right.
A man’s best friend
That evening, Sue was back reading Owl Babies to Bobble in bed and we were down in The Conservatory chowing down on Dover sole. It was the second night and Rowlesy and Lynn were back in the room, it was like old times. We promised one another more breaks from the haze of work, family commitments and household chores. We can’t let a toddler rule our lives, we were going to seize control, goddamit!
I know we will return to this place. The management has pre-empted what parents need to make their break as stress free as possible. The moment I knew Calcot Manor had nailed it was when the waitress asked me if I wanted to order Bobble a kids meal the moment we sat down. She knows there is no such thing as a toddler waiting quietly for his parents to peruse the menu and she knows it’s annoying when a toddler refuses to eat his main meal because he’s gorged himself on bread – like Sue from The Playroom, she just knows.
Tips for staying at Calcot Manor:
The dinner, bed and breakfast family package which includes free childcare and spa supplements is good value, especially mid week.
Kids tea time in the Gumstool is 5.30pm – 6.30pm and there is good room service available throughout the day
Book spa treatments and restaurant reservations well in advance as they cater for locals too
No need to bring kids cutlery, bibs, DVDs, books, baby monitors, babycots or bed guards
Ask for a room away from the road and on the first floor to avoid any noise (apart from your own kids)
Use the Playzone and babysitting. It’s a crime against love if you don’t