This was the second time we had stayed with Jill and Brett and it was even more delightful than the first! Booking was a very straight-forward process, any pre-arrival enquiries very supportive and warm and the actual stay sheer fun from beginning to end.
Being very adept, totally experienced hosts, Jill and Brett will always make you feel as if you are the only ones who have stayed with them, but clearly you aren't as one has to book well in advance due to their immense popularity. We were 'kidnapped' for three hours to demolish wine and nibbles on arrival and it was a very entertaining evening: partly due to their extremely interesting life-experiences, their knowledge of the area- but mostly because of their exotic, hilarious company. We have rarely known folk in our respective lives and also mutually when we have been able to simply 'click' with another couple so effortlessly.We arrived very tired from work and life in general and within half an hour were completely uplifted and giggling- wonderful!
We have now stayed in both rooms at Byfield and each is very comfortable, stylish and idiosyncratic in its own right. One always has complete privacy with own key, a fantastic medley of 'goodies' in the fridge, far beyond the usual expectation in respect of drinks and eats and a generous metaphor of the Huttons' excellent hospitality. The beds are heaven, the décor very reflective of Jill's expert art background and personal touches are very much in evidence: an array of magazines, books galore (especially about the Cotswolds) and the offer of a favourite newspaper and croissants au matin!
The surrounding area is idyllic. Brett gave us several leaflets about local walks for example and we did one of these around Painswick on the Saturday morning. It was lovely to meander in such peace and have quality time to observe such quirky sights as a male swan skimming a mill pond and then looking us over in a most conscientious manner, several horses and their riders out for a healthy amble, an array of very attractive properties, breath-taking views and of course the opportunity for exercise in some beautiful countryside.
It was the rugby Six Nations weekend when we visited, so we had to find the local pub, which were transmitting such..The Royal Oak…an extremely quaint, sociable hostelry, where we watched two of the final matches and retired home for the last! We were received very easily by the locals and had lots of fun conversations with such, whilst cheering on England, then Wales..fortunately we all agreed on this focus! Brett and Jill also recommended Newark Hall, an exciting National Trust property, which we visited en route home, very fascinating in respect of its Tudor origins, but also subsequent additions over the years and the amazing gardens. We also revisited Slad, Laurie Lee's home ground from three to about twenty when he left the village to walk to London. As English teacher, I happen to be teaching Cider With Rosie to Year 8 students currently, so it was timely to be able to take discreet photos of Rosebank, the family home, his village school, his final resting place at the church nearby and The Woolpack, Lee's favourite drinking-ground and where, inevitably, we had to have a glass of Rosie's cider!
Above all else, it is the stay in Brett and JIlls' gorgeous home with tasteful artwork and sophisticated, yet very homely touches that is the seminal experience. Apart from the joy of exploring the exciting architecture of the house and its splendid grounds (spend time wandering around these, admiring the delectable crooks and crannies, notwithstanding Brett's expert hanging-baskets), the couple themselves are its mainstay. Articulate, thoroughly entertaining and utterly outrageous in the very finest sense, you will always be a better person from having the honour of their company and wisdom. If you are looking for a very different, serene experience and escape from daily life, Byfield House is the panacea in every conceivable sense. Thank you both for another unforgettable stay and- whatever it takes- we will be back!