The summer holidays: those sweet six weeks of the year that you counted down the days to while gazing wistfully out of the classroom window. Time to enjoy freedom, explore someplace new, and be where memories cherished long-after are made. On a recent trip to The Cotswolds, the fond and nostalgic thoughts of summers long past began to rekindle.  

Pulling into the grand courtyard of The Marlings in Gloucestershire reminded me of how I turned to my parents all those years ago when arriving at our French farmhouse in The Dordogne, all doe-eyed and asking “is this really ours?” Here, four traditional stone buildings encircle; all in that creamy caramel tone synonymous with the chocolate box Cotswolds villages that surround, with fragrant wisteria that blows in the breeze, and llamas and Mangalica pigs for neighbours. 

Exterior shot of The Marlings in The Cotswolds

Made for large-group gatherings, as we explore the vast corridors that turn to kitchens, to dining rooms, to living rooms, to secret staircases, to bedrooms, to plush bathroom suites and back again, you can't help but remember 'the good old days' playing hide ‘n seek on warm July eves with an ever-growing congregation of cousins. 

After stocking up on goodies from a local shop, the first night of our stay at The Marlings was spent eating oven pizza and sipping red wine warmed from the sun. Because when there is an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub and grounds ripe for garden games, who has time to throw together a home-cooked, three-course meal? In the pool, once more we are children: dives at the deep end, swimming races, and who-can-do-the-best-under-water-handstand competitions commence. And when the sun sets behind the poolhouse, we watch the sky turn pink to starry above the hills. 

To the left is the barn conversion, to the right is the outdoor swimming pool

Having seemingly pulled the longest straw of the bunch, the bridal suite was bestowed upon me. With marshmallow-pink walls, soaring dark wood beams, a jam-and-cream checkerboard rug, and a bathroom suite complete with a chrome rolltop bath for leisurely morning soaks. Here, I was as content as could be. 

With decisions such as "Shall we pet the llamas, or head for a game of tennis on the court?" "Should we watch a movie by candlelight, or go swimming under the stars?" being the most challenging decisions we had to make during our stay, it's safe to say that after just a few days we had well and truly settled into estate living. Envisaging ourselves amidst the pages of du Maurier's Manderley or Eyre's Thornfield Hall. With walls where wisteria climbs, corridors that echo with chatter and laughter, and gardens that lie peppered with a rounders ball here and a daisy chain there.

To the left is the bridal suite, to the right is the living room

And after days spent embracing childlike fun and sophisticated adulting in equal measure, it’s with a lighter step that I headed back to reality, already planning my next adventure.