At the weekend I was pissed off about being too ill to make it to a shoot, and when I feel like shit I always get desperate to run away. So I booked an “executive double room” at the Donnington Grove Country Club for a pretty decent last-minute price and we legged it sharpish.
Before we’d even reached the motorway I was already feeling the curative effects of buggering off out of the suburbs with a couple of bottles of wine & a bunch of sexcessories. The prospect of wandering round a castle in the morning could only add to my sudden good cheer.
We arrived before dark and took a look at the beautiful grounds upon which some twat had seen fit to park a golf course. Realising that the only lights on most of the driveway were motion-sensitive, we debated the likelihood of falling in a pond if we later attempted to walk back from the village pub. Twas very pretty though, and the main building was pleasingly solid & castle-y.
After checking in we skipped upstairs (I’m lying, we dragged ourselves up the stairs like the Olympic smokers we blatantly are) to our room (the hotel’s honeymoon suite, apparently) on the top floor. It was nicely decorated but had clearly seen better days. Or is that me?
I took some pictures of the room – yes, I was unclothed at the time and no, if you squint really hard you still won’t be able to get a proper look at my boobies reflected in the mirror over the fireplace. You’ll just do yourself an injury.
After a quick shower (of irritatingly variable temperature) we fell back downstairs to dine in the hotel’s River Restaurant. I chose the goat’s cheese & rocket salad (with pine nuts, very tasty) and the pan fried chicken breast (served in a buttery mustard sauce, with a tiny potato rosti), followed by a crème brulée (perfect). The 4nim4l had a ham hock salad (nice), the sirloin steak (huge, tender and incredibly tasty) with sautéed potatoes, and a white chocolate & raspberry cheesecake (so delicious I was jealous, even though I had an amazing crème brulée of my own to eat). There was a very pleasant Stowford Press cider on tap at the bar.
We retired upstairs, drank some wine, and attempted to go for a walk in the grounds. This was not a success. I staggered halfway down the drive, then retreated & had to carry myself plus one very large meal back up the stairs to collapse on the bed.
The next morning we bounced on the bed in the little spare time we had before checkout, then headed out to visit the 14th-century Donnington Castle, a gatehouse & earthworks on top of a nearby hill. It was near-deserted & there were big trees to climb to check out the view. Twas good.
If you want to know all about the castle’s history and whatnot, have a read of The First and Second Battles of Newbury and the Siege of Donnington Castle During the English Civil War by Walter Money.