Best Bars Cheltenham Race Week

The Cosy Club, best bars Cheltenham Race Week

Like putting on your lipstick and donning a pair of heels, the town of Cheltenham dramatically changes its image from day to night during Cheltenham Gold Cup week. Whilst this usually sedate town empties during the day, the tide of racegoers floods back in late afternoon, to celebrate or commiserate their day at Prestbury Park. To help you decide where to go, I’ve used my local knowledge to put together my list of best bars Cheltenham Race Week.

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The Howard Arms in Ilmington

The Howard Arms

Rescued by two local families, who took the decision to give a fading pub a new lease of life, The Howard Arms in Ilmington has only recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment. I was lucky to be given the opportunity for a Saturday-night stay.

Dating back to the 16th century, this pub with rooms overlooks the village green in the peaceful south Warwickshire village of Ilmington. I’d never heard of this village before, but quickly discovered it’s a great location for exploring the north Cotswolds. The quintessentially beautiful villages of Broadway and Chipping Campden, and historic Stratford-upon-Avon, are all within 10 miles.

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New Year Stay in Cornwall

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

I don’t normally have the chance to stay in hotels or B&Bs in Cornwall, because we’re lucky to have a base we can use. But this New Year’s Eve, we branched out for a one-night New Year stay in Cornwall. It would also be my first opportunity to try Air B&B.

The reason we did this, I’m not ashamed to say, was alcohol. We’d booked tickets for a night at the Watering Hole pub on Perranporth beach, but lost our designated driver to a bug.

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Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle

The Queens' Garden at Sudeley

I was lucky to be invited to the launch night of the Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle this week. Despite the freezing conditions, the sub-zero December temperatures only added to the festive atmosphere.

Sudeley Castle is near Winchcombe, in the heart of the Cotswolds. It is the only private castle to have a queen buried within its grounds. The 15th century chapel is the final resting place of Katherine Parr, the last wife of King Henry VIII. Now a private home, opening to the public, the castle has a royal history dating back 1,000 years.

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Christmas Market Survival Guide

Munich Christmas Market, Survivor's Guide to Christmas Markets

It has become an annual tradition for Mum and I to eat, drink and shop our way around a European city every December. We’ve visited a Christmas market in Europe every year for the last 12 years or so. With all this experience under our belts, I’ve put together my 10 top tips for getting the most out of your Christmas Market break: a Christmas Market Survival Guide.

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Top 5 Christmas Markets in Europe

Lille, Top 5 Christmas Markets in Europe

Mum and I have visited a European Christmas market every year for the last 12 years or so. Having become somewhat something of a Christmas Market connoisseur, I’ve put together my guide to the Top 5 Christmas Markets in Europe.

While a lot of people think visiting Christmas Markets is all about shopping, for me it’s the food and drink that draws me in. Every one of these markets has the evocative smell of mulled wine wafting through the air. Depending on the location, this often mingles with the scent of hot sausages, roasting chestnuts or melted cheese. Over the years, we have worked our way through countless mugs of glühwein, along with hot chocolate mit rum, bratwurst, waffles, gulaschsuppe, crêpes, raclette, tartiflette and, one of my favourites so far, hot wood-smoked salmon.

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Visiting Westonbirt Arboretum

Following the seasonal trail through the Silk Wood

This year I managed to make my autumn colours pilgrimage a little earlier than usual. I did this by visiting Westonbirt Arboretum at the end of October, rather than chancing it to the middle of November. I’m glad I did, as, according to our guide at the arboretum, this particular weekend was deemed to be one of the best.

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Indian Cookery Course in the Cotswolds

Making sag aloo on the Indian Cookery Course

I’ve enjoyed a couple of cookery courses this year, and when I saw the range of classes on offer at The Foodworks Cookery School, it was an Indian cookery course that caught my eye. The cookery school is located on the edge of the Colesbourne Park Estate, between Cheltenham and Cirencester, in the Cotswolds.

It’s the first time I’ve been to The Foodworks and it was fairly easy to find. The converted barn was brightly lit and welcoming on a dark October evening. I was warmly greeted at the reception desk with a glass of wine and a Foodworks apron, then ushered through to the kitchen.

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