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Exploring the English Countryside with Cloudy Bay

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

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My husband is VERY urban (note the upper case), preferring the hustle bustle of the metropolis to the slower pace of life in villages. Celebrating a full decade in the U.K requires a visit to the famed English countryside - the rolling hills, the oddly comforting sounds of trains chugging in the far distance, rape fields and sheep grazing in pastures.

I decided to whisk the husband away on a rare countryside jaunt. It's been a hectic year and it'll continue to be so for the next year. We needed a break and unplug from the unrelenting challenges and just chill for a few days.




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My obsession with quirky accommodations started after stumbling upon a rustic treehouse cum guesthouse near Lake Mapourika in the South Island, New Zealand while I was on a road trip nearly 20 years ago. It has shown no sign of abating decades later. I've dragged the tween, now teen on several shepherd's hut getaways. I will be the first to admit that I'd stayed in my fair share of "rustic" places and frankly speaking, it's a case of been there, done that. I like nature, flushable toilets and electricity though not necessarily in that order.



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We brought along a reminder of New Zealand - Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2019 and a picnic basket full of makings of a cheese platter. The French ewes' milk cheese, Stilton, slices of prosciutto, grapes and late season figs paired beautifully with the latest offering from Cloudy Bay. The elegant  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2019  (Cloudy Bay's 35th vintage) is full of character and has fresh notes of passionfruit, white peach, lime leaf and citrus. A simple supper with a captivating view of the tranquil farmland from the hut.




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Oops, I spoke too soon. A few minutes later, the unpredictable British weather had us scrambling to bring our supper indoors in front of the fire. It was sublime curling up on the sofa listening to the rain. In fact, I've learned to enjoy doing........nothing.

On a side note, I've had the privilege of meeting Steven Planthaber, Cloudy Bay's Operations Manager based in Blenheim, New Zealand at an event in Palma de Mallorca last year. I was curious about what made Marlborough ideal as a wine growing region. Growing up in New Zealand, I'd known Cloudy Bay since its early days as a small and independent winery in the 90s before it became a powerhouse that it is today. Interestingly enough, the contrasting weather (cool mornings and nights and hot afternoons) is a key requirement to allow the grapes to build fruit intensity.  But what about Central Otago with its daily and seasonal temperature extremes and harsh climate, I asked? What struck me was Steven mentioning something very profound to me; Grapes have to experience "obstacles" in order to build stronger character. Ditto for people.


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We were gently woken up from our slumber by an orchestra of birdsong in the morning. I could hear the fluttering of wings just outside the window.




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But first.......coffee followed by a walk. And a staring contest between the sheep and I. I lost.





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I've been dying to go to Rye for years and years. My only excuse was it's a 3.5 hours drive from Winchester. Thankfully, it was a very quick drive to the town centre from the hut  The picture perfect Rye with its Tudor architecture and cobbled streets is seeped in medieval history every corner I turned.




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One can't leave Rye without paying Mermaid Inn a visit. Once a smugglers' meeting place, it's also been named as one of the most haunted places in the U.K.


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We paid a small donation to climb up the tower of St Mary's church. What you get is a 360 degree view of the entire town and more. The view was certainly far more spectacular in person than I was able to capture on my camera.




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I'd read about The Plough and ensured I made it there for lunch. It's on the outskirts of Rye and easy to get to if you have a car. The menu is a gourmand's heaven. We settled for fish and chips since Rye is by the sea and was once known as a fishing village. The cod was incredibly fresh and cooked to perfection as were the hand-cut chips and mushy peas. In fact, we devoured the entire dish. If only I could stay for a few more nights to sample the rest of their menu.





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Next stop: The Cotswolds or Somerset, to be more precise. I've been to more well known Cotswolds villages such as Bibury, Lacock, Castle Combe etc but this time, I wanted somewhere more off the beaten track.



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I suppose you could say we stayed in a poshed up version of a treehouse. The husband was a little ambivalent about the tree branches jutting through the bedroom walls and windows.




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We kicked back, sipped a glass of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2019 and nibbled on the cheese as we watched the cinematic transformation of the skies with the steady burbling water from the nearby brook providing nature's sound effects. 




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I rummaged through our picnic basket and dug out remnants of last night's dinner. There's an unopened Pié d'Angloys cheese; deliciously creamy at room temperature,  a packet of Italian flatbread and a few figs to cleanse our palate.




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The 35th vintage Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is available now at Clos19. Enter code COOKIESNCANDIES  to get 10% discount on all Cloudy Bay wines & orders over £75 or 75€. Available in the UK and Germany from November 1 – November 30, 2019.








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The little known sleepy village of Nunney village is a short drive away.  It's an utterly fascinating with its 12th century church.



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We stopped to explore Nunney castle complete with a deep moat and drawbridge. It was built for Sir John Delamare in 1373 taking inspiration from Bastille fortress in France. It later fell into the hands of Marquess of Winchester. Okay, I did find this trivia fascinating seeing that I live in Winchester and didn't know there's a supposed title attached to the area. In fact, the Marquessate of Winchester title is known to be oldest British Marquessate in existence.

The 3 day 2 night getaway ended a little too soon. I wish we have a bit more time to explore the area.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by my favourite brand, Cloudy Bay which I'm very fond of and had celebrated many happy memories with since my early years in New Zealand. They're offering a 10% discount to U.K and Germany residents for all Cloudy Bay purchases above £75 or €75 with the code COOKIESNCANDIES. Offer expires on 30th November 2019.




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