Sunday, 22 April 2007

Castle Cottage Tree House

What a trip. I booked the Tree House near Petworth back in October after seeing it featured in Olive Magazine on Cowie's birthday... I only found it because she managed to lock me in her house and had to courier her keys home to me! As they say every cloud has a silver lining... and our silvery lining was finding the tree house to beat all tree houses!

We had to book 6 months in advance but the wait was well worth it... trips to Argentina, Barcelona and the Lakes came and went in the meantime (more on them later)...

After a typically arduous week at work we drove down to the tree house via Godalming specifically to go to their fish and chips shop. It seemed a good idea to save some money and not rush. Our planning paid off as we wolfed down some first class haddock and cod accompanied by fluffy chips and acres of tartare sauce.

Arriving at the tree house happened more by luck than judgement. Our instructions, pulled from their website were so detailed that they were incredibly hard to follow... "at the second post box after the dusty sign you can either go left or right but make sure you are going uphill... after the dead badger make sure you drive safely around the corner and look out for a church". Given that it was pitch black we just followed the map instead!

Ron greeted us like long lost Naval friends and showed us along the seductively lit path to the mysterious tree house we had travelled so far to stay in... Created out of a sweet chestnut the structure is actually supported by telegraph poles, but you'd only realise this if you happened to take a big sniff on a hot day...

The balcony was decked out with 2 cotton hamocks being overlooked by a slightly frayed stuffed lion/tiger (even after 2 days we couldn't tell what it was). Pulleys winches and a defunct sauna completed the decking area that we spent so long reading the papers on and sipping gin and tonics. You look down from the perch onto an emerald green pond past a wicker pidgeon.

The room itself featured an enormous and utterly brilliant bed, heavy suede curtains, an enormous wardrobe (that neither of us used), flat screen telly, bright brass sink and leopard skin bedding! What more could you want from a room... let alone a tree house!

My excitement escalated as I sipped tea whilst reading a selection of "how to build your ultimate tree house" books... I had no idea such a cult existed! Maybe Cowie will let me join. I still feel a bit bereft that my old tree house in Stevington has been taken down, tree and all!

I haven't slept this well in ages... both nights we both slept without even an inkling of waking up. Even our dreams were sweet... Probably helped by the weather being very favourable and not blowing us to kingdom come.

Breakfast started badly. Very badly. I was almost hospitalised after headbutting the rather low hanging chandalier. It actually turned out to be a very good way of breaking the ice with our fellow guests... all of whom were green with envy 'cos we were in the tree house and they weren't!!!

It got better and better as we moved on from an impecabble full English (with the best fried egg ever) to their incredible array of things to go with your toast. Homemade madmalade and blackberry jam were sensational and all the better for being smeared on home made bread. Coffee arrived sizzling to the table and did a great job of making me forget about the slightly bloody lump on my forehaed!

Their recommendations of things to do during the day were typically strewn with idiosyncratic directions. But they worked. Arundel was brilliant. Even the ludicrous pricing of the castle at £13 each worked in our favour as we realised that neither of us wanted to go there anyway! We found a cracking deli that supplied us with incredibly Stinking Bishop, salami, jam and bread which we feasted on in a field near Diddlington on the South Downs. This was England at its most relaxing best.

Dinner was just what we wanted. Fishy. Informal. Tasty. Local. For more see Cowie's post here.

This was only ever supposed to be a cheeky little weekend break away. But we returned to London so re-energised that it felt like a 2 week holdiay.

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