The complicated web of kiddie logistics had been meticulously spun. The all important green card from the husband was stuck firmly on the fridge door (well, I’d written SFH in permanent pen across the calendar after casually mentioning my plans one evening as he stumbled through the door smelling of kebab). It was sorted. I was going to Soho Farmhouse for 27 hours (yes, every second counted) with my hilariously funny and ridiculously generous friend Sophie.
Like most mothers of young ones (I have a 6, 4 and 1 year old), my average day is a stark contrast to the photos I had been excitedly nosing through on the SFH website. Typically, I’ve defused around 11 squabbles, done 15 nose and bum wipes, picked up (what feels like) 599 small pieces of plastic tat, applied 1 plaster, sung 6 renditions of ‘Part of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid and achieved over 80 minutes of weight lifting (in the form of a child) all within a day, whilst trying to work from home.
So you can imagine the heights of giddiness I reached when Sophie told me she was taking me away for one night of fun - that sounds far more suspect than intended! We were to be like Thelma and Louise (I refer to the care-free fishing trip scene as opposed to the dark attack, murder and brutal cliff dive part).
After a relaxing hours drive we found ourselves in the stunning countryside of Chipping Norton. A discreet sign showed us where to park and we were met by Mike who was equipped with a bright smile and two perfectly poured coffees. Well hello my new life for the next 27 hours. So of course the first place we headed to was the bar for a celebratory toast to our current freedom.
To soak up the gin we popped across the stony courtyard to the deli, where cold meats hung tastefully in the window, along with stacked jars of pickles and boxes of tea all made by beautifully packaged independent brands. It was a dangerously tempting place but our credit cards were saved (for now anyway) because it was time to be taken to our cabin.
We were shown around by Tim, who was equally professional and witty. Every last detail had been thought through scrupulously. The cabin was pure luxury in a rustic basic sort of way. Hunter wellies sat by the door and traditional bicycles were parked up outside with name labels flapping in the wind. It really was idyllic. After the inevitable ‘let’s jump on the super-king bed’, we headed over to the gym for a dip in the hot tub followed by an indulgent facial. I really did feel 5 years younger, despite my flush appearance (a relaxed glow).
I try to live my life without having any major regrets so when we headed back to the cabin I filled up the outside bath tub, along with an array of Cowshed products, and hopped into the mountain of bubbles with a large glass of fizz. This was one of those freeze-frame moments and I truly relished it. Much to Sophie’s delight I wrapped myself in a fluffy white robe and we slowly got ready just in time for the cocktail van to arrive - I kid you not! The hatch on this converted milk float popped up and Alex greeted us with a cocktail menu, punchy tunes and an impressive stack of mint.
What followed was a face-achingly hilarious evening of cocktails, dinner within the main bar where we were looked after by the ‘best waitress ever’ (I think we might’ve overdone the compliments there) and a wobbly cycle back to our cabin which shamefully neither of us remember. To ease the somewhat sore heads the next day, we had had the foresight to pre-book the breakfast van to arrive at 10.00am - genius! We watched Andre cook us a fry up, with a side portion of guilt - fresh fruit salad in our case - which we gobbled up (unlike our kids’ guilt portions at home of carrots which usually get left). And then we simply sat. The sun was shining and we closed our eyes and listened to the blissfully unfamiliar sound of silence. This hard task of sitting and doing nothing was endured for over an hour before it was time to show off our white legs and take a plunge in the 29 degrees infinity pool.
The pool practically overlapped the adjoining lake and there we saw four little rowing boats which were begging for a Bridget Jones and Daniel Cleaver re-enactment. I’ve often drawn the parallels between Sophie and Miss Jones, so I’m thankful that I didn’t end up like Mr Cleaver did in their lake scene (he toppled in head first). I was secretly quite pleased with myself for skilfully navigating around the lake problem free.
Our 27 hours of blissful freedom were drawing to a close so we took advantage of the sunshine and ate prawns, salad and pavlova outside in the courtyard.
It’s not often you get to swap the daily demands of being a parent for a life where somebody else pours you tea, clears away the dishes and picks up the wet towels. My current life juggling three small children, housework and working from home, is leaps and bounds from the haven they have created here. But it’s probably for this reason why my 27 hours at Soho Farmhouse was so special. A place to escape to, where I was able to defog my head of all the ‘noise’. Sophie and I have made a pact to put aside a bit of money each month so we can make this a yearly thing. Perhaps something everyone should do? It was far more than a boozy trip away from the kids. It recharged my batteries, cleared my mind and has given me some dear memories. Until next time…