Travel

MTT Travel: Hill House, Norfolk

September 25, 2012

I have a confession to make: I’m not a girly girl. Yes, I love make-up, clothes and all those good things that us lot with vaginas get to do with our hair, but put me in a room of women and I will not know what to do with myself. The screeching, the cattiness, the drama, the girliness of it all… it scares me. I feel much more comfortable in a big room of testosterone watching a rugby match.

I do have some wonderful women friends, don’t get me wrong, but on occasion I find it pretty hard to connect with the fairer sex. I have two very very good girl friends, none of whom live close to me (NYC and Nottingham, grr) but whenever we are together it’s like no time has been apart. I know they are always there whenever I need to vent or a shoulder to cry on and I love them both dearly.

 

 

I suppose I could blame my lack of girlfriends on the fact that I met my husband at the age of 18 and from then on he has been my best friend, so I have never felt the need for much more support outside of him. I’ve never been on a girly holiday, don’t really do girly shopping trips and I’m only in touch with old girlfriends from school on Facebook.

But when I became a mother that changed. There are only so many mothering bits you can confide in your husband about before he starts to feel a bit grossed out and after spending a long time at home with the babies it’s a real relief to let my hair down with some girl time (this includes the brilliant Friday wine time, thanks to Kaisa!). Which is why I am so pleased to have found Jenny at Mothers Meetings.

Jenny is a first-time mum to gorgeous Sonny and once she became a parent she recognised the need for a space where creative and savvy mothers could get together and talk about stuff completely unrelated to kids (woohooh!). She runs amazing days out to Galleries, Museums and Shoreditch House and has just branched out into child-free get togethers for frustrated Mamas. I went to Bliss Spa with Mother’s Meetings a few weeks ago and have recently returned from a weekend break in the beautiful Norfolk countryside.

 

Wine at Hill House, Norfolk

 

The best bit about the whole weekend? There was none of the girly stuff I’m wary of. Well, there was a little bit of shrieking, but only after A LOT of wine had been consumed. And I shrieked along with the best of them. I think this means I am now a bonafide girl.

Our getaway was arranged in partnership with a website that I hadn’t heard of previously: Baby-Friendly Boltholes. BFB is ran by Sian (who is a mother herself) and is a collection of the most lovely holiday properties in the UK and Europe, all of which are completely child-friendly. I think it’s a brilliant idea, so instead of spending loads of effort trying to tailor your holiday to make sure it’s baby friendly, you can just pick one of BFB’s properties and base your holiday around that. And if Hill House Norfolk is anything to go by, their properties will all be absolutely divine.

 

Hill House, Norfolk

 

Hill House is an absolutely wonderful place located in between Norwich and Diss. It’s a beautifully renovated property with loads of great original features: fireplaces, an old staircase and beautiful beams. There are tons of luxury touches, too, like the Bang & Olufson sound system that is wired throughout the house and even in the garden, the great TVs, two Smeg fridges and a fully pimped-out kitchen with some great tools (a huge rack of Global knives) including an Aga. There’s even a games room with Pinball, Air Hockey and an Ice Cream vending machine!

I bagsied the biggest bedroom which I was going to share with Hattie, and got down to the serious business of relaxing.

 

Ladies at Hill House, Norfolk

 

Dinner was served the first night by Bill the fish-and-chip man who brought his van right to our front door. I’ve eaten plenty of fish-and-chips in my time and I have to say that these were some of the best I’ve ever had. They were so delicious and it was fabulous to see our food cooked right in front of our eyes. We then turned the quality B&O sound up to LOUD and had a good old party, the way that only mums know how (this means: wine, wine, off key singing and more wine, basically).

Because we were in the country we lit the log burning stove and there was plenty of gossiping and laughing and then more shrieking when we realised we had no idea how to turn of the smoke alarm. Note to self: just because you live in the countryside does not believe you know how to light a fire properly.

The next morning we all felt horrendous, so much so that I even ate breakfast in the bath (it helped, but I’m convinced that this bath could cure anyone’s ills).

 

The bath at Hill House, Norfolk

 

Jenny had put together some wonderful goodie bags for us all and a dig through them proved helpful: from the Neal’s Yard Beauty Sleep Concentrate which has been on my face every night since, Weleda Skin care whose Lavender Bath Milk I am now in love with to treats from BOYS&GIRLS (see how cute Elfie looks in their top – she’s wearing it today), Nixie clothing and Revlon make-up (classic red lips are now a total winner over here). She also included the first ever copy of Mother’s Meeting Motivation News (see top) and I was delighted to see some of my favourite internet people featured like Charlotte, Thais and Coralie. It was lovely to while away a couple of hours with the Motivation News and a cup of tea. Such a treat.

 

Magazines at Hill House, Norfolk

 

We spent the rest of the day doing a whole lot of nothing, a bit of a rarity when you’re a mother. Hill House provides plenty of magazines for you to relax with, more proof of their attention to detail (Vanity Fair! Notion! Dazed & Confused! Not a hint of Horse & Hound or Country Life) and we dug through their extensive DVD collection before settling on Bridesmaids and flopping down in the TV room – full of sofas and beanbags. Some of the ladies decamped to the local health spa, but me, I took a long shower instead.

That evening we had a Psychic come to visit. What a fun way to spend an evening! I’d never been to one before and I’m not sure that I’m a convert but it was definitely an experience. Whilst we were being told our fortunes the staff at Hill House (yes, there are staff available if you want them, and I wanted to bring them home with me) set up a cocktail bar in the lounge and lit the outdoor pizza oven ready for our evening meal.

 

Disco ball at Hill House, Norfolk

 

The Hill House Pizza Party kind of put mine to shame, but it was a great experience to put together our pizzas ourselves and watch them cook away in the oven. Funnily enough we were all feeling a bit hazy-with-hangover by that point so an early night was had  after a good old natter with the Psychic (she was pretty fascinating) and pudding on the sofas.

 

Pizza oven at Hill House, Norfolk

Outside dining at Hill House, Norfolk

 

As always it felt great to return to the kids the next day but I’d spent my time in Norfolk feeling so relaxed and devoid of responsibility that it was hard to get back into the swing of real life. If you are a mother in or near London I would urge you to take a look at Mother’s Meetings and consider coming along to one: the women I’ve met on these days out are so wonderfully inspiring, kind, funny and friendly. Just the kind of people I’d like to hang out with if I didn’t have a kid, basically. I came home feeling so lucky to have met them all and full of ideas for my next step in life (more on this soon!).

Thank you, Jenny, for getting all these great women together and for curing my fear of girly weekends away. Thank you Sian and Hill House for being wonderful hosts, I will be planning my next holiday with you! And a special thank-you to COOK who provided us with some of the most luxurious ready-made food I’ve ever seen which ensured that us mums didn’t have to lower ourselves to cooking a single meal for the whole weekend. I loved every second.

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12 Comments

  • Reply But why mummy why? September 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    One word: Jealous!!! x

    • Reply alice September 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      It was wonderful. I am jealous of myself too!

  • Reply KateQ September 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I keep hearing about Mothers Meetings everywhere at the moment. I hope I’ll be able to make it to a meeting when I’m a mum in a few months time – they look so fun. I am a bit scared of the whole mum group thing (although I have signed up to NCT begrudgingly as everyone told me I’d make friends) but this sounds a lot more my kind of thing!

    • Reply alice September 26, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      Congratulations! Definitely get yourself down to a Mother’s Meeting if you can – Jenny is wonderful and all the mums are so fun and friendly xx

  • Reply Amy September 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

    How funny, we’re off to a baby bolthole in Wales next week, can’t remember where I heard about them but suddenly seeing them pop up everywhere now!

    • Reply alice September 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      Oh do let me know how it is! I’m hoping to get a winter break at some point, it’d be great to see how you get on in Wales x

  • Reply Helen September 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Oh that bath looks so lush! I could just climb into it right now.

    • Reply alice September 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Me too! One criticism: my feet didn’t touch the end so it was pretty impossible to read a magazine… first world problems, I know!

  • Reply Hannah September 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Damn, I wish I was based closer to London. This Mother’s Meetings lark sounds good.

    • Reply alice October 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      They’re spreading! They just announced their first Midlands MM in Worcester and I’d like to get one going in this neck of the woods when I have a smidge more time…

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