A Lush Stay at Chicheley Hall

We recently had a lovely family weekend break at Chicheley Hall. I’ve raved about getting away as a family before, even if it is only for a day and a night. I know prepping to leave for a night away with a baby can be a bit daunting – but it’s so worth it!

Even one night away allowed us to recalibrate and reconnect as a family, minus all the distractions of every day life. Especially after a prolonged back injury that my other half has had. Luckily, the drive wasn’t too far from us – with Chicheley Hall being in the lush green countryside of Buckinghamshire. We passed through some cute villages en route too and I even drove on the motorway for the first time!

Our first impressions upon arrival was how charming the grounds and drive to the house was. Chicheley Hall is a gorgeous English Baroque style country home which promised a lovely stay.

SLEEP

Each bedroom is named after a distinguished scientist. we stayed in the Bohr room – he developed the structure of the atom and was a major contributor to quantum physics. I felt this added a little quirk and uniqueness to Chicheley Hall. Our room had stunning views of the grounds. It’s always so lush to wake up to big windows overlooking beautiful grounds in the morning as the sun creeps through.

We had a baby cot provided, but as usual he works his way in between us during the night so it didn’t get much use! Arthur loves a good roll around the bed so he had endless fun wriggling about and playing with the velvet cushions. Who needs toys?

We had a handy sofa in the room also which was nice to chill and read a book while Arthur napped. There are lots of interesting reads available in the hallways.

EAT

Chicheley Hall are somewhat forward thinking with their menu. They are purposefully improving this to be more inclusive for certain dietary requirements, particularly for vegans. It’s always reassuring when the menu specifically states vegan. Additionally, with Arthur having potential allergies, the listed allergens are highly important for us.

Afternoon Tea

We were treated to a beautiful afternoon tea soon after arrival. It was perfect timing after our drive there.

On the vegan platter I had a selection of sandwiches, cakes, puddings and fresh fruit. I was especially impressed with the lemon drizzle cake as this is my favourite! This was closely followed by a gorgeous coconut pudding.

We enjoyed this afternoon tea by a gorgeous bay window as we unwound after our drive to Chicheley Hall.

My other half, who is not vegan had a massive tray to get through and would have been ideal for sharing.

Afternoon tea with a very wriggly and active baby proves interesting. Getting my hot drink and shovelling cake down my face while bouncing an almost 11kg baby is quite the skill. Although there was a high chair provided, he didn’t last in it very long so was on Mumma’s lap trying to grab my cup and everything in sight.

Dinner

It’s always so lovely going out for dinner and even more so that Arthur could be by our side for our evening meal. We keep meaning to have a date night by ourselves. For the first few months of being parents we couldn’t bare the thought of leaving him at night. That along with the tiredness, I’m not sure we’d even manage to get out the door.

The restaurant began serving at 19:00 which is Arthur’s bed time usually. However the restaurant itself was fairly quiet meaning he slept soundly in his pram without disturbance. This gave us some quality time to munch, chat and get a little merry on the vegan wine.

I was really impressed with the bar staffs knowledge on vegan drinks. He knew which wine was vegan – which typically not many people are aware of this. He too showed a keen interest in certain allergens with minimal prompting.

The service is great at Chicheley Hall, with our needs being tended to diligently. I had a delicious, creamy parsnip soup to begin. This was followed by a flavoursome main course of Gnocchi and rocket salad. Although this was the only vegan option, I was totally satisfied with it. I am certain that if I wasn’t happy, it would be no hassle in requesting something different.

 

Room Service

After our two course meal felt like blobbing out on our massive bed and getting Arthur into his. We were delighted to get our desserts delivered by room service a short while later. This vegan dessert was like a flavour explosion! A trio of sorbets with fresh fruit was the perfect end to our evening of food.

Breakfast

For breakfast, the usual buffet is available. With hot cooked foods, cereals, fruits, breads and juices. Although not exclusively vegan, I always know the stuff to go for! Namely beans and hash browns which are my go to for a hot savoury breakfast. The buffet mushrooms were cooked in butter so the chef, without even asking made me some vegan ones.

One thing I will admit to missing was having a choice of milks for breakfast. I am usually an oat, coconut or nut milk fan over soya. The manager seemed quite receptive to this idea, so I’m trusting my feedback might contribute to their progress in further veganising the menu.

Afternoon Stroll

Chicheley Hall is typically hired for weddings. This really isn’t surprising as it’s beautifully kept English baroque style grounds makes a lovely backdrop. We had a nice afternoon stroll after lunch, taking in all the fresh air and even saw some spring flowers come through. The nearest large town to Chicheley Hall is Milton Keynes. We weren’t keen to leave however as we just wanted to settle and take things slowly.

 

Overall, we had a lovely stay at Chicheley Hall. We felt completely comfortable and at ease, from the great service to chilling in our lush room with our robes on by Saturday night.

We stayed here for one day and a night which was the perfect amount. It was like a country get away where we could forget about our chores and just relax. We can see how Chicheley Hall would make a special location for an event like a wedding and equally for a quick family break.

Disclaimer: Our stay at Chicheley Manor was hosted in return for an honest review. All words are my own.

Eat Vegan at The Manor Country House Hotel

Recently we had the pleasure of staying at the Manor Country House Hotel in Oxford, with the aim of writing a guest blog for Travel Mad Mum. This beautiful manor home is located in the lush countryside, just fifteen minutes from the centre.

The Manor Country House Hotel

As our first family weekend away with baby Arthur, we were excited but also a little nervous about what to pack and whether it would be worth our while packing everything up for two nights. We get so comfortable at home it’s easy to never leave the house sometimes!

Once we arrived on the Friday evening, we felt right at home entering the cosy lobby with the fire blazing. The staff were so lovely, helping us bring our bags and baby stuff to the room.

The Manor Country House Hotel was the perfect choice for this Autumn break. They had everything we needed as a family with baby.

FOOD at the manor country house hotel

I was pleasantly surprised for such a traditional manor home, they were forward thinking with the menu and exceeded my expectations.

Dinner at the manor country house hotel

We enjoyed our five year anniversary dinner Friday evening in the grand hall. Arthur was quietly sleeping in his pram as we relaxed with a glass of wine. We had the choice of a fine dining menu, with some deliciously crafted raw food dishes. Also on offer was the bar food menu which was a bit heartier, so satisfied the other half after a long day working and driving. Due to the lights being dim in the hall, it did not serve to get great food pictures. I enjoyed a quinoa, roasted roots and cauliflower purée dish with a side of chunky chips. I adored the brownie dessert – I love how raw desserts taste so decadent and luscious.

Most memorable of this evening was how relaxed and at home we felt. We were well attended to and had benefit of great food, good wine all while baby Arthur was by our side.

Breakfast at the manor country house hotel

The next day, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast, served hot drinks by the friendly staff. We had the choice of cereals, toast, fruit, nuts and juices. The chef whipped me up a cooked breakfast as it’s always nice to have warm food after a couple of glasses of vino the previous night. It was our anniversary after all. This set us up for our day exploring Oxford town centre.

Afternoon Tea at the manor country house hotel

Having spent the morning exploring Oxford Town Centre, we were excited to get back to the cosy Manor Home for our planned vegan afternoon tea. This was such a lovely experience. We dined in the lovely, bright front room with a view of the lush gardens.

I had Arthur in his wrap all cuddled up while we sipped on fresh teas. The cakes and sandwiches were so good, all the sandwiches were varied so we didn’t get bored. We even had warm fresh scones jam and a vegan cream. I couldn’t have asked for more and Arthur was happy chilling on me while I munched and sipped away.

Room service at the manor country house hotel

On our final evening, we were fairly tired after a big day out exploring. We were happy to chill in our big, cosy room, watch Saturday night television in our cosies and order room service. I was so happy to hear they had vegan gnocchi. I’d never had this before so had to order it with a side of olives.

Being a breastfeeding Mumma, some of you will understand how ravenous we get! I mean, we’re technically burning up to 700 calories a day, rapidly growing our wonderful little beings. This is why the food would always be a highlight for me, with brownie points for establishments that make the effort for vegan options. It was actually quite nice that we didn’t have to venture out of the hotel grounds for good food, especially not feeling too comfortable being out late with baby.

Overall, The Manor Country House Hotel really exceeded our expectations. Read more about our stay and the family friendliness of this cosy, lovely manor home. Check out my guest post for Travel Mad Mum here.

Our stay was gratefully hosted by The Manor Country House Hotel in exchange for an honest review.

Made in Hackney


I had the opportunity to attend a raw dessert making masterclass at Made in Hackney, Stoke Newington. I learnt how to make lots of delicious, beautiful raw chocolates, raw tarts and petit fours. Sounds fancy, and delicious right?

But first, before I chat about the day let me tell you a little about Made In Hackney.

Made in Hackney is an eco-community based kitchen set up with locals at heart. It is a non-profit organisation, offering free and pay by donation food growing and healthy cooking classes to a diverse community, particularly inclusive of vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Not only does Made in Hackney equip people with healthy eating knowledge and skills to benefit ones self and the environment, a sense of social inclusion is promoted. London, despite being a great city, has high levels of social isolation which can lead to physical and mental health problems. Coming from a background in mental health, I could totally appreciate the importance of having a community.

I loved hearing the story of a recently widowed gentleman who’s wife had cooked for him his whole life. Although he attended to learn how to make himself eggs and bacon, he kept returning to the classes as they made a difference to him, despite it being plant based cooking!

Made in Hackney also maintains an ethos of sustainability, with the foods used in classes being 100% plant based, primarily locally farmed, organic and seasonal.

Additionally, they provide training and volunteer experience – helping people into longer term employment by providing a space to enhance ethical food entrepreneurship. This whole model, if replicated, would bring innumerable benefits to local communities across the country.

Made in Hackney promotes a real sense of empowerment whilst having a positive impact on the community. It left a great impression on me and left me feeling quite inspired. I could really resonate with it’s ethos and core values. And that was in addition to what I learnt at the cooking class.

✨ The Masterclass ✨

The whole day was informative yet informal. I attended the “Food For All” health food shop at 11:45, where Made in Hackney is located on the bottom floor. I had the chance to buy some treats in the health food store before commencing class at 12:00.
There was a group of around 7 learners, 2 volunteers and the wonderful instructor, Natural Chef Ceri Jones. Ceri’s approach was relaxed, warm and engaging – ready to answer any questions the group had.

Following introductions, we talked through the pantry essentials for raw dessert making, alongside the process behind it and useful equipment. We had the opportunity to observe demonstrations then built on the basics of making raw chocolates to the more skilled cheesecakes and tarts. All ingredients may I mention are supplied by the kitchen.

I loved breaking for lunch half way through with the group – enjoying some (ok lots) of home made hummus and a big plate of roasted veggie buckwheat tabbouleh with rocket salad and balsamic glaze – all freshly prepared by Ceri. It was great to chat to the others about their passions for plant-based living, permaculture, sustainability and natural cooking.

We also had the opportunity to find out more about Made in Hackney’s journey. I’ve included founder Sarah Bentley’s recent TEDx talk at the bottom of this page about how she built this organisation.

Getting back to the kitchen afterwards – we learned how to make pretty garnishes from fruit and other ingredients. Garnishing is always my favourite part of making food.

Another memorable moment of the day was at the end when all the desserts were cooled and ready to be eaten. Rather than tucking right in – we each took a piece of chocolate and tasted it mindfully with our eyes closed, allowing us to appreciate it’s texture and flavour.

Overall, the masterclass was a truly immersive experience. We all had the chance to put our own individual style to each dish. We finished up at 16:30 – and thanks to the volunteers, we didnt have to wash up. I managed to make the journey home without eating all of my take home treats. I felt the need to share them with the other half and not be a complete greedy guts!

What we made:

  • Basic Raw Chocolate – little raw chocolate buttons, various shapes and after eights, dehydrated blood arranged dipped in choc.
  • Chocolate orange mousse in chocolate cups
  • Avocado Lime Cheesecake
  • Individual Lemon Tarts
  • Apricot and ginger bliss balls.


So by attending a masterclass at Made in Hackney, not only have you got a day jam packed with learning and delicious food, you are also contributing to this vital work they do with the community. It’s a win win. Remember you can book this experience through visit.org

Watch founder, Sarah Bentley’s TEDx talk here.

Also check out Ceri’s Natural Kitchen Adventure website for more raw food, seasonal and plant based recipes – although not entirely plant based – Ceri does provide some good recipes.