A Quiet Holiday in the English Countryside
An invitation to spend several days in the English countryside is an extremely enticing proposition. Never mind that it means traveling from the other side of the world.
The promise of tea and scones in an old stone house surrounded by green pastures dotted with sheep makes my romantic heart leap at the mere thought.
And thus I find myself at the Thyme Hotel on the Southrop estate in the Cotswolds, about an hour and a half out of bustling London.
We are with journalists from around the world for the launch of Jo Malone London’s bright new fragrance Honeysuckle & Devana.
Town&Country has been chosen to represent the Philippines, and I am accompanied by a wonderful travel buddy, Estee Lauder’s Camille Oloan. We have just spent a fabulous three days whizzing around London, and this trip to the country is the perfect counterbalance to the mad scramble of the town life. It’s the brand’s first global product launch event outside of London, which makes it extra special.
Camille Oloan and Yvette Fernandez
We are enveloped in the fragrance of Jo Malone London’s lime basil and mandarin candles as I make my way up to my quarters with a four-poster bed and a roll-top cast iron bathtub overlooking a lovely manicured English garden.
The urge to sink into the covers is overwhelming, but I resist. Instead, I meet up with Camille for a brisk walk down the single pebbled road threading through the quiet hamlet flanked by farmhouses and old trees.
We lunch at The Swan, the ivy-covered pub down the street, which serves deliciously simple fare made with the freshest ingredients. We have Welsh rarebit, tasty morsels of melted English cheese over toast, and Scotch eggs, runny boiled eggs encased in ground pork, and loin of healthy local Southrop lamb.
Which makes us feel just a wee bit guilty as we head back to our cottage and come across a herd of bleating sheep in a nearby meadow. Theirs is the only sound we hear in the silence, aside from the wind whistling through the treetops.
We have a bit of a break before dinner and I draw myself a luxurious bath with a generous pour of Jo Malone London Pomegranate Noir bath oil, after which I slather on the brand’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt body crème, one of my favorite scents.
Then we are off to twilight cocktails among the flowers in the garden, and a candlelit dinner in the loft-like high-ceilinged farmhouse. The menu is again made up of locally grown ingredients—goat’s curd with pea shoots, beetroot, and pickled berries. Grilled hake is served with potatoes, as well as lentils braised in red wine. And oh, the sweetened strawberries over meringue is delightful. Our handsome guides walk us back to our cottages with lanterns to light up the pitch-black darkness.
At daybreak, I put on my pair of Hunter rubber boots, a British heritage brand which has a royal warrant of appointment to Queen Elizabeth the Second and the Duke of Edinburgh, and
When I get back, it’s like a step back in time as buses built in 1949—with bus drivers who look just as old—are ready for boarding to take us through country roads lined with golden fields of canola flowers, deeper into the English countryside.
We soon arrive at another estate with an ivy-covered manor topped with turrets and gables. We head across the manicured lawns to the sun-filled glass-ceilinged conservatory, the setting of our trip’s main event: the global press launch of Jo Malone London’s Honeysuckle & Davana, the bright, glorious new fragrance of Jo Malone London by master perfumer Anne Flipo and Celine Roux, the brand’s global head of fragrance.
Ann Flipo and Celine Roux
Town&Country editor Yvette Fernandez with Jo Malone London master perfumer Anne Flipo, the brand's general manager in the Philippines Camille Oloan, and the brand’s global head of fragrance Celine Roux.
Celine describes the sweet scent of the golden flower of her childhood as one that evolves throughout the day to attract different bees, butterflies, and insects at different times of day and night. Celine says they first went to capture the fragrance in the afternoon at golden hour, and later, after a long wait with a bottle of Champagne, when the scent was warm like honey. It was exactly what they were looking for.
In my case, the scent, when layered with my favorite Grapefruit, makes a perfect combination of floral, citrus, and honey. Bright and happy. For the evenings, Celine recommends layering it with the more intense Oud & Bergamot, for a more mysterious, sexier blend.
We have tea with jam and bread, and avocado toast and
Back at the farmhouse, we lunch on cold gazpacho, salads of lettuce, carrots, and beets, freshly baked quiche, local sausages, cheese, and chutneys, shortcake and bar cookies.
In the afternoon, we attend a cookery class. We simmer strawberries in sugar syrup to make jars of jam. We whip a floral essence with heavy cream till its peaks stiffen and become solid, then squeeze out the buttermilk and dip into ice water to magically create a lovely
The highlight of the day: mixing double cream, flour, and sugar and baking our own beautiful golden scones, which I must say myself, turn out to be pretty damn good.
We have our freshly made creations for afternoon tea and honestly, it is the Best. Tea. Ever.
After an early dinner back at the pub, we say goodbye to friends who are already heading back to the city. We turn in for the evening, and I enjoy one last soak in my iron tub. What a lovely mini break it has been. Good night, Cotswolds, good night.