TERRIFIC TROGLODYTE TRIP!
Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita – it’s a hotel in a 9,000 year old cave in the ancient city of Matera. That pretty much sums up the hotel but it doesn’t really do it justice…it’s a little bit more than just a cave hotel as it’s also a project in ecology and sympathetic restoration and an exciting adventure for its guests.
We first came across Matera, in Puglia, southern Italy (near the boot heel) when we learnt of the Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita hotel (a stunning cave hotel which we quickly added to our bucket list and just as quickly planned a visit to). I had mentioned to my Italian hairdresser (from Naples) that Elldrew were heading there for 4 days and all he asked was “Why?” I explained to him about the hotel and he seemed a little bemused, whilst having heard of the city he hadn’t realised that it had, in fact, reached international tourist status. After some rather extensive research prior to booking the hotel (we didn’t want to be stuck in a place that couldn’t keep us amused for days, especially when our travel dates were dictated by a very limited flight schedule), we actually began to look forward to exploring the delights of this ancient city.
Following on from our jaunt at Bishopstrow House, Elldrew recently had the pleasure of another country weekend, this time at the Four Seasons in Hampshire (courtesy of a special friend who was celebrating a special birthday; both the friend’s name and age shall be withheld to preserve ones modesty). Unlike Bishopstrow where it was the two of us, this trip saw 20 friends converge on the New Forest for a fun filled weekend away!
Regular readers will know that Elldrew like to escape the London rat race, so with the Christmas madness behind us and Ell’s birthday ahead we booked a weekend at Bishopstrow House in Wiltshire. Having done several country house weekends in the UK our favourite, by far, was a few years back when we stayed at Cowley Manor (pre-blog setup, before you go searching). Since then we’ve tried to find a good reason to go back, but being amongst the top in its class it also carries a certain premium price tag. For this trip we wanted somewhere that wouldn’t break the bank, a 3-night long weekend not too far from London.
“What time’s the restaurant booked for?” Elldrew enquiry.
“One o’clock, it’s about 15 mins drive away” comes a reply from a busy kitchen, kids hair frantically being brushed.
“But it’s 12.55pm now!” shrieks the ever prompt Ronnie.
“Don’t worry, no one ever arrives on time in France” informs our host.
BORDEAUX TO ROQUÉPINE
Toulouse-Lautrec was all I could think about as the captain announced our descent. We were descending into Bordeaux, not Toulouse, so Monsieur Lautrec didn’t have much relevance but nevertheless I thought of him…perhaps it was because Elldrew were about to embark on a weekend of gastronomy in Gascony and our route would take us south towards Toulouse.
Australia. It’s a very big country, isolated in the middle of a big ocean, with lots of big empty spaces, so it’s not somewhere you’d expect to have size issues. However on a recent jaunt ‘Down Under’ Elldrew discovered that, in fact, the truth is quite the opposite – amongst the marsupials, wonders of the outback and beauty of Sydney Harbour, Australia has a lesser known series of tourist sites collectively referred to as the “Big Things”. Not wonders of nature, nor feats of engineering, these ‘Big Things’ are a random mix of oversized fibreglass objects varying from the ‘Big Mosquito’ to the ‘Big Oyster’ with detours via the ‘Big Didgeridoo’, ‘Big Potato’ and even the ‘Big Poo’. It seems that they come and go and although there is no formal count, estimates suggest there are around 150 ‘Big Things’ scattered across Oz. Some are “official” ‘Big Things’ others are subject to the viewer’s perspective, and not wanting our readers to miss out Elldrew bravely battled the bush to seek out a handful of these official and unofficial ‘Big Things’.