A pint in the Cotswolds pub that inspired The Hobbit is a cracking way to spend your weekend break

But we’re sitting on a picnic blanket in the front garden of our lovely cottage in the hamlet of Aston Magna and for two whole hours not a single car has passed by.

My boyfriend Henry and I while away the hours soaking up the sun, G&T in hand, admiring the beautiful neighbouring cottages.

The Cotswolds is made for summer strolls and lounging around outside.

Aston Magna is on the outskirts of Moreton-in-Marsh, which has so many antique stores and pubs we opted for a hybrid antique shop-cum-pub crawl.

If the country is facing pub closures at unprecedented levels, no one has told these guys.

Author JRR Tolkien, who used to visit the area, was so impressed with The Bell Inn that he used it as the inspiration for The Prancing Pony, Middle-earth’s favourite pub in The Lord Of The Rings.

And while the inside is about as perfect as a village boozer can be, the garden was just the place for a pint of decent ale and proper pub grub.

It was just the start of a weekend of brewery-based indulgence as a rare sunny spring weekend saw us make the most of the outside spaces.

For other al-fresco fun we ate, drank and adored the Fox at Oddington and the Horse And Groom at Bourton-on-the-Hill.

Our cottage, booked through Sykes Cottages, was always the perfect place to return to after the excess.

The stone-brick property has huge old beams, a ­flagstone floor and a large woodburning stove in the dining room that has its own sitting area.

The house was deceptively large as there was yet another decent-sized reception room being used as a snug with woodburner-effect stove and TV.

It had more than enough room for six adults, with recently decorated bedrooms and two bathrooms.

There is enough outside space in the back garden to enjoy a barbecue.

A short stroll from our cottage was Batsford Stud, a famous stud farm just outside the village where we got to see tiny foals playing while their mothers lounged around an immaculate paddock.

The stud farm, village of Batsford and Batsford Arboretum sit on the Batsford Park Estate, once home to the famous Mitford sisters and their father, the 2nd Baron Redesdale The beauty of the estate was the inspiration for part of Nancy Mitford’s novel Love In A Cold Climate.

It’s not hard to find a fantastic pub. There’s pretty much one in every village — and I’m sure locals Jeremy Clarkson, Lily Allen and Damien Hirst wouldn’t have it any other way.

These days, Moreton-in-Marsh’s biggest claim to fame is the Fire Service College, a bizarre 300-acre training school with a fake motorway and railway, empty housing blocks and false office buildings.

It’s probably the most excitement this area of the country gets.

Think the English version of Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives but even MORE perfect.

There is nowhere better for a relaxing weekend break.


STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ self-catering at Forge Cottage in Aston Magna is from £82.50pp, based on six sharing.

See sykescottages.co.uk or call 01244 617683.


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