You know when you see competitions going round on Facebook? I’ve always been convinced that no one ever wins these things. But last month I actually won the Reach Festival ‘Spot The Mini’ competition, where if you spotted one of the Reach-branded Mini Coopers and uploaded it to Facebook; you could win not only 4 x Festival tickets to Yorkshire’s hottest new festival; you’d also win a Mini Cooper Convertible for the weekend!
Seeing as a trip to London was long overdue, it was the bank holiday AND both my mum’s and Grandma’s birthdays over the weekend; it was the perfect opportunity for a Mini Adventure and so, thanks to Stratstone Mini Harrogate, I whisked my mum away in a brand new Mini Cooper S Convertible for a weekend of family and fun.
This car had it all. Gadgets and Gizmos aplenty, if you will. Obviously we cruised with the top down for most of the journey, until the grey skies and typically British Bank Holiday weather threatened to drench us and the car with an outburst of rain shower. At this point, the roof came up and we zoomed our way down the M1 towards our first port of call; Bicester Outlet Village on the outskirts of Oxford.
It was my first time at Bicester Outlet Village and it did not disappoint. Here you’ll find incredible labels and designer brands with huge reductions. Think 30-50% off Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Fendi, Saint Laurent, Dior and Mulberry.
Unfortunately I hadn’t quite prepared myself (savings wise) for these kind of bargains, however I did pick up a beautiful coat from Sandro that was reduced from £559 to £150.
Bicester looks like a cute little village too. Unfortunately it was raining pretty hard when we were there, so this is the best shot I could get. All the more reason for you to go and check it out yourself.
On Sunday, I was thrilled to finally make it to The Wellington in Fulham, which has recently been converted from a dilapidated ‘old man’s pub’ into a wood-clad, cosy and quirky local boozer. I’d heard great things about The Wellington and it certainly did not disappoint.
The Wellington has a cool, young vibe with a spectacular drinks menu, trendy decor (complete with zebra striped phone-box photo booth) and a warm and inviting atmosphere.
For the Bank Holiday Sunday, there was an American style Frat party theme and thus, the pub was decorated accordingly. Even the cow seat was dressed in red, white and blue.
And that’s when I spotted what could now rival tequila as my favourite tipple. There, gently swirling in a slushy machine was Frosé; a delicious concoction made of rosé wine and crushed ice.
It looks like this:
Now I need to mention the barbecue. Hosted by Prairie Fire Barbecue while The Wellington get their kitchen sorted (From September 2016 they’ll be offering traditional British pub grub), you’ll not be able to resist ordering something from the Kansas City inspired menu.
I ordered a burger, which comes with a double pattie as standard and served with molten cheese and their own secret recipe BBQ sauce. This was carnivorous decadence at its finest. The burger was so juicy that you have to carefully angle your bites, so that the juices don’t drip all down your front. It’s more-rish, with intense flavour and incredible taste. I kid you not, this burger was the best I’ve ever had.
Here’s what they looked like:
One burger and several drinks later, it was unfortunately time to call it a night. I’ll definitely be coming back to The Wellington next time I’m down in London!
The next leg of our Mini Adventure involved a trip down the M4 towards The Cotswolds. With it being both my mum and grandma’s birthday, we were picking her up to take her for lunch at Whatley Manor, near Malmesbury in Wiltshire.
It was her first time ever in a convertible and she was so excited! She even wore a little headscarf and looked like the Queen whilst cruising in the passenger seat.
Whatley Manor is an 18th century manor, set within 12 acres of beautiful gardens and is now home to a luxury country-house hotel and restaurant. It’s a magnificent hotel, with croquet on the lawn and a stroll around the grounds as activities of choice.
Despite its English country heritage, the hotel’s restaurant is decorated like a Swiss Chalet. Wooden chairs, tables and goat herd lighting fixtures (yes really) are the name of the game here and the menu is also reminiscent of ski holidays and alpine cuisine.
So of course, we all opted for a Truffle Fondue as a sharing starter, so we could really get into the alpine spirit of things. Served with crusty bread and bacon-topped buttery potatoes for purposes of dipping, it did not disappoint.
As it was my mum’s and grandma’s birthdays, the house violinist at Whatley Manor and all the restaurant staff came over to serenade them while we sang happy birthday to them – so cute!
Rolling out of Whatley Manor and back behind the wheel of our Cooper S, we decided to go on a little drive and explore Malmesbury, a delightful little Cotswold market town close to the River Avon. Malmesbury is everything you could possibly want from a quaint, market town in the Cotswolds. It has beautiful ‘ye olde’ buildings and a beautiful Abbey that dates back to 675AD!
As you can see it was a really beautiful day. I truly believe there’s nowhere better than the UK when it’s warm and sunny. It just goes to show you don’t need to travel by plane for hours to explore somewhere new. We have so much on offer right here on our doorsteps!
Unfortunately even with a Bank Holiday, the weekend felt too short and it was time for us to return back home and I also had to say my goodbyes to the most beautiful little car I’ve ever driven.
The Mini Adventure may have been Mini by name, but it was certainly BIG by nature.
For those of you who’ve been asking! My case is by Lipault – it’s perfect for a weekend away and is carry-on bag size for airplanes too.
Come and join the adventure…
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