Told you I'd return and here I am.
It's hard to believe a whole year has
really gone by as Hope Cottage and
England are nearly always on my mind.
I've enjoyed every single second. Once
again your sumptuous meals, your tour
leader expertise, your cheery disposition,
your hospitality leave nothing more to
be desired. You offer it all right here in your little slice of heaven - Hope Cottage, thanks for sharing - till next year. Donna. Massachusetts, USA
My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful week in England. We stayed at Hope Cottage. Sue Robson is the proprietor and tour guide. It's about an hour from London in Oxfordshire. The area is just lovely--take your breath away lovely, the stuff of picture postcards. If you are looking for a place to stay in an enchanted village away from the madding crowds, then this is the place for you. Not only is Sue's home very comfortable, she knows the area quite well and can suggest outings and take you to the most marvelous spots. She really should write a book, RURAL ENGLAND FOR DUMMIES.
I'm a great fan of English murder mysteries and have always wanted to go to England, but I didn't have a clue about how to go about finding the kinds of things I wanted to see. Sue knew exactly what I wanted to see and do, even if I didn't. For example, we visited the quaint churchyard in Cholsey where Dame Agatha Christie is laid to rest. It's about 10 minutes from Sue's house. I'd never have known about that treasure had I been left to my own devices.
With Sue's guidance, we visited many stunningly beautiful little churches in the area -- even the one in Turville where "Victor of Dibley" was set. What a treat it was to actually lay eyes on Geraldine's own pulpit! I expected Jim and Frank to walk around the corner any minute. We actually got to attend Sunday morning service at St. James in Brightwell. It's an ancient church building that's oozing with charm from centuries past. There were about 15 of us at the service, and everyone made us feel right at home.
At Sue's invitation we participated in some real village activities, one of them being "St. Agatha's Summer Concert," a delightful presentation by the villagers with proceeds being directed toward feeding the hungry. Another village event was the"Silent Disco" to benefit bone cancer. Participants wore headphones and danced to music of their own selection on the neighborhood Cricket field. That was a hoot!
One evening we ate delicious meat pies at the village pub, The Red Lion, a very old building with an actual thatched roof. Here we were introduced to the delights of "sticky pudding." Other evenings we ate at Sue's house. She's one of those cooks who seems to pull great food right out of the air. After a full day of exploring, she'd come up with a perfectly delicious dinner. She also serves breakfast. Some mornings we decided to have cereal with fruit and homemade bread. Other mornings we were treated to sausage and eggs--a full English breakfast. Whatever you wanted for breakfast, Sue would fix that for you. All our food at Hope Cottage was delicious!
Didcot Parkway Railroad Station is just about 10 minutes away. One day Sue put us on the train to London. Another day we visited Oxford. Sue and her delightful husband, Bob, took us to Strafford Upon the Avon where we saw Anne Hathaway's Cottage and a fabulous production of "As You Like It" by the Royal Shakespearean Company. We loved seeing all the regulation tourist attractions in those cities, but it was the village life we loved the best.
I don't drink much. Sue asked me one evening if I'd like anything to drink. I told her I only drink the occasional Margarita. They had never heard of one. I explained what was in them. Without me even knowing about it, Bob rushed down to a neighboring town and bought the ingredients to make me one. Anyone who will go that far out of their way to make me a Margarita is all right!
Sue and Bob took such good care of us at the Hope Cottage. Even their grown children were sweet and welcoming to us. We felt like old friends who'd come to stay.
If you want to visit England and don't know a lot about the country, I'd certainly recommend Hope Cottage Tours to you. Sue also welcomes over night visitors on a Bed and Breakfast basis. Her rates are quite reasonable. She has various rooms in her house that she opens up to guests. The one we stayed in is on the other side of the conservatory. You can see Sue's lovely gardens from this room. She has what's called a "shepherd's hut" in her backyard. It's like the shepherds used to stay in out in the fields where they tended their flocks except that this one is modern with an en suite bath. It reminded me of a deluxe playhouse for little girls. Two different couples stayed in it on two different evenings while we were there, They both said it was quite
comfortable and that they intended to come back
the next time they were visiting in the area.
In short, Hope Cottage Tours provides a
wonderful introduction to England by a
knowledgeable host in a comfortable setting.
You'll love it!
Trudie and Glen, Texas, USA.
My sister and I stayed at Hope Cottage in Oxfordshire for three lovely days in June of 2007. We had just spent a week in Paris and several days in London and were very much looking forward to a few relaxing days in the “picturesque English countryside” away for the hustle and bustle of the city.
We couldn’t have found a more perfect place to stay than Hope Cottage. And, as seems to be the case with most of proprietor, Sue Robson’s guests, once we arrived, we really didn’t want to leave. I cannot speak highly enough of Sue and her hospitality. The lovely cottage radiates character. Sue and her husband have created a very comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for their guests.
I stayed in one of the upstairs bedrooms, which had all the comforts of home. It had an ensuite bathroom with shower, and the view to the fields beside the property was very tranquil. My sister stayed in a one bedroom with ensuite downstairs that was actually a separate cottage attached to the sunroom side of the house surrounded by flowers. We both loved our new home away from home.
We planned our outings with Sue based on what we were interested in seeing, and the time we had available. We thoroughly enjoyed each excursion, as well as the countryside drives between stops.
So, the accommodation is lovely, the sight seeing very pleasant and personable, not something you would ever be able to duplicate on a typical tourist tour, and to top it all off, Sue’s cooking is wonderful. We found each meal very enjoyable, made with fresh and varied local ingredients, and we especially raved over her lemon tart. I have nothing but praise for Sue’s cooking skills, and we even managed to get a copy of that lemon tart recipe before we left!
One other thing I wanted to be sure and mention was that on our last day we were supposed to travel back to London to catch a train to Edinburgh. But there were reports of a lot of flooding in the lowlands where these trains would be travelling, and there was a good chance our train would not be there to take us on the next leg of our journey once we arrived back in London. So Sue suggested we look into the trains departing from Oxford instead. We took her advice and rebooked with an Oxford departure, and Sue was kind enough to drive us to the train station there to see us off.
Everything worked out
perfectly thanks to her.
I really can’t say enough
about how much we enjoyed
our stay at Hope Cottage.
It was one of the highlights of
our trip and one of the special
places I’ve regularly thought
about returning to, the next time I plan a vacation over to the UK. I strongly recommend a stay at Hope Cottage to anyone looking to submerse themselves in a bit of English country living. Trust me, you won’t want to leave either.
We've just returned from another lovely time at Hope Cottage with Sue and Bob. We went to England last year and didn't get our stay out, so we came back this year. You can look further down in the reviews for my contributions from last year. They are all still true.
Hope Cottage is a very comfortable home in a lovely village setting in Oxfordshire, not far from London. We were there for five nights this time and would loved to have stayed longer. The village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell is very charming and relaxing, and Sue's house is a perfect match.
Sue drove us around to wonderful English places including Waddesdon Manor and Winchester Cathedral. One day, she went with us to London and helped us navigate the murderous subway system. We'd still be stuck somewhere down in the bowels of hell had it not been for her excellent guidance. No matter what happens, she remains calm with a lovely smile. Sue makes everything lots of fun.
Her accommodations are bright, clean, and lovely. The grounds are enchanting with a pond, lots of beautiful trees and flowers, and even a pair of mischievous ducks. They are so cute.
Sue and Bob are great cooks. We enjoyed delicious evening meals each night we were there and had a great, nutritious breakfast each morning served in a cheery, sunny dining room.
Sue and Bob and their grown children are really delightful. I think anyone would enjoy staying with them.
The bed and breakfast is so nice, but if
you want to do some touring, I'd highly
recommend that, too. You won't go
wrong if you elect to stay
at Hope Cottage.
Trudie and Glen, Texas, USA.
My mother, sister, and I spent nine days at the matchless Hope Cottage, with Sue and Bob as our endlessly helpful, kind, and effervescent hosts. We opted to have Sue tour us around (as opposed to choosing the B&B option) and are so glad we did. Traveling is almost always a stress, of course--figuring out what to do on what day, how to get there, how to pay, how to return, where to eat--but at the Hope Cottage, it was easy.
Each day, we woke up to chirping birds, and while not always to sunshine (this is England!), to a sunny Sue with a perfectly healthy, simple, and delicious--and as the week went on, increasingly tailored-to-us--breakfast, including yogurt, fruit, and eggs fresh from her hens, set up in the gorgeous solarium. After that, we'd head after to the day's sights--Highclere Castle, Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, and the village of Lacock were among my favorites--chatting along the way with Sue, taking in the bucolic scenery, without any worries about missing turns or negotiating left-side driving. Sue was eminently flexible and accommodating: if we wanted a little more time in a particular place, or to add an extra stop, it was no problem--nothing ever was. More than a pleasant tour guide, she became a friend, and we like a group of girls on vacation with Sue as our cheerful and very capable leader.
On the way home, a quick call to Bob was all it took to ensure that as soon as we stepped in the door, tea was set out and dinner nearly so. The food was sublime and varied: from lamb with eggplant sauce to lasagna to fish pie, the dishes were befitting of a top restaurant--and were also quite healthy and locally sourced (the lamb, for example, was from a farm in the village). Then it was on to dessert, which was always homemade, often fruit-based and light, and perfect. Finally, we'd sip tea while watching the sunset (which came at an wonderfully late 9 pm), chatting, and finalizing plans for the next day.
The setting itself really can't quite be captured in photos. I knew it would be pretty from the website, but it's more than I imagined--and beyond pictures. You can't see (or hear or smell) in the photos how relaxing and wonderful it is to be surrounded by garden and fields and birds on all sides. The house and the guests cottages are just lovely--I can't say there's a "best" place to stay; they're equally nice. The town center just down the lane (and walk-able from the house) is also so picturesque it almost seems a caricature of the perfect English village--except it's real, of course! Finally, it must be mentioned that the cottage's pet ducks--who can't come inside, though they'd very much like to--are the most adorable creatures you've ever seen: though different types of ducks, they're best friends, and do everything not only together, but in sync. I took about four separate videos of them. (And I'm not even an animal person as such.)
On this trip, I was reminded that there is no substitute for travel: photos, videos, tales don't do it--to expand
your mind and being, you must go and
see things for yourself. And yet
international travel especially is
sometimes so draining. Not with Sue
and Bob; not at the Hope Cottage.
The experience left all of us
fresh-faced and relaxed and edified--
and dreaming of our return.
We are deeply grateful.
Kylah. May 2014