WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM
Arriving at Harp Cottage - a 17th century stone cottage set in the peaceful village of Old Radnor, on the Welsh border - was an absolute treat, you can just feel the tension leaving and your body relaxing the minute you step over the threshold. Restored in a sympathetic manner this delightful cottage manages to offer both modern comforts coupled with traditional features. It is also a great base to explore the local market towns and rolling countryside, the perfect escape from the city. With traditional stone floors and harmonious furnishings the cottage is decorated in exactly the way you would want it to be, with cosy British made Bronte by Moon blankets perfect for curling up by the fire including adorable instructions left for the guests such as how to light a fire. Reclaimed items from France and old French floorboards used as decorative pieces, inside the house there is also a curated cupboard with a mix of pottery gems from Beanpole and original French pottery, blankets and wonderful tea towels - just leave the money in the honesty box. With the most extraordinary views, hills and dales, there is a peaceful calm that permeates throughout this delightful cottage, a roaring fire, stone and slate floors, a bottle of wine - this is a place to truly get away from it all and with the charming The Harp inn as your neighbour, popping in for a drink and staying for dinner is a given.
After exploring our surroundings a long lingering bath was in order at the end of the day, with the best shower curtain made from vintage French sacking, nothing says time for bed better than crisp linen sheets and I slept like a baby, perhaps it was all that country air or the long journey to the cottage or just the comfiness of the bed. I was awoken the next morning by the smell of the wood burning fire, coupled with burnt toast and bacon lingering in the crisp morning air. Just delightful.
After breakfast it was time to first explore Presteigne which is six miles away and is famous for its festival of arts and music. The river Lugg just below the medieval church interestingly enough marks the border with England. After a quick peruse of Deli Tinto on the high street which specialises in fine foods both from Spain and Wales as well as the Salty Dog which is an outstanding fishmonger and greengrocer. We then headed off to the pub for lunch, you really are spoiled for choice here, but we chose The Tram Inn in Eardisley as it had been recommended to us and it did not disappoint - this place is great for traditional hearty pub food such as fish, chips and mushy peas, Herefordshire steak, mushroom and ale pie and also 28 day aged sirloin steak from Johnny Morris with peppercorn sauce and onion rings to die for, the Hobson ale was also note perfect as was Hatterrall Hill water from the Brecon Beacons for those of us that were driving. All in all a perfect pub lunch.
Next up we headed off to Hay-On-Wye, which is famous for its book shops and literary heritage, set on the edge of the Brecon Beacons it is not hard to see why this area has been named as an area of outstanding beauty. A stop at Shepherds ice cream shop seemed appropriate as we had skipped pudding at the pub especially to save room for their ice cream. We spent several hours just wandering the streets of this town, hanging out in the many book shops, dreaming of hanging out in Beer Revolution drinking stouts or porters, however with the girls in tow this plan was put on hold, therefore it was coffee at The Globe at Hay - which is an off grid gourmet institute of art and ideas, think / talk / dance / play - followed by a browse around The Old Electric Shop with their curated selections of Hungarian linen, locally knitted wool jumpers thick enough to keep out any chill, antiques, magazines, scented candles and the like. Naturally, we also stopped off at Hay Deli for some local Haford and Caerphilly cheese for supper.
Once back at the cottage, we did of course pop in to The Harp - the local pub in Old Radnor with marvellous views within stumbling distance from the cottage - and settled on Hobsons ruby porter and some Black Fox cider from Dunkertons Cider Mill. From early times in the rural communities, stories have been told about the black fox, so sly is this creature that he has evaded capture, a fox as black as the night that lives in mans shadow and so is never to be seen, he especially enjoys hanging out in the cider orchards, hence the name of this refreshing and tangy beverage. With its stone floor, roaring fire and delightful banter between the landlord and his locals, where everyone is made to feel welcome, the dogs snoozing by their owners feet, this is of course the perfect pub to have next door to your weekend cottage. With so much to see and do our perfect weekend away was over so quickly and yet we had done so much. We drove away from Harp Cottage feeling happier and more relaxed - wondering when we would be able to return again.