Travel & Life Digest

Hartnett Holder & Co, Lime Wood, New Forest

Fellow over-worked, over-stressed and probably super-dehydrated Londoners & South-east suburbanistas, (what? you really thought all these bubbly potions at Polo in the Park & Elizabeth Street summer party wouldn't catch up with you?) have you ventured out to the New Forest wonderland yet?
Driving down the A31 or the A35 through the New Forest, isn't immediately as exciting as you would expect: you will probably spot some wild horses in the distance, but as these are higher speed roads the fields are fenced off.
If you turn off the "A" roads however, it's a whole different story;
drive through Brockenhurst, Beaulieu and the smaller villages and you are certain to see these wonderful wild creatures galloping by the car, grazing away or even having an itch and a roll around on the grass. I love horses, they are so majestic. 
We've even had them popping their heads through the car window to say hello, on several occasions! You are guaranteed to turn into a kid when that happens, what's better than that?
On our way back from Christchurch last Sunday, we really wanted to stop at The Pig, my all-time favourite spot, down around this part of the world. 
But since we left it for last minute, as always, they were booked out and we decided to give their sister hotel Lime Wood a go.

The fact that this hotel belongs to the same chain as the Pig and the Pig on the Beach was kind of a guarantee for a good, wholesome Sunday afternoon out.

On top of that, the restaurant Hartnett Holder & Co, has been curated by Angela Hartnett, the woman who braved Gordon Ramsey's colourful character-building insults for years, as his protégée; so it must be good, right?
The entrance to the estate is not as impressive as other manor houses around the area, it's more subtle, with an artistic feeling throughout, once you start spotting iron sculptures in the fields and all around the garden.
The hotel decor is in tune with the rest of the properties in this chain: very homely, with notes of bygone eras, but not at all stuffy. I loved the black and white tiled floors in the lobby, as I am currently trying to convince my husband to adopt this look in our new home, but he is not budging in.
The "Boot Room" was so colourful! Wellies of all patterns, colours and sizes, just help yourself and venture out in the fields!

As soon as we walked into the house, my husband spotted the games room and since we were half an hour early we thought, "let's have a game of pool".
What a great idea!
We felt that old-fashioned cocktails would be more suitable at the time, so Aperol Spritzers arrived pronto and we had this gorgeous panelled room to ourselves.
I was winning at the beginning, but as always I got too cocky and lost interest, so I lost miserably and had to pay for lunch in the end. Oh well, it was good while it lasted!

The restaurant is this earthy space, with colourful yellow and maroon leather chairs and sofas, green walls and wrap-around windows with views over the gardens.
Oh wait! "Is that a swing I spot hanging from that tree outside? Perfect!"
This is one of the reasons I loved the Pig in the first place. For the big swing in the garden, they have one here too, now I feel at home! 


We had the pork tonnato to start with, as I don't eat beef any more, vitello tonnato is one of the dishes I do miss, so I was very excited to see the porky-pork version of it on the menu.
I'll admit it wasn't what I expected, when it arrived, I was craving lots & lots of the tonnata sauce which in this case was only sparingly covering the pork; but the layer of crunchy fennel really brought the whole thing together. I'll try it at home!

Next up, roast for my husband, spinach & smoked salmon ravioli for me.
Pasta is Angela Hartnett's speciality apparently and although I knew I was going to be hungry afterwards, I ordered the ravioli. Question: why do they always give you so few pieces of them? No matter where you go, you just don't get enough ravioli, why? Anyway, it was nice, the filling and the asparagus cream could have been stronger in flavour.

And then you let the lovely panna cotta with cherry preserve take you back a couple of decades, served in a retro glass along with churros. What else do you need on a Sunday afternoon?
A great and light dessert. I went for the cheese board, there was a really nice goat's cheese there, but I forgot to ask the name.

You simply cannot leave this place without a wonder around the garden. There are parts that look pretty natural and others that are perfectly designed, with pools of water and lovely copper sculptures.

Make sure you discover the two big swings, hanging under these massive trees. No matter what Monday morning brings for you, at least you'll have this lazy Sunday afternoon to dream about...swaying away under the big trees, closing your eyes to avoid the last rays of sunshine. 

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