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Amazingly The Headmaster’s Retreat, our base for the next few days is only just over an hour from home, and yet feels worlds apart. After trying not to get worked up by an aggressive lorry driver on the M50 who didn’t seem to want to comply with the 40 mph roadworks zone, we stopped off at Skenfrith Castle for a picnic lunch and a 4.5 mile stroll up to Garway and back. The walk was beautiful and yet we didn’t see another walker despite it being the Easter holidays, so we’ll definitely be coming back over this way. The castle is majestic and atmospheric, and better still free of charge! Hopefully we’ll get to see the other two castles which make up the Three Castles Walk whilst we’re here.

The cottage is attached to The Old School House and has what I would describe as some of the best views in Wales. The snow covered Brecon Beacons look magnificent, as does the Graig Mountain which rises up behind the house. The owners live in the top part of the Old School House which is attached to the retreat, but they leave guests to their own devices and privacy is guaranteed. Our welcome pack contained not only eggs, milk and jams, but gluten free bara brith and welsh cakes – a very pleasant surprise. Alas the welsh cakes didn’t last the evening as they were so delicious, and very unexpected. Definitely a first time for me so I’ll have to suggest that they market them – I’d certainly buy them! We feel very civilized sitting down to high tea in the elegant dining room.

As for the bathroom – well I now want an armchair in ours. The ceilings in all of the upstairs rooms are very, very high, the bath is deep, and the views of the mountain breathtaking. I’ve been saving my bath salts for this trip, and Rich is banned from using them, despite his threats. The living room has two double sofas, a big tv and wifi; and a smaller seating area off the kitchen looks onto a little courtyard. The two bedrooms both have king sized beds with lovely firm mattresses, there are plenty of books and games to keep children and adults of all ages entertained, and the kitchen is extremely well equipped – more so than ours back home in fact. Cathy used to trade in antiques and so the decor throughout the cottage is quirky and intriguing. It’s a perfect escape and I’d seriously consider coming here to ‘free range’ if ever I feed need to escape the home office.

By the time we’ve had one of Rich’s fabulous bolognese dinners, complete with gluten free chili bread and rice, we’re both starting to wind down from what’s been a tough few months. It’s a very cold night and even with the heating on full blast we’re having to wear thermals, but that’s to be expected when there’s still a lot of snow on the ground. We’re not complaining. We’re here now and wouldn’t mind if we get snowed in. Wouldn’t mind at all.

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