The long drive east

After a morning that consisted of taking the dogs to Sue, shopping for lunch, planting some mid-winter fire dogwood and eating lunch, we packed and headed off for Mirinda’s Mystery Birthday Break.

Just over an hour later we arrived at Oakenden Manor, a combined hotel, spa and restaurant which has the added attraction of being Family Unfriendly.

No kids beyond these gates!

No kids beyond these gates!

We parked Sidney and I went in search of our room. Having been guided by James, I then went and collected both Mirinda and our luggage. We climbed the single flight of stairs to Luke – the rooms have names rather than numbers. I opened the door to let Mirinda in.

This is always the critical point. This is what I’d been dreading. And, I can happily report, she loved it. A lovely big room with lots of hand painted furniture and double aspect windows overlooking the garden. It was perfect.

"I approve!"

“I approve!”

Having settled into the room, we decided to go downstairs for a cup of tea on the terrace followed by a walk around the small garden in front of it. We then wandered down to the spa so Mirinda could decide whether to enjoy the pool facilities at some stage. We then wandered into Cuckfield.

Oakenden Manor sits on the edge of Cuckfield, a large village in West Sussex with a very busy High Street given it connects one big town with another and Cuckfield just happens to be between the two. The net effect of that is the wait you have to endure before you can walk across the road. Unless you’re with Mirinda who just walked out in front of the traffic, figuring it would stop. Though it did, it wasn’t very happy.

The reason we crossed the road was to visit the church and extremely neat and ordered graveyard. No wildflowers or errant plastic pots, no blade of grass out of place or dead plants. This was a graveyard with aspirations. It’s probably won prizes for being incredibly neat and tidy. While fascinating (and big) it wasn’t particularly enticing though we did wander all around it.

The two most memorable things were the yew buns and the noteworthy decorated memorials.

Floral tribute

Floral tribute for Charles Francis Scott

The church (Holy Trinity) is well known for its rare painted ceiling (Victorian) and stained glass by Charles Eamer Kempe (1838-1907). Kempe was born just down the road and while he may have designed and installed windows all over the world (72 in Australia for a start) it’s nice to see a few of his here in Cuckfield.

Above the altar

Above the altar

We then wandered back to the hotel for a short rest before dinner in the Michelin starred restaurant.

Dinner was delicious (duck & cod for Mirinda and scallops & wood pigeon for me) with a very attentive staff hovering around us like bees. For dessert, Mirinda’s apple based meal came on a big white plate with Happy Birthday written around the outside in chocolate. I have no idea how they knew. Mirinda reckons I must have told them but I don’t remember doing it.

My dessert was creme brulee, whiskey ice cream and orange soufflé thing. The orange soufflé thing made me wince. The whiskey ice cream was delicious but could have done without the oats in the bottom of the bowl and the creme brulee is reviewed on my Scoring Creme Brulee page.

All in all, a lovely day and a rather good choice by me for accommodation. Phew!

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4 Responses to The long drive east

  1. Mirinda says:

    Utterly charming – a perfect place for a weekend break

  2. Mirinda says:

    And obviously you must’ve told them…

  3. Dawn says:

    Happy Birthday, Mirinda! Funnily enough, I was born in Cuckfield (don’t think there’s a blue plaque though).

  4. Mum says:

    That looked like my card Mirinda was holding I enjoyed the bit of texing we did on her birthday, so glad she loved your room, you did say something to them well you told me when you booked but I cant remember the words you said.
    love mum xx

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