On My Horizon English Countryside – The Newt in Somerset.

Most U.S. travelers lack a several hundred-year-old charming countryside manor for a weekend escape, the peripheries of London are teeming with choices, and we recommend staying at several for various reasons. The moment I met our rep for this palatial property, I knew I had to visit. Just the charming, oh so Very Very British name intrigued me. I’ve visited numerous U.K manor homes and adore all of them, oh to be two hours away from these glorious estates! One recent post, Meet the Shepherdess – who has a shepherdess to care for the lambs grown on property!?

My travel mantra – each of us has a unique fingerprint and thus the proper hotel or manor house may be suitable for one but not another. We solve the mystery.

Just a two-hour drive from London, and not far from the mythical Stonehenge, The Newt in Somerset is one of England’s most stunning luxury hotels. Named one of the World’s Best Hotels in 2023, it’s barely a 2.5-hour train ride from London. Full report coming soon after my Somerset Stopover!

The Newt in Somerset, is a magical 1,000-acre estate in a postcard perfect area of villages, nestled between the small market villages Bruton and Castle Cary in the English countryside. A working Georgian country farmland estate, perfectly manicured labyrinthine gardens, orchards, woodlands, and blooming grounds. The 42 spacious rooms are divided between Hadspen House, its outbuildings, and the Farmyard, a bike or buggy ride away. The heart is Hadspen House, a restored 17th-century honeyed limestone manor surrounded by luxurious lawns.

Inside the house, the ambience is elegant, yet homey and enormously comfortable, enjoy settling in graceful rooms and snug nooks with a cozy living room with a wood-burning fireplace. Stately portraits of the Hobhouse family who lived at Hadspen for over two centuries, gaze over the guests.  I’m looking forward to an evening tipple in the gilded cocktail bar.

The Newt offers enough activities to keep guests on property or off and amused for days. A heated pool is not the only buzz, sign up for honey tasting and explore the Beezantium, a building designed to portray the world from a bee’s perspective.

Be transported back to Roman Britannia; explore a reimagined Roman Villa with mosaics and pastel frescoes created next to unearthed Roman ruins, walk in the footsteps of our Roman ancestors in the reimagined Villa Ventorum.

The owners, South African billionaire, and tech magnate Koos Bekker and his wife Karen Roos are known for their sumptuous Babylonstoren in South Africa. Its gardens are sculpted on those of the Dutch East India Company with wine as the primary draw. Their UK goal was a country manor home with cider orchards. Babylonstoren is wine centric, The Newt is all about cider or as ‘cyder’ as it is locally described. Three hundred types of apple trees growing in the expansive orchards contribute to the cyder production.

The spa includes an inside outside heated pool, a hammam and a rasul mud chamber. A choice of Turkish and Moroccan hammam experiences promise Top to Toe Indulgences. My Hammam experience is reserved!

Nearby, if you must leave, consider these options: this pocket of Somerset possesses utterly praise worthy bona fides. The village of Bruton has an outpost of London based, well-known Hauser & Wirth art gallery surrounded by a Piet Oudolf-designed Garden, and a Farm Stop.  

Just down the lane, nestled in the countryside village of Batcombe, tuck in for lunch or supper at The Three Horseshoes, an AA Rosette Starred restaurant. A quaint 17th Century local Inn with country pub, excellent dining, and an Inn. Cookery from esteemed chef Margot Henderson, whose food celebrates craftsmanship & community. She and her husband Fergus are well known in the kitchens of British chefs.

Fine ales, and fresh, seasonal ingredients with modern British cuisines from their famous signature dishes to traditional favorites such as pies, steaks, gourmet burgers and roasts. Drawing from local ingredients and farms, using seasonal fruit and vegetables in support of their local farming community, most of their meat comes from Stafforshire farms. The Longhorn Beef comes from Will Pearson’s Dunwood Farm in Longsdon, just 5 miles away, and the lamb mainly from Tom Allen in Foxt, just under 10 miles away.

Did you know: Why pubs are called Three Horseshoes? The coat of arms of The Worshipful Company of Farriers, dating back to 1356, depicts three horseshoes illustrating their trade, and whenever a pub takes on the name of The Three Horseshoes it tells you that there used to be a blacksmith or farriers nearby; the name derives from the belief that when a horse lost its shoe, the horse’s rider would have no choice but to stop at the nearest coaching inn on their journey to re-shoe his horse and thus when they arrived, the horse wore only three shoes instead of four.

Full reviews and personal photos on my return.

2023 Art To See – London Always Out & About – David Hockney ‘Bigger and Closer’, (not smaller and further)

David Hockney ‘Bigger and Closer’, (not smaller and further) Lightroom Kings Cross, London February 22- June 4, 2023

The Lightroom is a new four-story exhibition space made for immersive art. The new home for spectacular artist led shows. We can privatize, of course!

Hockney will exhibit his life’s work broken up into six chapters with a voiceover from Hockney himself and an original score composed by Nico Muly. His paintings are thrown onto huge screens immersing the audience in his colorful worlds like never seen before. Hockney will use the innovative venue to take the audience on a personal journey through his art, featuring iconic paintings alongside some rarely seen pieces and some newly created work. His life-long fascination with the possibilities of new media is given vibrant expression in a show that invites visitors to see the world through his eyes.

Using large-scale projection in a remarkable new space, David Hockney takes us on a personal journey through sixty years of his art. Lightroom’s vast walls and revolutionary sound system enable us to experience the world through Hockney’s eyes. His life-long fascination with the possibilities of new media is given vibrant expression in a show that invites us to look more closely, more truly and more joyously.

In a cycle of six themed chapters and a commentary by the artist himself, Hockney reveals his process. His voice is in our ears as we watch him experimenting with perspective, using photography as a way of ‘drawing with a camera’, capturing the passing of time in his polaroid collages and the joy of spring on his iPad, and showing us why only paint can properly convey the hugeness of the Grand Canyon. We join him on his audio-visual Wagner Drive, roaring up into the San Gabriel Mountains, and into the opera house by means of animated re-creations of his stage designs.

From LA to Yorkshire, and up to the present day in Normandy, the show is an unprecedented opportunity to spend time in the presence of one of the great popular geniuses of the art world still innovating, still creating beauty and awe.

Located just an 8-minute walk from King’s Cross station, Lightroom joins the wonderful range of shops and restaurants of Coal Drops Yard to create the perfect day or night out.