Sam & Jaks The Upton Firehouse

Feeling the need for spoiling on a rainy Saturday, a group of us visited The Upton Firehouse for an all you can eat lunch, and a good catch up with my lovely friend and incredible chef Sam Edwards. (Pictured right of photo).

Hailed the new Jamie Oliver, Sam Edwards flair in the kitchen is the Cotswolds worst kept secret, and he’s just too good not to share with you. Foodies rave and travel miles, we on the other hand have the luxury of a mere 20 min drive.

Sams skills were finely honed as Head Chef at the Bib Gourmand winning (4 years in a row) Made by Bobs, Sam opened The Firehouse earlier this year to wonderful reviews. You won’t find any advertising, it’s not needed, Sam’s reputation alone fills The Firehouse tables. Jak was Sams sous chef, and they have worked together for 9 years. Now as head of front of house, you are sure to receive the most welcoming of greetings at The Firehouse with Jaks infectious smile.

Opening hours are limited to Wednesday evenings for the tastiest hand spun wood fired pizzas, and Friday Saturday and Sunday BBQ buffet lunches. Sunday’s include the essential Yorkshire puddings of course, and beautiful melt in the mouth Dauphinoise potatoes. Do check their website for occasional special event evenings.

With a chef of Sam’s calibre, you know you are in for a real treat. A large selection of top notch BBQ meats and fish, exuberantly colourful salads and the most delicious homemade ciabatta tempt you at this wonderful all you can eat buffet. When you head to the buffet, close your eyes and take in the aromas, it will send your tastebuds into overdrive.

My husband, the eternal carnivore, managed 3 full plates, I managed 1 with a second helping of Sam’s unbelievably good ciabatta. With change from £20 an adult, it’s certainly a no brainer to the point you feel you should be paying more. (The menu changes regularly and seasonally).

Let’s talk about the venue and the ambience. The Firehouse is in a newly built, warm and dry enormous barn. Think Covent Garden chic with cozy rugs over bench seating. It’s huge but feels almost bijoux in its large scale intimacy, mix in fresh flowers and fairy lights, and it’s just magical in appearance. If uprooted from the Cotswolds and transplanted in one of London’s finest areas you would struggle to ever get a table. It’s sophisticated in its simplicity, it’s cool, it’s dope, it’s rad, it’s whatever your buzzword is and more, far far more.

Sam & Jak have nailed the marriage between exquisite food and the perfect venue, at a great price. You feel at home, and you certainly never feel rushed. It’s a wear what you want venue, you can relax and just enjoy the whole dining experience and very chilled atmosphere. A good drinks menu and happy but non invasive staff really make The Firehouse a very ‘go to’ place.

You may want to take a very long walk after to work it off, or in our case, we went home, lit the fire, opened a bottle of wine, and didn’t move from the sofa for the rest of the day, and no evening meal was required. All photos are my own, and taken towards the end of lunch.. I needed the exercise..

Sam & Jak also cater to outside venues. To find out more, or to book a table, whizz on over to their website:

https://theuptonfirehouse.com/

Enjoy working out? Check out a Gym Day Pass

We might be snuggled in the heart of the glorious Cotswold countryside, but you can still find an endorphin fuelled gym day close by.

Snap fitness in Cirencester, a 2 story brand new state of the art gym, offer a full day pass for just £10.

https://www.snapfitness.com/uk/gyms/cirencester/

There is free parking onsite for 16 cars, also a large public car park opposite, which after 3pm becomes free. The number 51 bus stops right outside, so from the Manor it’s practically door to door.

Classes are in abundance, from Core, Spin, Yoga, Pilates, Circuits, Hiit, Boxercise, Kettlebells etc, offering something for everyone, even an old has been like me. Clear instruction, with options for all abilities, so no excuses!

Yes it’s my personal gym of choice. It’s local, it’s high tech, it has everything I need from free weights, classes, equipment, and facilities, they even have a pair of GHD’s so we want for nothing. The staff are great, really great. Highly knowledgeable and happy to assist all, which is fab as usually I’m doing something not quite right. You can also organise, in advance, for a one to one, or with a friend, a personal PT session with an instructor, for an additional charge. I do recommend this, they have certainly kicked me into touch.

If you would like a group or corporate fitness day at the Manor, that can also be arranged. You have the venue, and we can tweek most things to suit your needs. It’s your stay, it’s your memories, and we are here to help make it happen, do feel free to email me.

If you’re an early bird, then nip into ‘Made By Bobs’ in the Cornhall by the Kings Head Hotel for breakfast or lunch after your workout. Chef Bob Parkinson holds the esteemed Mitchelin Guides Bib Gourmand for Cirencester, yummy, and just 3 mins walk from the gym. Ask the lovely gym staff for directions, they are always happy to help.

http://foodmadebybob.com/

History

The Manor, which takes its name from the coomb on the north boundary of the parish, was the site of a manor belonging to Bruern Abbey in the Middle Ages. The manor was sometimes referred to as a grange and probably never had a village or hamlet attached to it, though a house or houses recorded at Shawswell on the high ground to the east in 1676 were said to have once been part of the manor. Shawswell Farm at the latter site, though remodelled in the 19th century, may incorporate a 17th-century house. On the other side of the Shawswell valley two farm-houses, Greenmeadow and Rendcomb Buildings, were established in the 19th century on former open-field land and a new house called Chittlegrove was built c. 1928 to the designs of V. A. Lawson.
Land in the north part of the parish was given to Bruern Abbey (Oxon.) by William de la Mare c. 1180 and by other members of his family at other times; it was added to adjoining land in Chedworth given to the abbey by Roger, earl of Warwick (d. 1153), to form the manor, based on a farmstead on the boundary between the two parishes. The abbey had a grant of free warren in the manor in 1366. In 1537 the Crown granted The Manor, then held at farm by John Meysey, to John Berkeley (d. 1545) who settled it on his wife Isabel who survived him. She was succeeded by their son Richard, later Sir Richard, who acquired Rendcomb manor. On Sir Richard’s death in 1604 it passed to his son Henry (d. 1608) who was succeeded by his son Richard. By the conveyance of 1635 it was to pass to the Guises on the deaths of Giles Hyett and his wife Edith, lessees under the Berkeleys. It then descended as a farm on the Rendcomb estate until the break-up of the estate when The Manor became a separate freehold, owned in 1927 by Mrs. M. M. Fitzgerald and in 1978 by Mr. R. H. N. Worsley.
The manor-house was recorded in the 1530s and the house still contains two 16th-century roofs (though only one is in situ) as well as other features of the 16th and 17th centuries. It was evidently much altered, however, in the 18th or early 19th century, and before the extensive alterations and enlargements that were carried out in the early 1920s it apparently comprised two distinct structural blocks which abutted on one another but had no common axis. The remodelling of the 1920s was in 17th-century Cotswold style including careful reproductions in both stone and timber. At the same time a separate building was put up on the north side to house a library.

Corporate Stays

Our Corporate guests have the best of both worlds at the Manor. A good work/life balance as we know, is as important as air to breathe and water to live, and we have that tenfold.

There are so many options and choices available to fulfil each and every one of your needs. Each stay can be tailor made to suit any requirement you might have.

A warm welcome always awaits you at The Manor, and our superb chef can arrange either a drop off dinner, or cater for a full sit down 4 course meal, so you can relax, unwind, and prepare for whatever plans await.

Sink into our sumptuous beds, well known by our guests to be the most comfortable ever. We can arrange the 10 bedrooms to be of any combination from super king to twins. Soft fine linen covers our luxury pillows and quilts, to give the best nights sleep, rest the mind, body, soul, and to set you up for the next day’s events.

Breakfast can be a drop off, or on site catered, healthy or full English, it’s all on our caterers remit. Or, of course, you are welcome to arrange a supermarket delivery and self cater.

For an informal, more relaxed meeting, our tripod flip board, projector and screen, can be taken into the drawing room. Alternatively the dining room makes the perfect space for note taking and lectures. The library can also be hired for this purpose.

The Manor is the perfect place to discover who you are and what you’re made of. If you choose activities to break up the day, we have, of course, our stunning grounds and swimming pool. We can also arrange anything from a tailor made team building boot camp, to flour bombing from a plane, clay shooting, even wing walking on a vintage 1940’s biplane that really pushes ones boundaries, and is a life liberating adrenaline rush of an experience. All available locally with advance booking, these are approximately an hours walking time, along public footpaths, in our picture perfect undulating Cotswold countryside.

Pause, unwind, take a step back and view the world from a new perspective. Enjoy sharing the cooking, or being fully catered for, 3 meals a day, with fresh locally sourced foods. The Manor can be as formal or as informal as you choose, it’s the perfect battery recharge to work with a clear mind.

Our Corporate guests expect the privacy to find the best in their co workers, develop new strengths, brain storm in an environment you can breathe, and let the creative thoughts flow. There is no finer venue to achieve this than at The Manor, your own little slice of Cotswold heaven.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions, we are here to help make your stay a very memorable and productive one.

For those special added extras..

Even though the Manor itself is just perfect for all occasions, I am always asked do I know someone who does... Here is a taster of people I work with, know, and wholeheartedly trust. They are the best at what they do, so, like all good things, they come to those who wait, so please book well in advance as they are always in demand.

Photo booth http://www.quicksnapbooths.co.uk/Based in Cirencester, they provide everything from a digital package from £250, standard from £390, and premium from £450. Such a hoot! Very popular with our guests indeed!

Hair and make up http://www.annawhite.co.uk/ Located 3 miles away is the amazing Anna White. Transforming goddesses for 15 years. Weddings, film, TV, Studio, and for our guests. We count ourselves very lucky to have her, incredibly talented.

Photographer Glenn Stanley http://www.yourdigitalmemories.co.uk/main-page.html A giant beaming bear of a man, everyone is instantly at ease, and he captures some of the finest ever memories for our guests. Busy busy man, do book early.

Close up magician http://www.arcmagic.co.uk/Cirencester based Alex is just mind blowing, we kept saying how does he do that’ over and over again! An unforgettably magic time guaranteed!

Themed room transformations http://www.chinnicktheatreservices.com/There is nothing Clive can not transform. From massive music stages in gigantic aeroplane hangers covered in stars to a Gatsby themed room, big or small, he’s your man.

Boot camp & fitness training http://www.yourcommunity.co.uk/ Ollie and his team have been getting us in a sweat for a number of years now. Guests love the boot camps, they are fun and fitness for all, laughs aplenty, or as tough as you can stand. Drop him a line as he tailor makes to the individual.

Clay shooting https://www.mcphersonshooting.com/ Tizi is one of the best and most respected in his field. Tailor made to suit your needs, and just 3 miles from the Manor, perfect! Our guests cannot say enough about shooting with Tizi, the word awesome was on repeat!

Chocks away! http://www.aerosuperbatics.com/ Riding the wings of a vintage WW2 1940’s biplane is the most tranquil but altogether exhilarating and liberating experience ever, the ultimate adrenaline rush. Our guests have flown for fun, to raise money for charity, and corporate and team building days. (18+)

Horse riding http://www.talland.net/There is no finer place to go for a ride than at the Talland school of equitation. Beautiful all round experience in the glorious Cotswold countryside.

The manor is all about making the best of memories, please do not hesitate to contact me for anything else you might be looking for.

How to feel rather foolish..

Thankfully I can now sit back and laugh at my case of ‘mistaken identity’ this morning.

Something caught my eye under a floor vent. I flashed a torch then squealed like a banshee at the horror I had seen. As we are having the chimneys swept this changeover, my pitiful wail caught the attention of our wonderful chimney sweep who rushed to check I was ok. After hearing my hyperventilating garbled description of the beast that lurked below. He went to lift the drain cover, and I screamed once more thinking what if it’s still alive?

My heart was truly in my mouth, as he calmly turned to me after having a look, and said ‘it’s a hot water pipe’ and sauntered off with his usual casual air, wiggling his finger in the ear I happened to have screamed in. You can make your own mind up as to what this looks like.. a hairy snake it wasn’t thankfully!

Its a pretty grim day outside, though the red kites didn’t seem to mind as they made full use of the thermals and gave me a rather beautiful aerial display as I walked the grounds earlier.

Maintenance is constantly ongoing here, my husband refers to The Manor as a reflection of myself. I’m not anywhere near as high maintenance (I flash him a glare) I just strive for perfection in the place I love.

A few glorious pink roses still grace our walls before winter wraps us completely in its autumnal hues.

We are all ready for our next guests, so I will leave you with another little Manor secret to one day find.

Beautiful hidden secrets.

The manor is full of hidden delights, this heavy iron ‘kitchen’, the fire back new in 1923, is intriguing evidence of our forebears lives.  This particular fireplace is in the original part of the Manor, dating back to the doomsday book.


A real upstairs downstairs feel, and a taste of what life may have been like for the Manors occupants and their ‘in service’ staff.  One world war down, another one still to come…

The imposing galleried landing, complete with Bambi’s dad..  Hunting and shooting wasn’t just sport, it provided the household with much needed meat.  If you click on A little more history you will see aerial photos from 1928 showing the gardens laid to vegetable plots.


In 1937 the current garden design was planned.  These original plans are framed and on display.


Undoubtably my favourite room is bedroom 3.  It’s one of the oldest upstairs rooms, if not the oldest.  It would not look out of place in The Weasleys house from Harry Potter, or Narnia with its antique wardrobe, a pure delight.


Through a low doorway, and 2 steps down, you will find the ensuite to bedroom 3.  It was subject to major renovation almost 100 years ago, and still wears the luscious tiles of this era like a gown, just beautiful.


Look up in the gentleman’s wing, or bedroom 6 as we now refer to it, and you will see an original Art Deco ceiling, it’s timeless beauty lovingly maintained.


Forgotten through time, and unnoticed by our guests are the gun cabinets.  Housing quite an armoury in their day, they still grace the walls in our games room.


Fed from the hills, a small stream cuts its way through and under the land, and flows in part below the Manor, you can see the MM grill by the BBQ.


This in turn goes to a once natural pond, and overflows to the river Churn which then feeds the river Thames.


I will leave you to find the other hidden treasures in the Manor when you visit, undoubtably my favourite place on earth.

Here’s one to find from 1923..

Diary 6th November 2017

First frost, and my word is it a chilly one.  The air is crisp and fresh, the sky a beautiful azure.  Wrapped up warm, I went for a brisk walk, around the grounds.  Being a very boring perfectionist, everything needs to be checked ready for our next guests, and that means outside as well as in.

 

We are very lucky to have a team of amazing gardeners who keep this huge estate in tip top condition.  Regular maintenance is essential, for the gardens to remain so enchanting.


Autumn is truly here.  The russets and coppery hues on the trees and foliage, the bowing heads of the perrenials, announcing its time to sleep off the winter until springs resurrection.  Today feels almost like Christmas, our trees are ordered, is Santa hiding in our playhouse?  


My team are working hard on the changeover.  Every booking is different, the  4 cots and a zed bed are put away, twins are becoming superkings, fresh linen and towels are being distributed for each room ready to make up.  Bathrooms are being scrubbed and cleaned, vacuum cleaners drone, and the wonderful smell of ‘clean’ and polish fills the air.

My ‘SWOT’ team arrive en mass, they have 4 hours and a lot of house to cover.  They know this place better than they know their own homes I am sure.  I take extreme pride in my work, this in turn rubs off on everyone else.  My room checks are simple, they know our standards are high and they happily work to this remit.  They are the first to tell me if something is missing, or something has been left behind, and a joy to work with.  I just need to remember to dodge the missiles of bagged dirty linen being launched over the galleried hall!


Short and sweet I’m afraid as I must get on, the clock is ticking…

A Peaky Blinder of a place


We have lots of fabulous places to visit in the Cotswolds, but if you’re looking for something to do on your travelling day, then this marvellous place is an hour away, less if traffic is kind.

I’m a few days later in writing this, there seems not enough hours in the day recently.  It was my birthday on the 1st, I could have chosen to be spoilt at a spa, but I really wanted to go back here, eat the best fish and chips ever, drink a pint of Amber, ‘leg’ through a tunnel, and buy an 8 piece cap, and I did it all, birthday mission completed.

If you’ve ever watched ‘Peaky Blinders’, you will undoubtably recognise a lot of places if you visit The Black Country Living Museum just outside Birmingham.  They say ‘ahh’ a lot, and call fizzy drinks ‘pop’, it is charm itself.  

It is a walk back in time of the most wonderful kind.  The shops have shopkeepers, the houses have a ‘member of the family’, all dressed up in period clothes, there is a stern school teacher, and they are all keen as mustard to tell you the history.

The essential lunch stop for us is Hobbs.  Cracking cod and chips, cooked traditionally in beef dripping, sounds wrong but tastes oh so right, and a pickled egg (well it was my birthday after all).  Eaten off our laps on the bench seats next door, simply perfect!

I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was!

Next stop after a short walk is a pint of Amber with the outrageously funny barmaid.  Please don’t think about asking for a coke or a pint of lager, you’ll get short shrift and be told it hasn’t been invented yet!

Down a nearby alley you will find the canal trust boat trips, well worth the £6.95 indeed, and if you’re quick off the mark at putting your hand up, you can have a go at legging it through the tunnel, and it’s not easy, not easy at all..  Due to wearing a dress, I will not be uploading a ‘legging’ photo, so here’s a much more dignified one.

We went on a week day which was perfect. If you’re smart, you can easily dodge the school groups, and you have the place almost to yourselves.  Though I must say the primary groups looked utterly divine all dressed in period outfits, thankfully none of them with razor blades in their peaks!

I’ll sign off with a photo of my own personal Peaky Blinder who spoilt me rotten as usual, he knows I’m worth it!

The Black Country Living Museum is on winter hours now so closed Monday and Tuesday.  Here is their link: http://www.bclm.co.uk/ 

Wines without whines:


Over the next few blogs I’d very much like to introduce you to the splendid ‘outside team’ I have the pleasure of working with.  I work closely with them all, like a conductor of a vast orchestra.  For quality, service, reliability, and price, they are pretty much unbeatable.  Guest feedback is always 100%, and that’s what we aim for, always.  The only memories I wish our guests to leave with are amazing ones.  When my outside team play their large or small part in the making of those memories, they always strive to deliver nothing short of perfection. #TeamManor #HappyGuestsHappyMe #SmallCogsBigWheel 


Today I just happened to be here, so Tom gets first dibs. 


I was asked to locate a particular wine for a guest, my first stop, as always, is Tom I’Anson.  His knowledge is legendary, and he’s just charming to deal with.  To date I’ve thankfully never had cause to find a second supplier.  So impressed was this particular guest at the price he upgraded his order to a full selection, and I’m now collecting a (prepaid) smorgasbord of delights on their behalf.  It’s a good job Tom is just a mile away, as I tend to come here rather frequently for guests.  It’s a must for wine buffs, with wines and champagnes to suit all purses, which is super, as I am just the local peasantry.  I have blamed Tom for the odd hangover, but to be fair, 2 glasses of anything and I’m a goner. #WineWimp #StickingToLadyGrey #BubblesOnlyOnSpecialOccasions


This is today’s collection from Tom (pictured), for my guests to celebrate a 50th birthday in style.  With Lucy catering, I know they will just have the best of nights.  #SuperGuests served with outstanding #CotswoldCountryCuisine and some #JollyFineWines 
Tastings are available by appointment, let someone else drive, seriously! #JustTooGood #WineHeaven

Tom can source most wines, champagnes, and Ports.  If you see something you like in the UK’s most ‘well known high street wine merchant’, nine times out of ten he can source the same for less.   #WineLegend

http://www.tomiansonwines.co.uk/