One of the great surprises of starting my blog was the friends I would make along the way. Back when Emma was just a little dot, I started writing my blog as I felt isolated as a new mum. It wasn’t long until I met other mums, some of which started they blogs for the same reason and we’d end up chatting almost every day. However, as we all live in different parts of the country, it’s quite rare that we get to meet up. There are a few blogging conference but these are inevitably quite busy that it’s hard to catch up with friends properly! So when Donna organised a special bloggers’ retreat with 9 other bloggers, I was so excited to have a couple of days away from the usual routine.
We were all invited along to the beautiful Riverside Cottage, just off the A303 towards Andover. As I came off the A-road, I could hardly believe that you’re instantly in a leafy, idyllic location and feel a million miles away from our usual busy life. Driving down a winding road, we came to the cottage where we would be staying for the following two nights. The cottage was surrounded by plenty of green space with the Riverside Yurt Cafe as you enter. We each had a cup of tea and a very delicious scone, while we chatted and caught up a little. We then took a walk around the grounds, to see the beekeeper collecting honey and the vineyards too. Next door to the cottage, there is the Riverside Lodge which sleeps 4 people and is usually rented alongside the cottage. It looked perfect for additional guests to your party and is home to the swimming pool. As the sun was shining, we all had a dip in the pool and it easily fit the 10 of us.
The cottage and bedrooms were so full of character and I was impressed with the kitchen and conservatory area. It was spacious for a few of us to have a chat while we prepared food. There was also a warm Aga to keep the kitchen area nice and toasty during the winter months. We spent quite a bit of time here catching up and keeping up with work as well, so it worked perfectly that we could all fit around the long dining table.
After settling into our rooms, we went for a riverside walk together before having dinner. This was prepared by Little Kitchen Company at the cost of £40 per head. It was quite a treat to have the option of a meal cooked for you and we enjoyed a salmon roulade starter, followed by chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce and an Eton Mess for dessert. I liked that there is the option to self-cater too, as this often works better for our family with Emma in tow. It makes meal-times less stressful and takes the pressure off us having to entertain her at the table while we wait for the food. After the meal, we were lucky enough to have a few cocktails with thanks to 31 Dover.com. I went for a gin and lime tonic in a particularly lovely glass, perfect!
The following day, a few of us were up bright and early for a yoga session with Shelley Edwards from Progress to Success in the yurt. Although I woke up to feeling full of hay fever and with weary eyes, I loved the Shelley’s energy. The yoga session was £10 each and a brilliant start to the day. Shortly afterwards I had a beautiful massage from Holistic Hens, which I had been looking forward to. I went for a 40 minute back, neck and shoulder massage at £40 and really felt rejuvenated afterwards.
During our time at Riverside Cottage, we also attended a fantastic floristry workshop with Judith Searles. On that second afternoon, the rain was pouring so we all took shelter in the yurt. We arrived to be greeting by a delicious cream tea and then got started with the workshop. Having never done anything like it before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. We each made a wreath using a bouquet of flowers provided and I brought mine home to give to my mum as a thank you for looking after Emma while I was away.
Our bloggers’ retreat was such a lovely few days. It was fantastic to have a break (two night’s sleep!) but also brilliant to meet other bloggers and come away feeling so inspired about my blog. It was also the first time Emma had been away from Mummy and Daddy, and to return to my parents house with news that it all went so well – that was the cherry on top. Riverside Lifestyle is the perfect place for a group of 14 to meet up; I immediately thought of family reunions we have with family members coming from far to see us.
Huge thank you to What The Redhead Said, Le Coin De Mel, Mummy and Boo, Five Little Doves, Dear Bear and Beany, Mudpie Fridays, The Littlest Darlings, Scrapbook Blog and Keep Up With The Jones Family for making it so memorable! Have a look at their blogs for more about the bloggers’ retreat and huge thanks to Lauren for organising our fantastic goodie bags.
Disclaimer: our accommodation was provided free of charge but we paid for the extras ourselves. All opinions are my own.