There is a huge amount that goes on behind the scenes in owning a holiday home that is let out. A hot topic of conversation amongst owners over the past year has been around updated fire safety legislation that came into place in October 2023.
New holiday let fire safety guidance came into place for holiday lets in England and Wales in October 2023. It is important when booking a holiday to make sure that the accommodation that you are booking has followed this guidance.
The first document that we have updated is our Fire Risk Assessment. This document:
The major area we had to address at Daisy Chain was our smoke / heat alarm provision. In line with the guidance, we now have hard wired, linked smoke alarms in all the bedrooms and all other rooms.
The hardest one to place was in the living area where the vaulted ceiling is about 8 metres high! Our electrician did a brilliant job.
Visiting a Christmas Light trail has become a firm family tradition for many and you are spoilt for choice in the Cotswolds. From an arboretum to a Castle, a farm to a Palace, colourful, sparkling trials will add a touch of magic to your Christmas. Don’t hang around – the trails are very popular with tickets selling like hot cakes!
At Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury, the elves have been tasked with decorating the trees for Christmas. The Winter Wonderland features disco balls, talking trees, cheeky elves and interactive displays for children. The trail takes 45 – 90 minutes to complete and there are refreshments available and a Christmas village with traditional fairground rides
Westonbirt’s trail runs from from 24 – 25 November, 1 – 2 December, 8 – 9 December, 15 – 17 December, 19 – 23 December between 4.00pm and 9.30pm. Entry: Adults £21, Children £14 Advanced booking essential with timed entry slots. More information here
The 15th Century Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe, provides a wonderful backdrop for its annual Spectacle of light. The trail, this year themed on The Wizard of Oz runs through the castle grounds. A light wave will light up the Mulberry Lawn, while in the Queen’s garden will be lit up with flickering fire flowers. Sparkling water features and Harlequin trees will delight. The trail takes between and hour and an hour and a half to walk around with refreshments on sale halfway round.
Entry £24 adults, £12 children. Advanced booking required. Runs from 24 – 26 November, 1 – 3 December, 7 – 10 December, 14 – 23 December, 27 – 30 December 2023 Each evening the Spectacle is a continuous experience with entry time slots from 4.45 pm onwards. More information here
Blenheim Palace’s magical Christmas light trail combines twinkling lights, seasonal sounds and festive fun with a glimpse of the main man himself, Father Christmas, along the way. There are plenty of photo opportunities with glowing tunnels and even an 8 metre sphere filled with over 20,000 moving lights! The dancing reflections in the colourful cascades are a sight to behold. The Palace itself will be themed around the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, whilst an enormous Christmas Tree will grace The Great Hall. There will also be a Christmas Market in the Great Court with a seasonal village made from wooden chalets selling everything from Christmas gifts to tasty treats.
The Blenheim Palace trail runs from 17 – 19 November, 22 – 26 November, 29th November – 1st January. Prices vary depending on how many attractions you visit. For more information here
The Cotswold Farm Park Enchanted Light Trail has light displays inspired by different animals and also features real animals to feed on the way in beautifully decorated barns. There are fire pits to toast marshmallows over and a café and gift shop. The trail takes from an hour to an hour and a half.
Runs from 24 – 26 November, 1 – 3 December, 8 – 10 December, 15 – 17 December, 20 – 23 December, 28 – 31 December 2023 with start times between 4pm and 7pm. Pre-booking is once again advised. Adults £21.95, children £16.50, toddlers £11.50. More information here
The Painswick Rococo Garden, a hidden gem in the Cotswolds, is opening by night for the first time this year. Willow sculptures of mythical creatures will be illuminated with sparkling lights. Glowing stars will light your way to explore the follies, sculptures, statues and winding paths of this unique garden. Seasonal treated and winter warmers of hot chocolate or mulled wine will also be available.
The Rococo Garden trail runs from 7 – 10 December, 14 – 17 December, 20 – 23 December, 27 – 30 December 2023 with start times between 4pm and 6pm. Adults £15, children £8. More information here
Daisy Chain on the Lower Mill Estate makes a perfect base for visiting Christmas light trails across the Cotswolds. When are you coming to visit?
There is plenty of choice when it comes to planning days out for the whole family during half term. The Lower Mill Estate makes a fabulous base for exploring the Cotswolds. From wildlife parks to classic cars, museums to adventurous activities there really is something for everyone. Have fun planning your half term!
Cotswold Farm Park reopens on February 10th in time for its lambing spectacular. Over 800 lambs are due to be born at the farm this Spring and visitors can see live births as well as listen to talks. It makes for a fabulous day out in the Cotswolds for the whole family.
Head across to Chedworth Roman Villa to see the remains of one of the grandest Roman villas in Britain. You’ll be able to see impressive mosaics, hypocaust systems and bath houses. The artefacts on display will give you a real insight into life at the villa during Roman times.
The Cotswolds has to be one of the best places to see snowdrops in the country. Painswick Rococo Garden has over 5 million snowdrops (yes….you read that right…5 million!) and Colesbourne Park boasts over 300 different cultivars. That really is taking being spoilt for choice to a whole new level!
Birdland Park and Gardens, based in the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, offers a great location for a family day out. Birdland is set in 9 acres of gardens and woodland and is home to more than 500 birds including a range of exotic and rare birds such as flamingos, pelicans, cranes, storks, parrots, owls and penguins.
Corinium Roman Museum is located in Cirencester, the ancient Roman town known as the capital of the Cotswolds. Just a 15 minute drive from the Lower Mill Estate, it takes you on a journey back through time as you discover thousands of artefacts on display from prehistoric tools, to Roman mosaics and medieval sculpture.
Another gem based in Bourton-on-the-Water is the Cotswold Motoring Museum. Through its collection of rare vehicles you will be taken on a journey through the history of 20th-century motoring and give you a glimpse of the way that motoring used to be.
Cotswold Falconry Centre is one of the leading bird of prey centres in the UK and home to over 60 species. During daily flying displays visitors will be wowed by a variety of species demonstrating their hunting skills and will come away with a greater appreciation of these amazing birds.
A little further afield lies Gloucester Cathedral which is a must visit for Harry Potter fans. The vaulted cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral became the corridors leading to Gryffindor House, part of Hogwarts School, during filming of the first two Harry Potter Movies. The Cathedral is one of the finest medieval buildings in the country
On the last bank holiday at the end of August, the usually peaceful River Windrush meandering it’s way through Bourton-on-the-Water is invaded by a football match. It is one of the wackier annual events to take place in the Cotswolds! Goalposts are set up in the river, and two teams of six players from Bourton Rovers football Club play a 30 minute match. The annual match has been taking place for over 100 years and attracts hundreds of spectators to the grassy banks of the river. The usually calm waters of the River Windrush become a huge splash zone with one of the aims of the players being to get the front row of spectators as wet as possible!
Just 10 minutes drive from the Lower Mill Estate, Jesse Smith, a family owned butcher that was founded over 200 years ago has recently opened a Farm Shop and Coffee House. Jesse Smith has a great local reputation for quality fresh meat and personal friendly service – they also have a traditional butchers shop in one of Cirencester’s oldest Streets, Black Jack Street.
The Farm Shop looks fabulous when you walk in, with fresh fruit and vegetables stacked high, glass fronted meat and cheese counters and shelves of deli products. Jesse Smith’s is an ideal place to call in to stock up for a barbecue, with a wide range of sausages, chicken, lamb and beef kebabs as well as a huge range of cuts of meat the only problem will be deciding what to choose.
Much of the meat stocked at Jesse Smith’s is locally sourced, with as much lamb as possible coming from the Cotswolds. The butcher also stock the traditional free range Gloucestershire old spot pork. Locally sourced game is also available.
The coffee house serves food throughout the day. As one reviewer on Trip Advisor wrote, “When you walk in the place is just gorgeous. The food is all fresh, local produce and tastes amazing. I could have stayed all day and eaten the whole menu.”
One of the lovely things about Daisy Chain is the abundance of birds to be seen. Herons, Egrets, Grebes, Terns, Swallows and Kingfishers to name just a few. But have you ever wondered what the Lower Mill Estate looks like to them? Some recent guests shared these great pictures taken from a drone.
Swooping over Somerford Lagoon, Clearwater Lake is straight ahead. To the left is Howells Mere with Swillbrook Lakes beyond. To the right beyond the green, the tennis court and the Mill Village pool is Spinney Lake, edged on the near side by the new houses with their green eco roofs.
Zooming down towards Daisy Chain you can see some people sitting on the grass enjoying the sunshine and pick out the barbecue on the lower deck – perhaps they’ll be wheeling that out in a minute to cook up some burgers and kebabs by the lakeside! That belt of reeds doesn’t just look great in the sunrise photos that guests take from their bedrooms, it’s also home to many birds – and sometimes a murmuration of starlings lands there during the winter. Just over to the left in the corner of the lake is the handy place for slipping the canoe into the water.
Here she is, as seen by the birds, slipping quietly across the calm waters of the lagoon. Where are they off to? Round the island before breakfast? Paddling to the reed beds to see how many different species of birds they can count? Heading across to the narrow strip of land where they can portage across and canoe on Flagham Fen to see if they can spot the beavers in the water just a few metres away from them? Or just enjoying the simple pleasure of being afloat, the freedom, the ripple of the water, being captain of your own boat, the satisfaction of learning to make the canoe go where you want with the ‘J stroke’ (turning the paddle at the end of the stroke to act as a rudder so you don’t have to keep switching the paddle from side to side). It’s just great being out on the water … I wonder if they can smell those burgers cooking yet?
We have just returned from Daisy Chain where we spent a weekend with family celebrating a big birthday. Daisy Chain is the perfect venue to gather all the family to celebrate and fun together.
Daisy Chain is equipped with a Canadian Canoe, but as there were going to be lots of us staying we rang ahead to the Family Adventure Store and arranged to rent a Paddle Board for the weekend. Jenny very kindly delivered it to Daisy Chain so that when we arrived it was all ready for us.
Some of the family arrived by car, but others arrived by train. Kemble Station, on the direct line from London Paddington Station, is only a 10 minute drive away so very convenient to get to. The birthday boy was dispatched to the station to give us time to decorate the house. We have bunting and a birthday banner at Daisy Chain so we quickly hung these up and blew up some balloons.
Soon we were all gathered, the children were tucked into bed and there was just enough time to walk round to the boat park to collect the Canadian Canoe. The boat park is only a 10 minute walk around the lake and we had a wonderful paddle back across the lake watching the sun set. It really was golden hour.
Saturday started early. When we are staying at Daisy Chain, if we wake early we can never resist drawing the curtains and watching the sun rise. It’s such a luxury to be able to lie in bed watching the sun climb over the horizon. Opening the patio doors, we enjoyed the full sound of the dawn chorus with a Cuckoo and Woodpecker also joining in.
The morning was beautifully blue and still, so as soon as the children appeared we donned buoyancy aids and headed out onto the lake in the canoe and on the paddle board. It’s always magical on the lake in the early morning – so calm and peaceful.
Having returned to Daisy Chain for breakfast the rest of the morning was spent messing about on the water. Days at Daisy Chain pass quickly with one activity flowing into the next. We painted ducks for the Duck Race down the River Thames, went swimming in the indoor, outdoor and eco pools (ok….we didn’t all make it into the eco pool!), played tennis and enjoyed walks around the Lower Mill Estate.
Birthday Cake, Cream Tea and Champagne disappeared quickly and we were soon off out again, in search of one of the geocaches that can be found locally. After such a busy day sleep came quickly to the children at bedtime.
The rest of the weekend followed a similar pattern. I managed to fit in a visit to Clattinger Farm, a wonderful wild flower meadow just 2 minutes drive from the Lower Mill Estate. It is home to Snakeshead Fritillaries and Orchids by their hundred. A real treat.
The children loved completing the Miss Mouse Trail which follows a route around the Lower Mill Estate. It is interspersed with treasure chests where there are pirate coins to collect and sweet treats to enjoy. The trail also now includes a bike trail which is a fun stopping off point.
We had fun taking part in the Lower Mill Estate Bank Holiday Duck Race later in the day. I was all ready to take photos of the proceedings, but hadn’t quite anticipated that I would end up whipping off my shoes and socks, jumping into the water and rescuing some of the Ducks who had escaped the barrier at the finishing line!
Staying at Daisy Chain makes for a really easy weekend with family. There is no need to leave the estate, with so many activities right on your doorstep. It’s a wonderful location for a family birthday celebration and is often booked for big birthdays – 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th and even 80th.
Our birthday boy certainly enjoyed his weekend of fun and family!
From the middle of April woodlands around the Cotswolds will burst into life with a fabulous blue haze of bluebells. The bluebell season is starting already with a faint mist of blue appearing under trees in many of our woodlands. I took this photo last weekend.
There are many locations within reach of Daisy Chain, but two of the best are Badbury Clump near Highworth and West Wood near Marlborough.
There was once an Iron Age Hill Fort at the top of Badbury Woods which was probably built and occupied from around 600BC. It would mainly have been used for storage and would have housed round huts and grain storage pounds. Much of the evidence of a fort has been lost through years of ploughing. In Spring and early Summer, Badbury Clump is very popular as its beech woods team up with bluebells for a spectacular display. A 6.5 mile circular walk starting at Badbury Hill, including the Great Barn at Great Coxwell can be found on the Faringdon website. Have a taste of the Bluebells at Badbury hill in this video.
West Woods in near Marlborough is a large plantation of beech trees on a site of an ancient woodland. West Woods has fantastic displays of bluebells in late spring and a good network of trails allow easy access. It is very popular with walkers and photographers alike.
The bluebell season is a short but spectacular one and there are so many beautiful woodlands to explore. Other woodlands to see bluebells in the Cotswolds include:
Aston-under-Hill Woods – which has been described as stunning with bluebells galore. Lineover Wood, Dowdeswell Lynches Wood (near Chipping Campden) Littleworth Wood, Snowshill Foxholes Nature Reserve, Bruern.
The annual Lake and Land Easter Egg Hunt at South Cerney Outdoor in Cotswold Water Park, just 5 minutes drive from Daisy Chain, takes place on Friday 25th March from 12pm – 4pm. This very popular Easter Egg hunt involves finding golden eggs hidden in tunnels and then powerboating out to Easter Island to discover more hiding in nests. The hunt is suitable for ages 3+ and tickets need to be booked in advance. Everyone loved it last year – it’s definitely one not to miss!
Batsford Arboretum have a slightly different take on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt. Instead of hunting for eggs you hunt for chickens. They have been hidden all around the arboretum. You simply mark their locations on a map to win a prize. The Chicken Hunt costs £2.50 (entrance into the Arboretum is on top of this). The Big Batsford Chicken Hunt will be running from Friday 25th March to Sunday 10th April, 10am – 5pm.
New for this year, Cotswold Farm Park have introduced the Great Chicken Challenge. Entrants will complete an obstacle course including making a nest, transporting giant eggs and bouncing to the finish line. The Great Chicken Challenge will take place from Saturday 19th March – Sunday 10th April. Cotswold Farm Park will also be running an Easter Egg hunt from Friday 25th March – Monday 28th March. Eggs will be hidden around the Farm Park, with 5 prizes to be won each day. All these activities are included in the normal admission price.
From Friday 25th March to Monday 28th April follow a trail around the Roman Villa and win a Cadbury egg prize. Trails cost £2. Throughout the Easter Holidays from 28th March – 12th April there will be a range of family activities to join in including craft activities.
Hidcote Manor is another National Trust property that will be running an Easter Egg Egg-stravaganza. There will be clues for hunt for, puzzles to solve and a chocolate reward. The trail costs £2 and normal admission applies. It runs from Friday 35th MArch – Monday 28th March.
On Easter Day, Sunday 27th March from 10am Sudely Castle will have an exciting Easter themed Tea Party. Complete a fun trail int he gardens to collect a chocolate Easter treat from the Mad Hatter. There is also a ‘Mad Hatter’s Easter Bonnet Competition’.
Winter is a fabulous time to visit the Wetland Centre at Slimbridge as thousands of migrating birds over winter on the Severn Estuary. There are 12 hides with amazing views looking out over the estuary. There is also a 360 degree observation tower for a birds eye view. There’s plenty of other things to do during your visit to Slimbridge, including seeing the UK’s largest flock of flamingos, visiting the tropical house, watching the resident otters and feeding ducks, geese and swans.