About a year ago, my husband mentioned a company that a childhood friend had started. It’s called Stately Rides, and it gathers a small group of people together and gives you on a horse riding tour of some of the most beautiful countryside in Gloucestershire while staying in a beautiful private home each night. I knew immediately that I would have to go on this trip and I knew when and with whom. Each summer our family friend Regena comes to stay with us with the simple goal of riding horses incessantly with my daughter Coco and me. So then and there I floated the idea of Stately Rides, and the three of us were all in.
All year I looked forward to our three days of riding and visiting amazing homes, and the trip itself exceeded my expectations. We arrived on the first afternoon at Wormington Grange, a very grand house indeed. But instead of formal staff and stuffy surroundings we were invited to sit round the kitchen table and have tea served by the owner John Evetts and his partner Annie. They were both gracious and down to earth hosts, making us feel at home right away. John told us about inheriting the house in 1978 from his parents who had let it fall nearly to ruin, and restoring the entire house, grounds, and stable buildings. He did much of the work with his own two hands. “I have spent nearly every penny and spare minute I have ever had on the project,” he told us. We had a chatty evening over a home cooked meal made by Annie in the formal dining room, and then went off to bed early to prepare ourselves for the six hours of riding ahead of us the next day.
What I enjoyed most about the riding was the new view. I spend hours each week exercising the horses on our farm and while it’s my favorite place on Earth to ride, it was exciting to have some novel scenery. I also loved spending an entire day riding – for me, there is no better way to enjoy nature and the seasons than on a horse. Unfortunately my knees and ass didn’t feel the same way – despite having a lamb’s fleece “seat saver” on my saddle, popping Advil every three hours and wearing padded bike shorts under my jodhpurs. A hot bath and a glass of champagne never felt so good.
|Arriving a Wormington Grange on Friday afternooon in time for tea.|
|A rose-lined wall at Wormington Grange.|
|Entering through the servants entrance. Love it.|
|Coco (still in her school uniform) making a fast new friend in the library.|
|There were many wonderful and eccentric portraits in the stairway leading to the bedrooms, but this was my favorite. I love the simplicity.|
|A detail of the 70’s Alice in Wonderland fabric curtains in one of the children’s rooms.|
|Another friend we made in the kitchen.|
|Before breakfast on Saturday morning, we took a walk to see the immaculately maintained grounds.|
|A charming fellow we met at the stables. I kept teasing Coco, the best rider out of all of us, that this was going to be her horse for the weekend.|
|Coco and Regena amongst the giant trees.|
|Setting off from Wormington Grange on Otto, Widgeon and Star.|
|We rode up into the hills after seeing this incredible field of poppies, and we could still see it from miles and miles away.|
|A local passerby.|
|I love this handsome boy, spotted high up in the hills of Gloucestershire.|
|Miss Coco B catching her breath on Otto. Coco and I switched horses every now and then, so as not to get too sore from sitting in the same saddle all day.|
|Our group selfie (and my crooked teeth!).|
|I never cease to be amazed by the beauty of sheep in the English countryside.
I was charmed by this painting hanging above the fireplace at the pub where we had lunch in Snowshill.
|Still smiling at the end of our first 6 hour ride (just).|
|Our well-deserved treat at tea-timeCOME BACK TOMORROW TO SEE PART TWO!|