Folly good show; Heather Bowen chalks up a perfect weekend break in Oxfordshire.
When people think about a staycation how many consider Oxfordshire? I'll be honest, I hadn't - and now I realise that was a mistake.
Rolling green hills, historic homes to wander around, a lovely city of dreaming spires to get lost in; the county has it all and you don't need to look that hard to find it.
My husband Daniel and I stayed for a weekend in the four-star Sudbury House Hotel in the rural market village of Faringdon in the south of the county, and upon arrival almost immediately forgot about the usual demands of everyday life.
Just a short, uphill walk alongside the hotel's grounds we visited the 100ft Faringdon Folly Tower. It is surrounded by beautiful, quiet woodland and enjoys views over five counties, no less.
You can go up the tower itself, but you can take in the panoramic views just as easily from the ground. Tower opening times are limited - check online first at faringdonfolly.org.uk.
It was while enjoying the view, sitting on one of the benches dotted alongside the woodland, that I realised "hey, isn't that the white horse?" Indeed, only a short drive away is the prehistoric Uffington White Horse, a 374ft steed etched into the hills with chalk.
Needless to say, the views from here were just as spectacular. In fact, each time we walked up a new hill there would be something else in the distance we'd want to explore: from country homes such as Buscot Park to Oxford itself.
From Faringdon you can drive, or get a bus, to the university city. As you'd expect, it's a busy place with plenty of sights to see and places to eat and drink (our favourite for both being at the medieval castle).
That said, the best place we ate at throughout our short stay was back at the freshly refurbished Sudbury House Hotel.
Michelin-star chef Andrew Scott runs the kitchen at Restaurant 56 - the fine-dining area situated in the Grade II listed wing of the hotel - and, if you ask me, it won't be long until he's winning more accolades.
Beautifully presented, unbelievably tasty food is served to you by waiters who couldn't be more accommodating.
Daniel and I opted for the six-course PS60 tasting menu and couldn't fault a single mouthful. He had the wine paired with his meal and declared it was just as delicious. Expect the likes of smoked eel and roasted beets, stuffed Woolley Park quail scotch egg, and loin and ragu of Scottish venison.
If you're ever in the area I'd recommend a detour just to dine here. It'll be well worth it.
Don't get it confused with the more mainstream Magnolia Brasserie next to the hotel's reception though. Food there is also great, but it's not to the same high standard (or cost) of the AA 3 Rosette Restaurant 56.
And if you do happen to be one of the hotel's guests, you'll experience a lot more than just great food and a lovely, quiet location. You'll be given the quality service - as delivered in Restaurant 56 - from every member of staff you meet.
All told, we enjoyed a truly relaxing staycation.
Rooms at the Sudbury House Hotel in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, start at PS170pn &B or PS230pn h/b. sudburyhouse.co.uk
Faringdon is just off the A420; Swindon railway station is about 13 miles away.
Tourist info: visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com
BEST TIME TO GO Get the Ox factor year round
picture perfect Top, Faringdon Folly Tower. Above, from top left, rooftops of beautiful Oxford, Heather takes in the views across Oxfordshire, the Uffington White Horse and the recently refurbished Sudbury House Hotel