REVIEW: The Killingworth Castle

Since the Little Miss was born we’ve only had one night away from the kids, and that was for a wedding, so when The Killingworth Castle invited us to try out their food and rooms our excitement levels were through the roof! What’s especially lovely is that we actually spent our first wedding anniversary at it’s sister pub The Ebrington Arms – which is quite possibly where the Little Man was conceived!

A 17th century Cotswolds coaching inn, run by husband and wife team Jim and Claire Alexander, it’s located just a few miles from Blenheim Palace (and not far from Bicester if you’re a shopping fiend!) and was an easy journey for us from South London – which we did in less than 2 hours. There are eight lovely bedrooms (we had room 8, complete with roll top bath), with a very warm welcome supplied by the little decanter of sherry in each room, which I think set the tone for a pretty boozy visit from us (although we probably didn’t need a lot of encouragement!).

After a quick mooch around a few nearby antique shops, something usually impossible with our smash-happy kids, and tucking into the free sherry, we decided that we should head to the pub itself (the rooms are just next door in the old barns). Bingle took no persuading to try the pub’s own craft beer range, under the banner of The Yubberton Brewing Co., which comprises three ales, all brewed locally. He went for the Yawnie (other options are the Yubby and the Goldie), which, in his words, was delicious, and beautifully deep and surprisingly creamy for a bitter – almost like a ruby ale or a porter. I ordered a bottle of wine and a glass. Standard. And lovely – the wine selection is great too, and Frank (wonderfully photo bombing below) could not have been more attentive, making sure we had everything we needed and keeping the drinks flowing!

We toasted our kid-free status and feasted our eyes on the dinner menu. Even pre-kids, as foodies the eating options have always been an important part of choosing where we might go away for the night, and this menu looked like it wasn’t going to disappoint. After much deliberation I chose a starter of scallops grilled in shell, nduja butter, samphire and seaweed crumb, which were sweet, salty and delicious, with Bingle opting for Salt pig charcuterie, pickles, chutney and sourdough, which he devoured. Other options included a BBQ cauliflower dish with goats cheese, pickled raisins and apple, and a spiced venison carpaccio with parsnip remoulade, pickled blueberries and hazelnut. For the main course we went meat heavy (but the fish and vegetarian options sounded amazing too) – a 40 day dry aged Longhorn sirloin steak for him, and local partridge with steamed bread pudding (heaven!), swede and charred cauliflower for me. I can’t quite remember if I licked the plate (wine down!) but I definitely wanted to.

And we sat and we ate and we drank and we chatted and we laughed. Without the worry of getting home for a babysitter, or thinking about how many times we’d be up in the night with the sleeptwats, or the fear of the 5am wake-up. Something we hadn’t been able to do, just the two of us, in actual YEARS. And crikey did we really need it. If you saw my Instagram stories from that night you will have seen how much we laughed. I’ve just actually cried a bucketful writing this, because parenting little people and running our own businesses is hard – it’s worn us down, and keeping the lights on has been more the priority than laughing lately, and I think our night away might just have brought us back from the dead.

By this point we’re on to bottle 2 (now a red) and the pudding menu comes out to more gasps of delight from us. In the end we plumped for sharing the divine dark chocolate brownie with toasted marshmallow (TO DIE FOR) and peanut butter ice cream, and then having a cheeseboard in the bar – which fittingly included a couple of our wedding cheeses, Colston Bassett and Lincolnshire Poacher.

And then we went back to our room and laughed some more, mainly about the picture I took of Bingle in the bath and the fact that there was no way we could successfully get in there together, and then we went to sleep. Without a toddler kicking us in the head. And in one of those beds where you feel a bit like you’re on a cloud. Well, I think we probably were – cloud 9. In the morning any twinges of hangover were seen away by full English breakfasts, coffee and, for me, a hot bath – with actual water in it this time!

A night away to be us. Him and me. Husband and wife. Because to be the best parents for our kids, we have to be the best partners for each other too, and just one night away felt like a reset for us.

Rooms start at £110 per night, and they are currently giving away a Luxury Weekend Break for 2 – a two night stay, full English breakfast both mornings, and three course dinner for 2 on one of the nights. Winner picked on 11th December 2017, enter on their Instagram page and/or their Facebook page for a chance to win!

For more information or to book head to their website.

Our stay was kindly gifted by The Killingworth Castle, but we mean it when we say we bloody loved it. Thanks so much for having us!

Written by Christina Pickworth.

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