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We are back at one of my favourite countryside getaways. Just ninety minutes from London is Maison Talbooth in the Dedham Vale.

Think chocolate box villages and cream teas. Maison Talbooth is a gorgeous boutique hotel on the Essex Suffolk borders. Cosy, yet chic, it’s own little spa and an extremely popular outdoor pool, heated to steaming temperatures, a really unique experience in winter.

It’s part of a family-owned group of boutique properties and restaurants dotted around Essex and Suffolk, with its own award-winning, fine dining restaurant- Le Talbooth, sitting in a privileged, beautifully picturesque position on the banks of the river Stour, we have been lucky enough to enjoy lunches here, both indoors and out.

We aren’t staying in the hotel this time. Instead, we are trying out a new addition to the Milsoms collection; their luxury cottage, Idle Waters. A timber-framed 16th century cottage belonging to the family, that they recently, lovingly renovated to accommodate guests looking for their own little sanctuary. Great for one or two couples with two luxurious en suite bedroom and even better for our little family with the children sharing.

I know the Milsom’s properties well, having visited before but arriving still took my breath away. Sitting directly opposite Le Talbooth, on the other side of the river bank, a view in itself.

The decor is everything you could want from a luxury country cottage; modern kitchen, inglenook fireplace, funky art on the walls, huge slouchy sofas and lots of atmosphere lighting. Upstairs exposed beams, thick pile carpet and fur throws on massive comfy beds.

The luxury is just the icing on the cake when sitting at the huge bay windows looking out onto a weeping willow, the river, a quaint bridge and the handsome 16th century restaurant building on the other side. I’m no painter but it’s obvious what Constable saw in this landscape.

Guests at the cottage can eat at Milsom’s Brasserie but are also catered for with a hamper continental breakfast.

We couldn’t resist Sunday lunch at Le Talbooth; roast Dedham Vale beef carved at the table with all the trimmings!

There’s also a hugely popular afternoon tea at Maison Talbooth but make sure you book early.

The Stour Valley Path runs right from the door. Walks for the faint and not so faint-hearted abound.

We took the shortest then went on to Flatford Mills. Part of the National Trust it combines nature, history and art and another opportunity for more dining on the river at a riverside tea room.

Back to the cottage for baths in the oversized tub, more eating and another nights rest before we were on our way to London.

So, if you are looking for true family country experience; cottage, National Trust, award-winning walks and award-winning food, then head out to Dedham Vale and Idle Waters.

Prices from £250 per night for four people. Access to the spa at Le Talbooth and the pool house with prior arrangement.

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