It’s time for a catch-up and to log how much the world has changed (yet again) in such a short space of time. So before I move on to talking about a very special family weekend away, I want to acknowledge it. As you know, I write this blog as a form of diary so for the sake of record it’s now two weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine sending Europe and the rest of the world into a state of shock. Events are moving fast so I’m not going to talk about what’s happening, however for anyone who may be reading this in the future, I want to document the collective horror and impotence that most people are feeling. We can donate to the appeals and express our views but still everyone I speak to wishes there was more they could do to help the suffering we’re seeing on our screens every day. Where it will end we don’t know and I suspect it will continue to be a presence in my posts over the months ahead. For now though, I’m going to stand by the feedback you give me saying that this is a place you come to when you’re looking for an escape from world affairs – so just for a little while escape with me. You see a couple of weeks ago we were invited to stay at Edgar House and I’m hoping to take you there virtually because it’s somewhere very special.
Edgar House – a perfect British weekend bolthole for a large group
First of all let me give you a bit of background. Just before Christmas when omicron was raging I was invited to visit this newly refurbished luxury holiday home in Chester and write an Edgar House review. After two years of so many holiday let downs it felt like a dream come true. At first I thought it would be a great way for us to get back together with a big group of friends – but when I started putting feelers out I stumbled over the thorny new issue of vaccination. Not everybody we know has had their Covid jab and feelings surrounding it run high.
Then of course Covid landed slap bang in the middle of our own family Christmas. The Edgar House review date we’d been offered at the end of February suddenly felt like a festive lifeboat and I decided we’d aim for Christmas#2 – the remake! It seemed greedy to keep somewhere so special to ourselves though and so we told the boys they could each invite someone. Eldest and youngest immediately opted for the loves in their lives but the middle one couldn’t choose between his two closest university friends. Since their first day at uni the three of them have come as a package and luckily there were enough rooms to keep the musketeers together.
Life then got so very busy that we didn’t really think much more about it which of course is a new joy of having grown up children – you just give them the details and they arrange the rest for themselves. So when, after weeks of stormy winter weather we woke up on the day of our trip and the sun was shining, it felt auspicious. We did a morning’s work, piled the car high with goodies and headed off on the easy journey to Chester.
I was so looking forward to us all being together. I haven’t enjoyed my empty winter nest and the days have felt dark and long. Mr MC has been away a lot so I’ve spent more time than usual on my own and, as for everyone, it’s been a time of endless bad news and bad weather. So the thing I was anticipating most was being in energetic and optimistic young company (and reading that back I sound about 90 I know!). To get in myself the zone I tuned into my own university playlist in the car and before I knew it we’d arrived at Edgar House.
And it blew us all away.
Edgar House review – Friday night
Edgar House is right in the heart of the old city of Chester next to the river and it’s the whole building you see stretching out behind me in the picture below. It used to be a hotel but Mark, the new owner, has decided to turn it into the ultimate luxury holiday home, where large groups can really enjoy a private weekend of relaxing and having fun together.
And before I show you around the house I’ll just add that it gave me the perfect opportunity to do my February edits so I’ll talk you through the clothes as I go too. I loved this jacket the moment I spotted it because of the texture which adds another dimension to your outfit and also doesn’t pick up the dirt as easily as a flat weave. Boden do the best blazer cuts for anyone who’s looking for the longer, leaner look that’s around at the moment; this one still follows the lines of your body rather than being loose and boxy.
The denim blouse is the perfect shade for colourblocking with mid-wash jeans and it has lovely detailing at the collar and cuffs. And the bag and boots are the exact shade of tan suede that I’ve been trying to find, you can’t beat tan with blue or navy in my opinion. After months of wearing stompy boots it felt good to wear a walkable heel – and far more elegant for a weekend like this. The matching suede bag is soft and capacious, great for a relaxed look.
Back to Edgar House. We were met by Caroline who manages the house and as she showed us around there were gasps from everyone as one room went on to exceed another. In all there are seven bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and lots of them have an individual theme in their decor such as Chester Zoo, Roman emperors or the racecourse. It was almost impossible to choose between them because they’re all quirky and special which is a good thing as nobody feels they’ve been given a raw deal. We’d be here all day if I showed you them all but here’s a flavour:
You can feel the touch of an interior designer but the great thing is that it’s neither bland nor overworked. In fact you could spend an hour or so just looking at the art around the place which hasn’t been ordered en masse from a decor supplier, instead each piece works with the mood of the room; it’s been thought through, invested in and displayed with care.
Original architectural features have been carefully restored and they balance out the quirky modernity of the furnishings
There are quiet rooms that you can escape to such as this homely study where I spent a couple of hours catching up on work.
And then there are group spaces such as a games room…
…and a movie room where you can have fun together. The juke box went down particularly well because it could be linked to your Spotify account (and I was glad it was down in the basement when the boys’ playlists throbbed out).
The heart of the house was the huge open plan kitchen/ living and dining area which was where I spent most of my time. When we weren’t busy doing something together people dropped in and out to chat…
… and dip into the delicious macarons that Caroline had thoughtfully whipped up for us – with a nut-free crispy cake kindly made by her little daughter for our allergic eldest boy.
And as if the interior wasn’t enough, right outside were the city walls and the river – it’s such an idyllic spot…
There are two lovely big tables in the grounds for al fresco dining and it must be a spectacular place to relax as the sun sinks on a warm summer’s evening.
At this point on the Friday night when everybody had arrived and settled we just relaxed. Mr MC threw a chilli together, just as he would if we were at home and we sat around the dining table with a few bottles of wine. That would have been enough for me but the boys’ eyes had landed on ye olde pub close by…
… they suggested we went out for a nightcap… which we did. I can’t say it was the nicest place they could have picked – but they liked it.
Edgar House review – Saturday
Another great thing about going away with older offspring are the long, lazy mornings you can spend before they emerge from their lairs. I woke up with a bit of a sore head so I wallowed in the bath for a while and then relaxed on one of the many comfy sofas with a magazine.
It was approaching midday when we went downstairs to make bacon butties and I discovered the pleasure of the supremely high tech kitchen with four separate ovens to grill bacon in (and two dishwashers for the clearing up).
It’s a big job feeding nine, especially when five of them are starving uni students.
Nothing was going to tear me away from the house on Saturday but the eldest two headed out to Sick To Death, a medical museum they’d spotted. They said it was perhaps more tailored towards children than them but even so they really enjoyed it. Apparently it was very interactive.
The Northumbria boys hit the shops and the younger two walked the old city walls while Mr MC and I took a few photos back at the house. Before too long they regrouped – first of all for the rugby…
… a few combative challenges in the games room…
… and then they all settled down together to watch a Disney movie claiming that whole point in going away with parents was the chance to completely regress.
As it happened, it was also a special girl’s 19th birthday and so we called them upstairs for a little celebration with fizz…
…and cake. I always make chocolate face cakes for birthdays so it was a whole new challenge doing a girl’s face rather than my usual boy ones!
And it’s a new pleasure shopping for girl presents… risky… but I knew she’d look great in this bucket hat (clearly she isn’t 4 – the badge was the uni boys’ approximation of a birthday card!).
I’d ordered the ingredients for a new cocktail that we decided to call ‘The Edgar’…
… and the younger two stepped in as mixologists…
… taking it extremely seriously which was entertaining.
The Edgar Cocktail (measures serve 1)
- 2.5 fl oz gin (we used Chester Gin)
- 1 fl oz rhubarb syrup
- 1 fl oz lime juice
- 1 dash rhubarb bitters
- 4 dashes cardamom bitters
Place ingredients into a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake well. Strain into a straight glass filled with fresh ice and top up with soda water to taste.
By now the icy winds had returned outside but I wanted to show you this boilersuit. It’s the nicest one I’ve come across – and the fact that it’s more or less sold out underpins that. The reason it’s so good is that unlike most boilersuits it’s tailored to fit at the waist so you don’t have that ‘borrowed from the workshop’ look. Unfortunately for me I’d need an extra two inches of length in the body for it to be truly comfortable – I tried sizing up but then it just looked baggy. If you’re short bodied, 5ft 6 or under or petite you’re onto a winner though. Boden – please do it in a tall!
And we had time to relax so Mr MC went down to join the boys in the games room while I went upstairs to read a book before getting changed for dinner. And I will just say that I absolutely love this dress and I suspect you’ll see me wearing it a lot this year. It’s the perfect mix of fitted bodice and floaty hem with plenty of room for good food and drink. You’ll find square and sweetheart necklines everywhere this season and they’re a very easy way to update your look. The earrings work well with it too and they’re so light you forget you have them on.
I didn’t have to worry about dinner because Edgar House comes with a range of options including various private chefs. We opted for the lovely Paola Cecchini who came over to cook us an Italian meal. She offered us the choice of doing it as a cookery lesson which would have been fun but I’m slightly ashamed to say that we were just happy for her to take over and do everything for us.
All that was left for us to do was serve the Edgar cocktail…
These photos make me laugh because in the corner of each one I can spot the friendly sparring that began the moment that Mr MC and one of the boys (also a Geordie – but from the other side of the toon) first met. They banter about everything and over the weekend fought every game they played to the death – each determined to be king of the North East.
Before we knew it Paola was sitting us down for our sumptuous dinner of saffron risotto with crispy sausage…
…followed by stuffed porchetta with crispy hasselback potaotes and charred tenderstem broccoli…
…and then melting chocolate fondants.
Like everything else at Edgar House, the meal was sublime and Paola even did all of the clearing up afterwards, it was like having a kitchen version of Mary Poppins.
It was time now for the eldest’s girlfriend to take over and she did a great job even though she wasn’t feeling on top form. She’s become our minister of games and over the last few years she’s introduced us to some of our favourite new board games. This time she’d cleverly come armed with card games for large groups that she plays with her hockey team. Hockey players clearly match rugby players with their enthusiasm for drinking forfeits so I was glad that they didn’t notice me quietly filling my glass with Pepsi!
(And here’s yet another lively debate going on between the Geordies by the look of it!).
After the games came the kitchen disco with far more space then we’re used to at home…
… and even a dance-off as the young Newcastle boy tried to teach the older one an update to his dad-dancing footwork!
It was our family’s version of a perfect evening and it more than made up for our slightly muted Christmas Day when I was coming down with Covid.
Edgar House review – Sunday
On the Sunday everyone woke with a heavy heart knowing it would soon be time to pack up and leave. After enough croissants to feed a herd of mammoths one party headed off to Cheshire Oaks, the others for a walk and we forced ourselves away from the house and strolled into the ancient city of Chester. It’s somewhere I used to go quite regularly with my mum when she first had her cancer diagnosis so it brought back bittersweet memories. The one thing that amazed me was what a thriving place it is, even now, with lots of independent stores sitting comfortably alongside national retailers.
I’m sure most of you know it, it’s a historic city, especially known for its many half timbered buildings.
And of course its spectacular cathedral where, with it being Sunday, the bells rang out all day.
We didn’t even begin to do justice to everything it has to offer, you could easily stay for a week and fill each day with a different activity. You can see I’m looking a little weary so I was glad I’d brought my usual Sunday athleisure, albeit in a new colourway for my Feb edit – don’t forget you always get 15% off with code MLC15.
We reconvened at Edgar House, facing up to the fact that we were going to have to return to reality. I felt as though I’d had a beautiful kaleidoscope of a weekend, spending it with the right people in perfect surroundings. As we held our boys close one last time my heart ached for the many women in Ukraine who are watching their husbands and sons, partners and daughters going off to fight for their freedom and their lives – not knowing if they’ll ever see them again. I’m always aware of how lucky I am and never more so than now.
You know I like to give balanced reviews and point out weaknesses where I find them but other than a couple of the TVs not working properly in the bedrooms and there being no magnifying mirrors in the bathrooms, at Edgar House there were none. Absolutely none. It was five star but in a comfortable, relaxed kind of way. The only problem now is that our own home feels rubbish by comparison and so to Mr MC’s horror I’m hoping to start a bit of a DIY project – I see it as the kick up the bum we needed!
At a time when we’ve all had so much disappointment and uncertainty surrounding any kind of travel, it’s great to know that places like this are springing up – easy to get to with every comfort you could ever wish for – and beyond. Mark’s mission is to offer ‘exceptional holiday homes in amazing places’ and he’s busy working on two others for large groups – one in the Lakes and one in Anglesey. If you have any kind of special birthday or family event coming up I absolutely won’t hesitate for a second to recommend Edgar House to you. I’ve stayed in some amazing places around the world over the years but even though it’s right on our doorstep, none of them compare to this.
And so I said goodbye to my weekend of living the perfect family life – my chance to be Ma Walton with my seven children. We made memories that none of us will ever forget and that, in itself, is priceless. Thank you Mark – and everybody who works with you at the Daisy Joy Escapes team.
Disclosure: ‘Edgar House review – a British bolthole for large groups’ is not a sponsored post. We were invited to stay for the purposes of an honest review and there was no pressure on me for it to be positive in any way.
Recent posts you may have missed
Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.