AS a very big birthday loomed for my mum, the pressure was on to find a place as special as she is where the family could get together and spoil her rotten.
Luckily, I stumbled across a beautiful thatched bolthole called Ivy Roost Cottage off the beaten track in the New Forest, Hampshire.
Admittedly, given how many candles would be blazing away on my mum’s cake, I did momentarily fear for the charming wooden beamwork inside the 400-year-old cottage.
It is rude to reveal a lady’s age but let’s just say my lovely mum Maureen is older than Madonna but younger than Tina Turner.
Ivy Roost proved to be the perfect venue for her to relax in the lap of luxury for a couple of days and let us wait on her for a change.
This four-bed cottage is the perfect place for a family gathering, with three bathrooms, plus an extra shower meaning multi-generational groups can all have their own space.
Its stunning master bedroom has a beautiful view across the New Forest.
The cottage’s location could not be better for nature lovers.
Stroll a few metres across the road and you are in the thick of the National Park and can start a lovely walk to the local pub, meeting not only ponies but cows and rabbits along the way.
But if you just want to kick back and relax, you can grab some fresh air without even having to step out of the confines of the holiday home.
Ivy Roost has a large and very pretty garden complete with picturesque wooden swing, large lawn and ping-pong table.
The British weather did not disappoint on our winter visit, but it didn’t matter because Ivy Roost was the perfect bunker in which to hunker.
The wood-burning stove in the cosy sitting room was the ideal place for us to park ourselves on a rainy afternoon and play board games.
But best of all, the outdoor hot tub made sure Mum felt like a pampered celeb, no matter how grey the skies.
As a surprise treat, we hired our own private chef for the evening.
Husband and wife team Tim and Sarah Trussler, who run catering business Taste, arrived an hour and a half before dinner and whipped up a three-course gourmet feast.
It wasn’t cheap but it was a truly memorable birthday present.
The cosiness of the cottage meant it did feel a bit of an effort to drag ourselves away but there was plenty to do nearby when we did.
The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is a must visit, with a huge collection of vehicles including Mr Bean’s car and Harry Potter’s flying motor.
We had a blast, with my kids taking rides on a vintage bus and monorail.
And from next spring there will be even more for children to do when a new Little Beaulieu adventure playground opens.
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Just down the road from the cottage is Buckler’s Hard village – once a thriving shipbuilding enclave where Nelson’s fleet for Trafalgar was constructed.
Take a stroll and watch boats roll past or grab a spot of lunch at the quaint inn.
However much, or little, you decide to do, a stay at Ivy Roost is a sure-fire way to give yourself a boost.
GO: NEW FOREST
STAYING THERE: A week’s stay in Ivy Roost for nine guests costs from £1,350 in total and a three-night break from £1,013.
See premiercottages.co.uk or call 01969 662766.