Few things are as wonderful as the mix of food, wine and music in a beautiful setting, and last Sunday was spent in the usual style that we have become accustomed to. These quiet weekends in Burley have been some of the highlights of my year so far. Local, slow-paced and on the acceptable side of lazy, it feels like a true escape from everyday life without having to travel very far. Just down the winding country road is Burley Manor, an understated gem in the New Forest favoured by us for these slow weekends. On Sunday, they hosted the Mediterranean Festival, something that we had been looking forward to for a while.
Upon arriving, we made our way over to The Barn at the back of the hotel where the Mediterranean Festival was taking place. This beautifully converted barn is where weddings and functions are held, and we had previously enjoyed an evening here at a relaxed wine tasting a few months ago. Everything from the overall rustic decor to the details, like warm spotlight lighting and natural touches, creates a welcoming feel as soon as you step inside. With fireplaces at either end and original beams, I cannot think of a more idyllic venue for a special occasion – and this Mediterranean Festival was just that.
Food and drink
Finding somewhere to claim for the afternoon proved to be rather tricky as the festival was in full swing when we arrived, and coupled with the fact that it had just started drizzling, seat options outside were limited. In true British style, we huddled under a roof, listening to the Spanish acoustic duo on guitar and gazed longingly at the delicious food being cooked in front of us. Not long after, we finally found our own corner inside the barn and exchanged our money for food tokens. The seafood paella was both filling and delicious, and served in a cardboard hot food container, which added to the relaxed festival vibe. Although not my first choice, the light and fruity sauvignon blanc ended up being the perfect partner; unfortunately, the bar inside the barn didn’t have the Petit Papillon Grenache Blanc, which is a favourite of mine here. Following our food and a long chat, the crowds started to thin out until eventually we were almost the only ones left. We made our way outside to experience a little bit of the festival outdoors but soon after finding a seat, the British weather decided that this wasn’t meant to be. We rushed back to the main part of the hotel for a second drink.
The main bar
If The Barn is the epitome of light and airiness, the main bar inside the hotel is its polar opposite – in a good way. With dark purple walls, plush seating and opulent tables, the decor is luxurious and somehow always reminds me of a modern day Agatha Christie novel. We started with cocktails because rainy days always call for something indulgent like an espresso martini. This swiftly lead us to the decision to spend the rest of the afternoon here and so gin and tonics followed not long after, with a little side of halloumi. My Lymington Gin was garnished with a lime and pink peppercorns, which shows just the level of detail taken into account at Burley Manor. If I had to choose my favourite place to dine in the New Forest, it would undoubtedly be here. As the afternoon unfolded, conversation turned to more beautiful events like this in the future. Next up on my list is the festive wreath workshop & lunch.
One of the highlights of our afternoon was spotting a herd of deer that usually resides outside the hotel in the warmer months. I like to think that this reserve just coincidentally happens to be outside a venue serving game because anything else is just too much to bear…
Having looked forward to this event for a while, it ended up being a wonderful way to finish off a weekend. All that was missing was perhaps a great novel to delve into and enjoy alongside cocktails but the company more than made up for this lack of reading material. The next adventure awaits.
What are your favourite ways to spend a slow weekend?