Less than an hour from London, the contrast in sounds is clear. Traffic, sirens and horns give way to beating wings and the gentle rippling of the lake water as the ducks and Canada geese land. A lonely honk echoes in the still air. Beside the Lake has a job to do and it does it well: to soothe your soul among the people who matter.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to succumb to the charms of life by the lake, with only geese and your 13 besties for company. Deep in the Hampshire hush, you’re invited to picnic by the lake, play tennis in the sunshine, and mix and mingle in the two generous living spaces.
Cook on the fan ovens in the fully equipped kitchen, or call in Becka Cooper for a celebration or fully catered break. Out in the pleasure gardens, you’ll spend evenings under the stars wrapped in the warmth of the firepit. Then retire to tranquil bedrooms with undisturbed lake views.
With a lake at the bottom of the garden, you’ll want to spend plenty time outdoors on the terrace that looks over the lake. Take a picnic down to the water’s edge and watch the ducks and geese land.
Bring your rackets and balls for the tennis court. Play croquet on the lawn. Refuel over the coal barbecue. Breathe clean air and shrug off the city.
Two sociable spaces allow you to relax and reconnect among the people who matter, or slide away to let time slip away in the company of a book from the shelves or music in your ears. Get together in the vaulted sitting room for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video streamed over fast Gigabeam Wi-Fi.
Blast out some sounds on the Bluetooth. And don’t forget to shop for logs: you’ll need them for the fireside banter that goes on way beyond bedtime. Cosy up in generous spaces with a backdrop of gentle breezes that ripple the lake water and filter through the boughs.
Two fan ovens and a four-burner hob ease matters in the fully fitted kitchen nicely. Fill the fridge/freezer with goodies from the West Lea Farm Shop and Mange2, with drinks from The Naked Grape that you can keep in the sitting-room fridge. Or call up Becka Cooper or Emily Stabb for top-class in-house catering.
Treat yourself to takeaways, at Thai Lounge in Ropley, pizza from Party at the Mill and Indian from Shapla in Alresford. Eat around the dining table or out in the sunshine on the terrace with meat and fish from Evans Butcher’s thrown onto the coal barbecue. Wind things up with a sunshine coffee from the cafetiere.
Eat out in The Woolpack Inn on local game, trout from pristine chalk streams, Brixham fish, small dairy cheeses and watercress from nearby beds. Try The Tichborne Arms, a brand-new pub with an outdoor bar serving pork cheek, plaice on the bone and Jacob’s Ladder beef shortrib. Or The Bush Inn for catch of the day.
Tuck into tapas or jamon from free-ranging Iberico pigs from Polpo Negro in Alresford.
How about buffalo halloumi or Fowey mussels at Party at The Mill? Or traditional county pub grub with a contemporary twist and menus that change almost every day to make the most of the seasons at The Three Horseshoes.
Four acres of woodland and lake surround you. The gentle splash of a Canada goose landing on the water might be as disruptive as it gets around here. Beside the Lake offers accommodation for 14 in seven bedrooms.
On the ground floor, bedroom one provides a kingsize bed with private en-suite bathroom complete with shower, while bedroom two is also a kingsize with a shared family bathroom. Bedroom three offers a superking that converts to twins and a private en-suite bathroom with shower and bath, plus a walk-in wardrobe and space for a cot.
On the first floor, bedroom four offers a kingsize bed that shares a family bathroom, while bedrooms five, six and seven are all kingsize rooms with private, en-suite shower bathrooms with showers; bedrooms six and seven also offer a bath.