It’s hard to know where to start with Ploughmans Cottage because this is funky, baby-friendliness at its very best, just 5-minutes from the coast in the New Forest. Owners Rachel and Tim have lavished a whole load of love and attention to detail on their ‘rehabilitation’ of this 5-bedroom cottage, but also let their flair and quirkiness flow freely, in creating a glamper’s ‘shed-with-bed’ and a garden, thoughtfully designed to feed children’s imagination. It’s not really surprising Ploughmans was listed as No 2 in The Times best self catering properties for families in 2014 in the article ‘top 50 Cabins, Cottages and Castles.’
When the couple came here in 2010, Ploughmans Cottage was in a sad state of disrepair but, after making the old chicken shed a garden-based family home for 9 months, they restored and revitalised every bit of the place, inside and out. That same garden house is now one of the things about Ploughmans Cottage that the owners and their guests love most, with its grand four poster bed, children’s bunk room and doors that open right back to let the garden flow in.
In renovating the cottage, Rachel and Tim have retained, recycled and reused as much of the original building and materials as they could to preserve its 19th century character and make the house as eco friendly as possible. Having spent a lot of time living and working in hotels and B&B’s, they also know a thing or two about boutique styling and have breathed new life into the house through fresh and funky interior design, contemporary furnishings and quirky finishing touches. The couple have children of their own, including a 3-year old, so all the practical baby and toddler equipment parents really need is already here as well as tonnes of indoor and outdoor toys, books and family DVD’s.
The 2/3 acre garden at Ploughmans Cottage is safely fenced for children to play and the owners have gone to great lengths to make it especially fun for under 9’s. A willow ‘twigloo’, tunnels and den are sure to inspire great games and adventures whilst Coco the caravan makes the perfect play house where kids can chill out on bean bags and crayon pictures on the walls! The old stable has also been kitted out as a play area, with trikes, a ride-on tractor, digger and tip truck toys, skipping ropes and balls etc. An adorable highlight is a miniature gypsy caravan that can be dragged and dropped around the garden for perfect picnics and there’s a little cast iron stove for sizzling sausages and melting marshmallows. Besides all the fun and games, Rachel and Tim have given the garden The Good Life treatment and planted a big veg patch ‘potager’ which families are encouraged to raid for strawberries, salad leaves and other greens, plus apples and pears are ripe for the picking in the autumn. All this home grown goodness makes cooking family meals more fun but when parents really can’t be bothered, there’s a great gastro pub next door and yummy meals can be ordered to take away.
Ploughmans Cottage is geared up for 6-8 grown-ups plus a maximum of 4 children/babies and two travel cots are provided. There are four bedrooms in the main house, including two and a shower room on the ground floor. The ground floor bedroom comprise a twin/super king, with an amazing forest feature wall, and a second which has a built in triple bunk, with the lower bed a bit higher than a regular bunk and the top level being a mattress on a high mezzanine, reached by a ladder. Neither bunk is really suitable for very young children but will be a big hit with over 7s, plus there's a railing and a screw on stair slider to stop toddlers attempting the ladder. Upstairs there's a bright and fresh master bedroom with a superking size bed and ensuite with a bath and shower overhead. The fourth bedroom is designed as a babies' room with a built in platform bed just 6 inches off the floor and space for a travel cot. The fifth bedroom is the garden house featuring a big, romantic four poster, sofas and a wood burner in a 7x4m living room, plus a 4x4m bunk room, but there’s no running water, so just a vintage jug and basin for a quick wash and back to house for ablutions.
The sitting room at Ploughmans Cottage is cheerful and snug, with a couple of armchairs and a big blue corner sofa for families to snuggle down to watch one of the many DVD’s. The kitchen is well equipped for family self catering, including a Belling range oven & grill, microwave, dishwasher, SMEG American fridge freezer, toaster, kettle and children’s crockery plus there’s a chunky dining table which seats 8 and two high chairs are provided. A whole wall of the kitchen/dining area is French doors which fold right back onto a patio area that gets all the morning sun and has a table and chairs for leisurely breakfasts and snacks al fresco.
Ploughmans Cottage is in a prime location within the New Forest National Park, just a few minutes’ drive from a beach and the coastal town of Lymington, where ferries cross to the Isle of Wight opposite.
Tanners Lane Beach is walking distance (3/4 mile), along a quiet, pram-friendly lane and makes a pleasant spot for a picnic and sundowners. Children can take a bucket and spade to play in the sand, silt and shingle then paddle in a stream and clamber around the trees. Lymington also has a saltwater lido which is open in the summer, but a bit chilly for toddlers, so Lymington Swimming Pool might be a better option, with a lovely baby pool.
The cottage is next door to the award-winning gastro pub, the East End Arms, where the fabulous breakfasts and take away chips are especially recommended by the owners. There are more good places to eat in Lymington, including the ‘chippy’ and Indian on the high street, a great cafe at Berthon Boatyard, an ASK for pizzas and COOK for ready-meals.
The nearest corner shop is a couple of miles away and Longdown Farm shop provides a wide range of home reared meats, free range chicken and eggs, cheeses, breads, fruit and veggies, honey from local hives and New Forest Ice Cream. The shop is also part of Longdown Activity Farm where families can happily spend a good few hours, meeting friendly farm animals, having fun in the indoor soft play area, sand pit and straw den, bouncing on trampolines, having a go at go-karting or on the ride-on tractors and scrambling around the adventure playground. There’s also a tea room and plenty of picnic tables for pack-ups.
At the New Forest Wildlife Park, children can have close encounters with otters, owls, deer and bison among other furry and feathered creatures. There’s also an adventure playground with sand pits, diggers, slides, climbing frames and swings for little children and zip wires, climbing ropes, birds nests and spider nets for older ones. The New Forest National Park itself is, of course a beautiful natural playground, famous for its cute, miniature wild ponies and a wealth of wildlife to watch out for, whether walking, cycling or driving through the ancient woodlands and moors. Beaulieu house, gardens and Motor Museum is one of biggest attractions in the New Forest and just 5 minutes drive from Ploughmans Cottage. Paultons family theme park (40 mins) is home to Pepper Pig World.
Nearest Medical Services: Lymington (3 miles away) has low level A&E department. .