WHEN the missus told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted a break, I had visions of packing a suitcase and heading into that famous single man’s retreat, Regent’s Court flats, Hillsborough.
Fortunately she didn’t mean a break FROM me, she was looking to get away WITH me.
Phew. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
The fragrant Mrs Westerdale wanted to get away for a couple of days, leaving behind the routine chores.
She was quite explicit.
Top of her agenda was fine food - a beautiful menu (prepared by somebody that was not her, for a change) that could be served in elegant, classy splendour and would be remembered for a long time.
White table cloths and napkins.
Somewhere with style and character. Perhaps London’s Knightsbridge, Mayfair or Kensington. Maybe catch a show at the West End.
Right, I’m on it, I say, scurrying off to the PC, privately muttering: “Why London? I HATE London!
The challenge was to oblige Mrs W, without enduring the suffering of the ‘City Break.’
Experience is that short breaks, particularly London ones, can have directly the opposite effect of relaxing body and soul.
The rush for the train, the hurly burly of metropolitan life, the jousting for the best seats in restaurants, pubs, cafes, cinemas and theatres. Or even finding a square inch of free pavement.
The tube! Oh God, the tube.
But where to go, closer to home, where all boxes of quality and comfort can be ticked and Mrs W can be pampered and de-stressed?
Fortunately, the answer fell into my lap. It lay just 53 miles from Sheffield and a million miles from the pace of the capital. The owners of one of the top restaurants in Britain were looking to present their celebrated wares to journalists.
So off to Winteringham Fields.
“Where’s Winteringham Fields?” I hear you cry, echoing the first words of Mrs W who added: “Somewhere like Belgravia?”.
Well, six miles west of the Humber Bridge I blurt. The other side of Scunthorpe.
As a skilled wordsmith, I couldn’t have picked a less eloquent description, failing to do justice to one of the prettier villages of Lincolnshire.
It was a quiet journey east.
But any misgivings my wife had about my choice of destination were to disappear the moment we arrived.
Two obvious plus points were the 16th Century manor house setting and our greeting by forensically-efficient staff who clearly shared the same views as Mrs W on quality and service.
Winteringham Fields brands itself as a premier “restaurant with rooms,” which provides the correct impression about its cuisine, but under-sells the 11 tasteful suites alongside.
After checking in, a pleasant walk around the village, an hour in the pub and a lie down, we were starting to get sufficiently chilled.
But I knew the pièce de résistance had to be the meal. Otherwise, it might be London, next time.
But it hadn’t, in truth, been much of a gamble.
Chef-Patron Colin McGurran has international Michelin experience and his CV includes catering for the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi.
And The Good Food Guide chose Winteringham Fields as its ‘Restaurant of the Year’
Not surprisingly, we were fed - and treated - like a King and Queen.
Colin’s haute-cuisine craftsmanship were an experience to savour.
Chef prides himself on an excellent relationship with local farmers.
Fresh fish is delivered daily from local sources, game in season from local shoots, and vegetables and herbs are grown in the restaurant’s gardens.
You don’t get more local than that!
Winteringham Fields is not just a venue for weekend one-offs. It is frequently the venue for glamorous wedding receptions.
Next Sunday, September 12, it will stage a major Wedding Exhibition, hosting the most exclusive designers in the north.
They are unlikely to have to pitch too hard for work, once visitors see the beautiful settings.
Anyone for London? Not us