Kathryn Fensterstock enjoys a visit to Stockbridge
Winding along the A30 bound for Stockbridge, the dips and dives through the hilly topography of the Hampshire countryside feels like a journey to the past. In addition to the twisting motorway that would be reminiscent of time travel, I am made aware of the quintessential sense of heritage in this part of the country as we come into Stockbridge. The lone high street is lined with sweet shops and pubs that might as well have a trough to leave for the horses and a carriage house round back. London never felt further away from the mind, but the drive was barely two hours long.
A brisk walk through the town and it is difficult not to browse the wares of these quaint shop fronts, whose friendly local staff emulate a style all their own through a cheery smile and upbeat greeting. Visit J. & S. Sykes and John Robinson & Sons for the best in fresh local produce, including beef hung for three weeks until blackened with maturity. Cold-smoked trout is in the shops between May and October, and be sure to sample the county’s famous floral honey.
An adventurer must always look their best, and this time of year, fashion and function are key. The Gateshead Anorak Jacket from Orvis, £45, is the perfect piece to keep out the chilly breeze wafting off the River Test. The range of short-sleeved shirts, including the Patch Madras Short Sleeve Shirt, £65, or the non-iron Pinpoint Cotton Oxford Short-Sleeve, £59, are key parts to a wardrobe that keeps you cool whilst looking smart. Pick up a pair of Persol Havana Sunglasses, also available from Orvis, to keep out the simmering English sun. Take a drive to Orchid Furniture to browse rare antiques in the refurbished barn-turned-showroom. Treasures include restored Chinese antiques and reproduced Chinese classics blended with the exclusive Mandarin and Beijing collections as well as a stunning array of table lamps, Buddhas and interiors accessories.
At this time of year, Stockbridge promises its visitors an escape from the city hustle and bustle and an opportunity to be lost in the outdoor lifestyle. Calm your mind on the riverbank with a fly-fishing lesson offered by the expertise of the Orvis team, whose shop is located on the High Street. The prestigious Kimbridge Beat on the River Test is home to Orvis, where one can get lost for hours listening to the soft zipping of the rod along the surface of the water.
When the day’s excursions begin to amp up an appetite, The Greyhound Inn is the go to destination for the freshest seasonal ingredients whipped up in a flurry of creative execution. Try the jasmine-smoked chicken with delicate wasabi mousse, or chargrilled squid with curried chickpea and chorizo. In the spirit of tradition and heritage in a quintessential British town, the sticky toffee pudding should not go ignored. Happily indulged by the local wine and sleepy from the warm evening air, a good night’s rest awaits in one of the cosy bedrooms upstairs.
The day’s adventures fill your dreams, with a promise of more discoveries tomorrow in the perfect summer destination.
American born Kate Fensterstock is based in London and is part of the team at the leading marketing company Zambuni. Follow her on Twitter at @kjfensterstock.
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