The Ashdown Park Hotel and the Bluebell Railway, a weekend in the English countryside

I do love to get out into the English countryside. Living and working in London, my friends and I are often on the first flight off this island when we have holiday time, dreaming of luxury chalets or beach huts,  but there are plenty of wonderful places to visit here. I know I may be sounding like a Visit Britain advert but it is true and many places and events are literally an hour’s train ride away from the Big Smoke. Which is how I found myself at the picturesque manor of Ashdown Park in Sussex. I was there to attend the Sussex Food and Wine Festival at the Bluebell Railway, itself a tourist attraction in it’s own right. The Bluebell Railway is one of the last standard gauge passenger railways left in England. Back  in the day, the railway used to run from Brighton to London  but nowadays it runs steam engine train rides around the local area.  The railway even has a Pullman carriage which was part of the original Orient Express where you can take high tea on the weekends. The weekend I was there, the Ashdown Park Hotel was catering the tea in the Pullman but they have a slew of options to choose from on the regular steam train service. Whilst there, I sampled the English sparkling wines of Bolney Estate as well as a newcomer (at least to me anyway) of the local vineyard, Bluebell Vineyards. They’ve recently won a host of awards from Decanter nd tasting their sparklers, I can see why. Fresh and bright sparklers, they use chardonnay and pinot noir for their wines. They are looking to expand their production but at the moment, it’s still quite small. That evening, I had dinner at the Ashdown Park Hotel, where I was also staying. It’s a converted old manor house, built in the 1880’s) a luxurious hotel, it sits in the middle of Ashdown Forest surrounded by beautifully tended English gardens and an 18 hour golf...

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