Painswick Court, The Cotswolds

The Court House
In an impossibly pretty village perched in a picturesque valley along the Cotswolds Way stands The Court House Manor. Carved out of honey-coloured Cotswold stone and saturated with history from the musket hole in the Game of Thrones-style oak door and the original panels in the old court room to the ghosts (King Charles I and his armoured guards if you’re wondering)  that wander the manicured gardens after dark, The Court House is all quiet elegance and pure escapism.
The new owners might have given the old place a facelift with a gleaming kitchen, sauna and cinema room and the Maharajah TV tent on the terrace but this bed and breakfast has what the weekend, country traveller craves in spades: luxurious bedrooms, period features and enough nooks, crannies and secret corridors to keep the average couple entertained for hours. All rise who fancy a retreat at this manor, I know I’m certainly guilty as charged.

Užupis, Vilnius

The Mermaid

If you wander across the bridge of rusted padlocks just off one of the main streets in Vilnius, you’ll find yourself quite literally in another city: Užupis. This self-appointed mini city has its own flag, currency, president and constitution and has become something of a Baltic Montmartre with its own enclave of artists, bohemians and creatives.

Uzupis Bridge

Užupis is a million miles away from the grandeur of the old town, it’s teeming with crumbling colonial houses, graffiti, sturdy beer bars and natty galleries and home to two of Vilnius’ most eye-catching sculptures: Romas Vilciauskas’ Užupis Mermaid (which you can spot on the river bank next to portraits of Vilnius’ most famous tramps) and Angel.

The Tramp's Gallery

We climbed past the park swarming with pigeons and the little supermarket selling bread to locals to Restoranas TORES, a shabby chic restaurant decked out in dark wood and murals with hearty portions and panoramic terrace views that sweep along the breadth of the Lithuanian countryside.


The Constitution


No visit to Užupis would be complete without a visit to the constitution placards, which detail how the residents should live their lives with handy laws like ‘Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation’ and ‘A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.