Penny Post 2023-24 Christmas and new year quiz – the winners’ reaction after their stay at the Jack Russell in Faccombe

A phone call before 6am is usually an important one, though Brian from Penny Post wasn’t to know that we were in a completely different time zone. He graciously ignored our bleariness to tell us the good news that we’d won the 2023-24 Penny Post Christmas and New Year Prize Quiz. We were thrilled with our prize – dinner, bed and breakfast fairly close to home at the Jack Russell in Faccombe.

Mike and I chose to stay on a Friday evening and we had an absolutely lovely time. Set on the expansive Faccombe Estate (4,250 acres – think pheasants, an estate office, duck pond, deer and very few houses), it felt we’d travelled a long way from our home in Hungerford though it’s actually less than 10 miles, just the other side of Combe Gibbett. It surprised, and gratified, us to realise that you don’t have to go very far to feel as though you’ve gone on holiday.

With such a short car journey, we aimed to make the most of our weekend and so had researched a walk: parking at the Jack Russell, we did a circular one, perfect for a cold, crisp January day. Dry (and sometimes frozen) underfoot, with wonderful exhilarating views from Pilot Hill and the estate, and with the knowledge that we’d have something seriously good to look forward to when we checked in.

We were not disappointed…

A warm welcome from staff and a lovely warm pub, heated by wood pellets from the estate in their own biomass plant. We had the Jack Russell room – if fact, all the rooms are named after different dogs – it’s a hugely dog-friendly place, with a dog-visitors book, dog art, books, ornaments and, of course, some lovely, well behaved visiting dogs. Being in between dogs at present, I was a little dog broody and even more so now. Aside from the canine references, our room was super-comfortable and well fitted out: the sort of place where there are cosy bath robes and beautifully curated decor.

Fully rested after our walk, we headed to the bar and had drinks by the fire, dipping into thoughtfully placed copies of Country Life and chatting with the manager, Chris. Then it was time to eat.

The menu gave us plenty to choose from and each option was in its different way tempting. The decisions were finally made. We plumped for the satay game skewers and the beetroot and burrata dish to start with and thoroughly enjoyed them. As for our steaks, these were done exactly as we’d asked and came with a truly yummy avocado and spinach salad. This excellent dinner also had a number of lovely little culinary surprises. My personal favourite was the toasted walnuts on my beetroot starter – inspired!

A good night’s sleep was followed by breakfast. This included a lovely collection of cereals in gorgeous jars, indulgent yoghurts, fruit, breads and pastries under linen napkins. But, of course, that was only for starters as there were also all the delicious cooked items from the kitchen. We chose bacon and avocado, rather than the traditional full English, which proved to be both generous and luxurious.

After so hearty a breakfast, we had (wisely, I think) planned some exercise for the morning: so, after checking out, we did a second walk around Faccombe (as recommended on the Penny Post website) which was shorter but very enjoyable.

So to sum up, it was a wonderful stay, and a place we would wholeheartedly recommend, whether that’s for a pub lunch, a special meal or – as we were lucky enough to enjoy – a night or weekend away.

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