When I found out I was going to be spending the weekend at Sweetpea Cottage in Norfolk, I had images of a quaint, picture postcard home nestling along a tiny country lane.
It would have a cosy sitting room with a fire, a rustic kitchen and the plumpest pillows and duvets on such comfortable beds you’d feel the least you could do would be to have a lie-in. And even if the wind was howling outside, and sleet and snow were hammering at its tiny windows, you’ would feel as snug as a bug in a rug indoors.
So it would be fair to say Sweetpea Cottage was under a fair amount of pressure.
A three-and-a-half-hour journey from Maidstone, in Friday evening rush hour traffic, which included getting hopelessly lost in deepest, darkest Norfolk, meant that if it had not at least gone some way to living up to my expectations I might have been inclined to turn round and drive straight home.
So the fact that it utterly ticked every box demonstrates what a knock-out it was.
OK, it was small – you had to breathe in slightly to get around the dining room table, and my son Luke likened his small bedroom to Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs – but it really was perfectly formed.
Beautifully appointed, with sumptuous bedding and tasteful décor, Sweetpea Cottage, along a little lane in the village of Mundesley, was like a hotel with a sitting room and kitchen thrown in.
And the locals were all incredibly friendly, from the lady in the Spar who called my seven-year-old daughter “sweetheart” (making her day) to the chip shop owners who chatted on about the unseasonal snow which battered the village and beach throughout the weekend we were there.
Sadly, there was no real possibility of exploring the area, as the weather was just too poor, although I did brave the sandy beach which proved nicely sheltered once I made it down the steep steps as the gale force winds whistled past me. You could see that on a sunny day in the summer, it is probably a beautiful spot to make sandcastles and walk along the shoreline.
But to be honest, none of us minded not getting out much – all we wanted to do was curl up indoors.
Had we come in the summer, we wouldn’t have had the time to appreciate the home comforts. Sweetpea Cottage was the equivalent of a duvet day on a blustery, snowy weekend.