Get away from it all with a dog-friendly lodge staycation and a spot of golf thrown in
If you were to ask me to name four of my favourite things in life I'd say quality family time, long walks with the dog, great food and the odd round of golf now and again.
Squeeze all those things into a long relaxing weekend in the beautiful East Yorkshire countryside and it's the perfect combination.
Which is why a three-night stay in a Darwin Escapes lodge at Kilnwick Percy Resort near Pocklington was just what the doctor ordered before the hectic run-up to Christmas.
And knowing that our pet-friendly accommodation would be nestled by the side of a plush 18-hole championship golf course, it was the icing on the cake.
In fact, our bedroom gave us such a fantastic view of the ninth green I would have been happy spending the days just staring out of the window watching golfers swing by and reminding me of how great, but utterly frustrating, the game can be.
The golf was to be enjoyed later, but first it was important to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings and see what else the resort had to offer.
We were staying in a Millington Deluxe Lodge and the first thing that struck me was how modern the decor was. I'm a big fan of 'open plan' and this luxury living space provided ample room for both my wife and I and our pet whippet Snoopy.
The spacious dining kitchen had all the mod-cons including a fridge freezer, fan oven, electric hob, washing machine and dishwasher, so if you plan on self-catering you don't need to worry about manual pot-washing.
In the lounge there's a super-comfy L-shaped sofa and large wall-mounted television which was our go-to place for an evening film viewing after a day of activities.
The windows and patio doors are large and provide great views, but privacy can be maintained thanks to the cool electric blinds easily controlled by the push of a button.
Upstairs are two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and copious amounts of storage space, with the master bedroom boasting an enormous bed fit for a king.
And that's not all, as outside is a steaming hot tub which is maintained daily and provides the perfect place to wind down and enjoy a cheeky drink or two.
That is exactly what we did after a sedate afternoon dog walk along the resort's pleasant two-mile nature trail, which took us through woodland and along footpaths around the perimeter of the site. There were some muddy bits which made the walk slippery in places, but it was only to be expected with winter well on the way.
On our second evening, after staying in to enjoy the delights of a pre-purchased meal kit the night before, we opted to have dinner in the resort's Glasshouse restaurant, where we reserved a table in the dog-friendly bar area.
The menu features a range of hearty dishes ideal for hungry golfers and walkers, including steak and kidney baked suet pudding, 10oz rump and classic fish and chips, as well as a number of toasted ciabatta, pizza and burger options.
As my wife succumbed to the temptations of a 'Meat feast' pizza, I plumped for the pan roast Cumberland sausage and mash which was meaty and delicious, with the caramelised onion sauce adding a lovely sweet flavour. The pooch wasn't left out either as he was brought his own sausage which kept him entertained for a few seconds at least.
For me Sunday was golf day and after a good breakfast and peruse round the pro shop, I headed off to the first tee excited, but anxious, about how the course was going to treat me. It was also to be the first outing for my brand-new set of Cobra clubs.
And after hitting the same tree twice on the first hole, I thought it was going to be one of those days, but was heartened to learn that the course would be quite forgiving thanks to its wide-open fairways and welcoming sparsity of difficult bunkers and water hazards.
That's not to say it wasn't challenging. Far from it, as there are many tricky 'dog leg' holes, blind corners and hills to contend with, which for me making my course debut meant some lucky guessing in terms of which direction to strike.
As a true novice, just landing the ball on the fairway is an achievement so naturally I was happy on the occasions I could see my resting position.
As I drifted right on the short par-three ninth hole, it was nice to see my wife from the comfort of the lodge watch me hit towards the green. It was even nicer that, although under pressure, I didn't make a complete fool of myself as my chip shot landed a few yards from the hole.
Starting to feel weary around the 15th and as the light began to fade, I was beginning to think more about my stomach and the cheese and beer I would be consuming afterwards, but overall I was happy with the round and the seven-mile walk I had just taken.
Leaving before sunrise the next morning and aware of our sleeping neighbours, there was minimal fuss as we quietly loaded up the car before dropping the key in a box outside reception and heading home. As far as staycations go, this will go down as one of my all-time favourites.
For a stay at Darwin Escapes Kilnwick Percy Resort – Two nights minimum from £525. All accommodation with lounges and kitchens, two, three and four-bedroom options and pet-friendly available (specific lodges only).
Darwin Escapes currently operates 24 holiday resorts and three golf courses across the UK offering holiday breaks, holiday home ownership and golf breaks. Click here for more.