I’ve been treated to a few beautiful sights in my travels. Sunsets painting the sky with fire in Indonesia. A thundering waterfall oasis in Thailand. Vibrant underwater kingdoms in Honduras. But as much as these memories have touched my heart and as much as I know there is so much more to discover, sometimes I catch a glimpse of a sight here in England that makes me think Dorothy had the right of it when she clicked those ruby red heels and declared, “There’s no place like home”.

The rolling hills of the English countryside are one such sight. Fifty shades of green against a cornflower sky or wild and windy beneath ominous clouds, the woodland and patchwork fields of the south west never fail to take my breath away. Sometimes there is nothing better than to pack a pair of wellies, dig out that waterproof and get the hell out of the city to pay good old Mother Nature a visit.

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However, for those of us that aren’t the happiest of campers (I’ve seen Blair Witch, I know what can happen out there), the icing on the cake of a trip to the English countryside is to play lady of the manor and embrace that Made in Chelsea experience with a touch of luxe. Here’s how to do a luxury English country weekend:

1) Rally the troops

I’m no stranger to organising a big group holiday – my 30th birthday was spent in an elegantly furnished country house with my besties, a giant hot tub and acres of peaceful, postcard-worthy greenery – the peace disturbed only by the owner’s pet peacock calling throughout the day. Miles away from the city with often patchy Wi-Fi, it was an idyllic spot to tune out of reality and enjoy a little piece of Eden with my favourite people – loved every minute.

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So, when we were kind enough to be invited by Oliver’s Travels to try out a super swanky country villa in Devon, I didn’t need to be asked twice.

A country house is the best choice when travelling with a group as it is actually surprisingly affordable – fill the house with your nearest and dearest and the average cost works out as about £40 per person, per night. Cheaper than most hotels!

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2) Embrace the country kitchen

Chuck some money in the kitty and stock up those cars with enough food and booze to feast an army – out in the country it’s likely the local shop might either a) not exist or b) open from like 1pm-3pm. That’s how they roll.

At my birthday, we were lucky enough to have one of my fave girlies in tow who literally delights in planning menus and feeding the 5,000. BBQs are always a good bet – simple to prepare, everyone can muck in making fancy salads and sides plus it’s easy to cater for all dietary requirements. And there’s always loads left over for grazing.

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If you’re not lucky enough to have a foodie friend in tow, most villa companies can help you arrange a personal chef which probably works out the same cost as going out for a slap-up meal. La Belle Assiette set up a beautiful dining table for us, covered in flowers and candles, served us a three course dinner, plied us with drinks and washed everything up. Bliss.

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3) Plan a country activity

The countryside is your oyster with this one. Be aware though that clay pigeon shooting is NOT shooting at actual pigeon-shaped statues (what a disappointment that was). Horse-riding, boating, wine tasting from experts The Winerist (which proved I know nothing about wine except how to drink it) or arranging for a yoga instructor to come and give you the ultimate class, surrounded by all that zen nature. Too pricey? There are online companies like Yoogaia where you can just stream a class and set your own timetable in true lady of leisure style.

But seriously guys, take my word for it on the hot tub – that’s a bonding enough experience for all.

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4) Explore the local area 

Get your maps out – country walks are a must. Remember what it was like to be a kid, exploring bubbling brooks and fields of lambs. Look out for foxes, rabbits and alpacas to complete that Disney-esque experience. Also, bear in mind that if the UK does one thing well, it’s cute and quirky country villages and traditional country pubs. Even the rich and famous are on board with this – Kate Moss is regularly seen at her local country pub in the Cotswolds. And, if it’s good enough for Kate…

5) Pack for all seasons

Rule number one – English weather is unpredictable. So don’t get caught out and remember your cosy jumpers, woolly socks and decent wellies as well as your swimmers. Probably something tweed too. Chuck it all in a Cath Kidston hold-all (classic country house accessories) and you’re good to go.

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All pics by Alex – follow my instagram @alexsaint13 for more! Thanks so much to Oliver’s Travels for this experience – however, all opinions are quite firmly my own.

Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.

Keep up with the Saint sisters and their adventures in Bristol, London and beyond at www.saintsonaplane.com and @saintsonaplane or Alex herself @alexsaint13

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