It’s wet, it’s windy and it’s downright wintry.
While some people may want to hide away and wait for January and February to pass, I was in need of a break.
I needed something to clear the cobwebs away and to attack my cabin fever state of sitting on the sofa watching TV that had been harboured and nurtured by the festive season and my pregnancy.
However, being pregnant and being a bit strapped for time and cash meant we needed to stick close to home, so we packed up the car and headed 30 minutes up the road to Chichester.
Now, I know that to many readers of The News Chichester is either where they call home, or where they work, or where they go to shop, but please bear with me.
We were headed for The Goodwood Hotel, nestled on the Goodwood Estate, and as you drive past Chichester and on to the estate, you can almost forget that you have only travelled up the A27.
It feels so beautiful and rural that it really is the ideal country escape – especially for those living busy city lives in Portsmouth – that’s conveniently on our doorstep.
We were checked in on a Retox Detox weekend special, which gave us the opportunity to use the hotel’s well-equipped gym and spa area.
With its indoor pool, jacuzzi and sauna, it’s obviously a well-kept secret among Chi residents as there were quite a few people attempting to burn off a few festive pounds.
Before heading to the spa to lounge by the pool with a book (pregnancy has its plus points!), while my other half worked up a sweat in the gym, we took the advice of the friendly receptionist and headed off on one of the two recommended ‘good walks’ across the estate.
Yes it was cold, and yes it was muddy, but slipping along woodland paths certainly made the most of the countryside air.
We opted for the shorter 7.5-mile walk, as the short winter’s afternoon was sliding away into evening, but only managed to cover about five miles of it.
The other walk – approximately nine miles – has been saved for another day.
We passed Goodwood Farm, the Cass Sculpture Foundation, caught glimpses of the Goodwood Racecourse and stared longingly at the grand Goodwood House.
The weekend fell a few days before my partner’s milestone 40th birthday, so to make it special I’d promised to pay for a slap-up meal in the newly-opened restaurant Farmer, Butcher, Chef with no expense spared.
This made burning all those calories exploring the countryside even more worthwhile.
The restaurant concept is sustainability, with all the meat coming from the nearby Goodwood Farm, slaughtered by the on-site butcher and then masterfully crafted by the chef, who uses every part of the animal to ensure nothing goes to waste.
And oh my, was it good. I’m not normally a fan of ox tongue, but this restaurant has it down to a fine art.
An array of goodies were brought to us as an appetiser – including battered ox tongue, crackling and smoked pheasant samosas – before we embarked on starters, then a huge beef butcher’s board.
We weren’t going to stop there and even went in for dessert – for me a simply divine apple crumble souffle – before slipping off to the hotel’s beautifully-decorated bar and snug to sit by the roaring open fire for a night cap.
As we hit the bed in our comfortable room that night, I don’t think I could have been more full. But every mouthful was just too delicious to resist.
The food matched the hotel in excellence, as every single part of the experience had been well-thought out and crafted.
There were plenty of places to just sit and relax – but on the flipside, as well as the gym and pool, there was a golf course for those who fancy taking along their clubs and getting in a bit of sport.
Plus – in keeping with the high standard already set – the breakfast was delicious and fresh, using meat from the farm.
On our way home we stopped off in Chichester for a stroll around the shops, and with its historic city centre and majestic cathedral, it was a welcome change from Portsmouth’s Commercial Road.
With recharged batteries, we concluded the weekend had been a success – we’d celebrated a special occasion, broken up the dull and dreary early months of the year and discovered a foodie paradise while blowing away a few cobwebs.
For anyone in need of a quick getaway, then it’s worth bearing in mind that Goodwood is just a short jaunt up the road. And it promises fresh air, relaxation and an excellent standard of hospitality.
The Retox Detox package costs from £130 per room including overnight accommodation in a signature room, breakfast, use of the leisure facilities, Retox/Detox treat box, 20 per cent off Waterbeach treatments when booked with package, £5 off a stretch and roll session or fitness assessment when booked with package.
Go to goodwood.com