SOPHIE HANNAH, AUTHOR

Where is it?

Lower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire, where I own a little cottage.

Why do you go there?

My main home is in Cambridge. I live right in the city centre, which I love, but it’s very buzzy and city-ish, and Lower Mill Estate is the opposite. It’s rural and peaceful and beautiful. It’s a residential nature reserve, and I feel completely immersed in nature when I’m there.

I love the quiet and the clean country air, and the sound of all different kinds of birds and animals. It’s also full of beautiful lakes, which I love to swim in.

HeraldScotland: Lower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire. Picture: Sophie HannahLower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire. Picture: Sophie Hannah

There’s a lovely restaurant there and an amazing spa with three swimming pools and lots of treatment rooms and a gym with the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen.

How often do you go?

Whenever I have a spare two or three nights, I’m there. Sometimes I go to finish projects when I need to be alone and concentrate. When my Cambridge swimming pool was closed due to the pandemic, I swam in the lakes at Lower Mill all summer and it was sublime.

What’s your favourite memory?

Long walks with the family around the 550 acres of nature reserve, with the dog running on ahead, chasing after his ball.

Also, a particular swim in Mill Lake on a hot day, which was annoyingly cut short when some swans decided to chase me out. I think they had a baby and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to come too close.

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Other favourite memories include standing on the balcony in the middle of the night, just taking in the night and the silence, looking at the lake outside my house in the dark and seeing the lights from other houses reflected on the surface of the water.

HeraldScotland: Author Sophie Hannah. Picture: Onur PinarAuthor Sophie Hannah. Picture: Onur Pinar

How did you discover it?

My husband and I had been looking for a rural holiday home in Norfolk and nothing we saw felt quite right.

One day my husband said: “Why don’t we buy somewhere at that place that’s always advertising in the Sunday Times?” I asked him: “Which place?” He couldn’t remember the name, but he described it and I managed to track it down.

What do you take?

My favourite bath oils, comfy clothes, books and notebooks and the all-important swimming costume.

HeraldScotland: Lower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire. Picture: Sophie HannahLower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire. Picture: Sophie Hannah

What do you leave behind?

The noise and bustle of the city and some of the hurried/stressed feeling that, too often, creeps into my ordinary day-to-day life in Cambridge.

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Sum it up in five words.

Peace. Beauty. Luxury. Comfort. Joy.

What other travel spots are on your wish list?

So many places I’ve never been: St Lucia, Mauritius, Cyprus, Bermuda and Montenegro. The list is almost endless. I’ve done loads and loads of book-tour-or-festival travel in the past 20 years. In the next 20, I want to do more pure-holiday travel.

The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah, is published by Hodder & Stoughton on Thursday, £16.99