This trip all started as a surprise for Malcolm's birthday.
Malcolm is quite easy to please actually, anything to do with cars, yachts or alcohol and I know it's going to be a success.
So I knew definitely the Bombay Gin Distillery surprise trip would be a winner!
Although we don't live that far away from Laverstoke, I decided to make it more of a treat and stay a couple of nights in the vicinity.
I booked the Norton Park Hotel, in Sutton Scotney, which is a large Hotel with conference facilities, but we were lucky to stay in the Manor House which is in the grounds beside a pretty lake. It was really peaceful and away from the madding crowd.
En route to the Hotel we stopped off at Alresford, a place we visited when we first met so thought it would be nice to have a quick walk along the river. It was just as pretty as we remembered. We were greeted by several tame robins and a duck who took a fancy to Malcolm's shoes!
The following morning I had arranged for a taxi to take us to the Distillery, but to my annoyance and bitter disappointment, he failed to turn up. Consequently, with no time to wait for another taxi, Malcolm ended up driving us to the Distillery in order for us to get there in time for our guided tour!
Some things just don't go according to plan but we got over it and our day got better.
Just a little info for you. The Bombay distillery is in the repurposed mill at Laverstoke. After being empty for 10 years this 300 year old mill has been revitalised by Thomas Heatherwick. The river has been widened and the courtyard opens up on to some amazing greenhouses.
You can book a guided tour, as we did, or you can do a self guided tour. Both tours include a visit to the botanical room where the aromas will test your senses which will result in a cocktail being created to suit your tastes.
The botanical room was my favourite bit of the tour. Great fun!
We highly recommend the guided tour as the tour guides are informative and our guide had a great sense of humour.
After the tour you then get to visit the cocktail bar to collect your chosen cocktail.
When visiting the distillery take some time to pop along to Freefolks to see the longest run of thatched cottages in the country - there are 18 cottages. Built in 1939 by Portals Paper Mill for the mill workers.
The Watership Down Inn is just up the road from the distillery in Freefolks too, where we had a delicious lunch.
The Inn also does rooms at reasonable prices, but I only found that out after booking the hotel. Watership Down Inn is closer.
The sun came out in the afternoon and before our return to the hotel we thought it would be nice to go for a stroll along the river test. It is a really pretty walk, so if you have time it is well worth a walk.
So all in all, the birthday trip I can safely say was a success and the star attraction was definitely the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery.