I was recently invited along to a press day at Stable Yard, a beautiful shopping venue within the splendid grounds of the Jacobean Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.
I must admit, although it's not far from me, I haven't visited the house for years, and now with a young child I don't imagine walking around a stately home is top of her list of fun things to do.
That's why I was so impressed with Stable Yard. It's a standalone venue, which you can pop into even out of season when the house is closed. Full of boutique and independent shops, a fabulous restaurant and even their own children's farm and outdoor play area (entrance fee applies) there's something to keep everyone entertained.
Stable Yard is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am to 5.30, with free entrance and free car parking.
Stop for a coffee or meet friends for afternoon tea and delicious cakes at the Coach House Restaurant, and peruse the delights in shops such as The Oak Room which sells a range of beautiful home ware, haberdashery and gifts.
Get garden inspiration from the Burston Garden Shop, and even pick up a tasty treat for dinner from Frank the Butcher - sausages are made on site to his own recipe and I can personally vouch for them!
Stable Yard Music offers lessons, instruments as well as recording space and children's parties. There's a huge range of different specialist stores nestling in the converted buildings - a traditional sweet shop; goldsmiths; art gallery; toy shop; gift store and antique centre.
In a world where we are used to shopping in High Street chains, the unique products and personal service is very welcome. The relaxed atmosphere makes time spent here a real pleasure.
There are regular Farmers Markets and Antiques Markets at weekends and every Tuesday crafters can drop in to their sessions to pick up tips and inspiration from others.
Stable Yard is a real hidden gem, go check it out!
Disclosure: I was invited to an event and lunch. No financial reward was received and all views expressed are my own.