Slope back to a less stressful way of life in this beautiful old cottage. Getting here is half the fun – off a minor road five miles from Monmouth, then a track, then a lane with grass in the middle (great for cleaning your car’s bottom) and a gate to open. Then… a house that’s straight out of a fairy tale: ferns on stone roofs, flagstone floors, ancient oak, art, interesting books, furniture that’s been in the family for decades, wood-burners to curl up by. The kitchen has an oven and two hobs (one run on bottled gas), big table and a dresser of pretty china. Up steep stairs find characterful bedrooms and bathrooms; children will love the attic rooms. The garden was created over 30 years and plants were chosen for colour, scent and wildlife: honeysuckle, roses and jasmine clamber up old walls, there’s a pond edged with gunnera, fig and fruit trees, cottagey borders with irises, peonies, knautia, masses of geraniums; pick berries for your breakfast, eat at a slate table by espaliered pears with glorious views over hills, ponder on the bench in a tiny walled garden, spot swooping bats and swallows, buzzards… and the amazing stars. The barn has indoor games; bring wellies, let children run wild – and don’t forget to stroke the resident cats.