Flowerscourt

The azaleas outside are still hibernating but then you can’t blame them, it has been unseasonably cold.

But they will burst forth soon and join the early risers in an explosion of colour.

It’s warm in here though in my luxurious bath in the five-star Powercourt Hotel where there is a carpet of violet flowers strewn in front of me.

The Masters golf is on the television, square in the middle of the mirror and you won’t have to turn up the colour… Augusts National in Georgia is a kaleidoscope of rich hues.

I soak it all up. I have a 12-year-old Redbreast whiskey I have taken up from the bar by my side and I am in clover.

We have come to Powerscourt Hotel and the Powerscourt Estate to ;put a spring back in our step after being holed up for the winter.

And it there’s any extra jauntiness in our gait, it’s because we’ve got a night off dancing to to the tune of our too-demanding kids.

They have the sainted Sarah rushed off her feet on a daily basis while they put their feet up, so she jumps at the offer of a pedicure this weekend.

There’s a range of fancy treatments including a golfer’s tonic, I wonder if anyone has called down to ask for a the gin!

I head for the pool with little intention of ever jumping in. I usually bypass pools, preferring the steam rooms and saunas but this water looks so inviting, and it’s only 20m.

I manage a whole ten lengths before I go to sweat off my exertions in the steam room.

Now, as you’ll have noticed, the bathroom is my favourite room in the house.

I could spend the guts of a whole morning in mine at home.

Powerscourt’s pool bathroom is even better. It has waterfall showers to caress your and there’s no one bawling at your to get out because they got up late and have to get to work.

I’d be happy if I never had to get out but we have a golden Spring day on the Estate to enjoy so I mustn’t linger.

I pull the rope on a bucket of cold water and brace myself for the downfall.

It is exhilarating and I let out a shriek much to the amusement of the young couple headed for the pool.

Herself feels exhilarated too form her masseuse Rachel manipulating her tootsies with her magic fingers and she skips out of her spa room.

There it is, the twinkle back in her eyes, and her toes.

She’s itching to explore the gardens.

Now, there’s no shortage of outdoor pleasures to enjoy in this truly blessed corner of Co. Wicklow.

The always obliging staff at reception will organise a host of activities for you, walk or cycle in the shadow of the Great Sugarloaaf.

Or take a vigorous climb up its peak – you will b rewarded with captivating views of the Garden County and the Irish Sea where it’s said that on a clear day you can see Wales.

Or go for a gentle trot along the forest trails with Brennanstown Riding School.

In the week that’s in it though, we opt for something golf-related, related but not the actual game, obviously.

I’ve long accepted that I’ll never be a Rory McIlroy, although judged on his final round at Augusta, a few lessons up at Powerscourt Golf course might bring me that bit closer.

No, I’ve always found the fun bit about golf is the buggies and we take one out along the 6km River Walk by the winding Dargle.

I’m happy to report too that my driving was, for the most part, straight.

Here, in the sanctuary of the forest, by the banks of the Dargle, you are truly secluded from what’s going off back home, and I skim stones while Herself captures the footage on her phone for posterity of my posterior as I crouch into my throwing position.

The world moves at a gentler pace at Powerscourt, the leaves flop gently on the trees, gentle birding fills the air and we breathe it all in.

But I’m conscious that the electronic gate back through the estate might close in on us… and how would I get to watch the final round of the Masters then?

I think Herself sees through my ruse when I take her to the bar for a pre-dinner drink, Wicklow ale, of course.

I do a double-take when I check out the menu in the relaxed Sika restaurant – €55 for three courses, and wines for less than 10.

Where’s the big mark-up her that we are subjected to in other restaurants up and down the country?

The food and the service is first-class without any of the stuffiness the you can sometimes find in fancy hotels, more inclusive than exclusive.

I start with a personal favourite, risotto and inform Herself that it is is the best I’ve tasted since a risotto con pirelli (with peas) I enjoyed in Padua three years ago… a withering look pricks my pomposity.

This creation with seaweed pesto, scallop ceviche and Nastturtium leaves is light and tasty and beautifully presented and set me up for my main.

If my mum was here, and I’ve taken there to the gardens plenty of times and the house, although the hotel is a pleasure I’m saving, perhaps for her 90th birthday this year, she’d be insisting that I have the steak (‘men love steaks).

TRAVEL FACTS

WHAT IT COSTS

B&B rates vary from €210 mid- week to €270 weekends.

LATEST PACKAGE

A Treat for the Senses – From €170pp, night in the Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa. Breakfast. 3- course meal in SIKA restaurant, entry into Powerscourt Gardens. See wwwpowerscourthotel.com.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail.

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