ALTHOUGH Christmas and the festive season are full of fun, the run up can feel bleak.

With summer over and nights drawing in, it’s easy to feel like your everyday life is monotonous or to become weighed down by it.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to have one last weekend away before the end of 2019, when I was invited to stay in one of the luxury holiday cottages owned by Barsham Barns.

The cottages and barns are based in the Norfolk village of North Barsham, which is pretty and very quiet.

The barns – there are six – can sleep anywhere from four to 14 people, so we were expecting to be in a small and cozy cottage.

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But small did not come into it. Despite going for a four-person sleeper and staying in the smallest of the properties, Little Barsham, it was huge.

Historically, Little Barsham had been used for rearing lambs and sheltering sheep.

Exposed brickwork, beams and stone floors worked well in the light and airy space as well as being a nod to the origins of the barn, which had an open-plan living room and dining area, kitchen, two double bedrooms with ensuites and a separate bathroom.

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We arrived late on a Thursday night in November – think dark and dreary – but soon felt cosy and right at home when we lit the log-burning stove and settled in on the two huge sofas.

Although we had some problems getting the heating going (most likely user error!), the team at Barsham had someone out to look at it for us within 10 minutes of my email, and the barn was soon lovely and warm thanks to underfloor heating throughout.

We nabbed the four poster bed and had one of the best night’s sleep I can remember for months.

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The next morning brought a cold but bright winter’s day, and the views from the living room across fields to All Saints Church were beautiful. There is something especially comforting about looking out on a frosty landscape when you’re warm and tucked away inside.

The barn itself had everything you could need for a self-contained weekend away. As much as I’d like to tell you all I used the opportunity to have a digital detox and spent the time reading or being productive, the barn’s wireless internet and the television were both appreciated...

A cupboard full of board games had also been provided, which made for a pleasant evening after a hearty dinner cooked at the barn.

There are also entertainment facilities provided shared by all the barns at Barsham. Games rooms with table tennis and football were on offer, and I’m sure would be appreciated by those with a slightly sportier inclination than I possess.

Much more up my alley was the spa room. This was available to be booked in hour-long slots throughout the day between 9am and 9pm by each individual barn.

It was a really nice addition to what would already have been an excellent stay to be able to use the spa pool (which was huge and seats 10 people) and steam room.

We could have quite happily spent all four days of our stay relaxing around the barn, but decided to venture out and see some of Norfolk.

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The barns are only a few miles from the Norfolk coast, so we headed on a coastal walk in Blakeney for some seal-spotting (which was unsuccessful) and to Cromer to sample some local crab.

We used the time to recharge, but had we wanted some more activity to keep us going, Barsham Barns provides a packed folder full of local attractions, restaurants, sites of interest and things to do, as well as contact numbers.

Although we kept our group small, the barns would be an excellent place for larger gatherings, be it for a birthday, wedding, or just an excuse to catch up with your nearest and dearest, as all together, the six barns can sleep up to 52 people.

The trip did exactly what we hoped it would, and we came away feeling refreshed, if somewhat sad to leave.

We’re already thinking about returning in slightly warmer weather to make better use of the gardens and lighter evenings.