Romjul by the river Nene

That time between Christmas and New Year, then. The office is shut, no one is emailing you with work and you have seven boxes of mince pies to eat your way through. What to call this lazy twilight of the year? ‘Twixtmas’? ‘Romjul’? ‘The Fallow’? ‘The Endless’?

We went with ‘Romjul’, just because it summed up what we wanted out of these few days away – mooching about, planning our 2019. Plus eating lots of Chocolate Orange segments and drinking up the last of the Christmas Day prosecco, somewhere quiet and pretty and away from it all.

We chose to spend our Romjul in a little corner of England between Peterborough and Kettering. It’s a peaceful area, split in two by the river Nene wending its way to the Wash. Glorious chocolate-box villages make you think you’re in the Cotswolds, not Cambridgeshire. The skies are huge, the landscape windswept and wild. Pubs are cosy, with log fires and real ales to drink. It’s only a couple of hours from London by car. You’d be mad not to spend your Romjul (or any other time of the year) here.

what to do…

We took a wander around Stamford, one of those picture-perfect market towns full of quirky shops, independent restaurants and enough history to keep it interesting. Check out the grave of Daniel Lambert, once the heaviest man in England, in St Martin’s churchyard (it took 20 men to bury his huge coffin, fact fans).

Or if you’re into walking, Christopher Somerville has written up a fantastic 8.5-mile walk here – taking you through the historical village of Fotheringhay, where Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded. The windswept motte where Fotheringhay Castle once stood is eerie enough to make you feel haunted by the queen’s ghost… (watch out for the closed footbridge over the Nene at the start of the walk, you have to find an alternative route over the river).

Where to stay…

We chilled out at The Arc, a rustic cabin set on the banks of the river Nene. The wooden floors and woodburning stove are offset by the freestanding bath and wonderfully soft bed, while the books and crafting supplies offered by the owner are enough to keep you busy for days. It’s a stone’s throw from Elton village and you can book it here.

Where to eat…

We had lunch at Cloisters in Stamford, a wonderful Italian serving up excellent food at incredibly reasonable prices. The staff were lovely too.

The Crown Inn in Elton is a grand old English pub, with a wonderful menu and some serious ales on tap.

Or there’s the Falcon Inn at Fotheringhay, another example of a fine pub with good food and an idyllic garden for sunny summer days.

Where to shop…

Attic of Stamford – a beautifully curated women’s clothing shop with a gorgeous line of designer and non-designer wares.