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Celebrate your birthday the best way - our team's own picks for spectacular occasions

Our owners have seen almost every celebration there is under the sun, from babymoons, to proposals to exam results – but the most common, of course, is the humble birthday. Our team is often out inspecting spaces on the road, and when they’re not at work, they’re… still out on the road. For his 30th Birthday, we asked Jem what he got up to at The Carn in Herefordshire, with his two friends Ben and Davide.

Day 1

The first thing you gravitate to here, and most of our spaces, is the incredible views. They tend to knock the conversation out of you for a couple of minutes. Once we got over the incredible panorama, despite there being a lot to tempt us, a stunning spa-like bathroom and an outdoor bath and shower to die for, it was hard to ignore the pine forests that fringed the view from the front deck. With an hour or so of daylight left, we couldn’t help but set off on a walk almost immediately and check out the locale. We headed up to the unnamed wood round the corner and took a stroll through the old pathways, following an OS Map (a real paper one!), and came to a clearing where the nearest hill looked rather amazing in the last of the sunlight, and we got a better sense of our space in the valley.

Back at the cabin, we took to the hob, and reheated the dinner we brought in a cool bag, caught up after a long few years apart – thanks to the pandemic. After dinner, desert was a bottle of red, and a tense board game that tested the limits of friendships, and the rules of Trivial Pursuit. We stayed up until the early hours, until all anyone could hear (were anyone remotely near) would be wood burner crackle, and the hum of late-night conversation punctuated with hearty laughs.

Day 2

When was the last time you ate breakfast outside? Chances are, it wasn’t recently. At The Carn, come rain or shine, you’ll find yourself out on the deck watching the weather do, well, whatever it’s doing as you eat. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the view we did, the distant pine forest in the early autumn sun, still warm enough to eat outside in a tee shirt. We loaded up on protein (you can justify almost any food when you’re heading out to climb a mountain – amazing fringe benefit), packed up the car and headed to Waun Fach, the highest point of The Black Mountains (The Brecon Beacons) – just under an hour away.

Each stage of the ascent hides the next ascent, and if you’re wise, you keep your head down to avoid looking at it. There’s a cairn at the plateau a kilometre away from the peak of Waun Fach, where we stopped for lunch and by the time the food was unwrapped, local planes towing gliders started circling above our heads – so close you could have thrown a rock at them, and they bucked their wings to watch us as we watched them. We hit the summit after lunch, admired the views, and began the long descent back to the car, all proud of our very first mountain climb.

Once we arrived home, you’d think with the blistered feet, and wobbly mountain legs, we’d succumb to a long lie down and wine with a straw. But something about the sense of achievement gives you a second wind, and we headed immediately out to the local town of Presteigne to find out a little more about it. Just a two mile walk across the fields, we found a surprisingly bustling night life. The locals had vintage cars from the 1920s-1960s littered by the roadside for a nearby ‘trial’ race, which would see contestants attempt to make wildly-unsuited-for-the-purpose vehicles climb extremely steep hills. Competitors huddled down the streets in reams, popping from venue to venue in good cheer and extreme pride, with one telling us:

‘Well, no, they don’t have seatbelts – which is a good thing, because ideally if there’s any issue, you want to be thrown from the car. Getting trapped is worse.’

We tried out the local ales in the local pubs, wandered the streets amongst the revellers, and settled on Daphne’s, a local stone baked pizza joint (and inexplicably the second Italian restaurant in Presteigne). With the restaurant filled to the brim, but takeaway available until 10pm, we wandered back, somewhat wobblier, pizzas in hand to The Carn, and dined like kings, fireside.

Day 3

Whether it was the fresh air, the local ales or the food, we woke up with enough energy for another adventure, heading out to Water-Break-its-Neck half an hour away. It took quite a while to locate, and we spent most of it circling the forest as it begun changing to its autumn hues. Eventually, we found it, and due to the lack of recent rainfall, it was a little less Water-Break-its-Neck, and a little more Water-Sprains-its-Elbow – though a gorgeous miniature valley to wander down, surrounded by trees of all varieties.

As the tiredness set in, we headed home, via a farm shop, bringing back Angus beef steaks (grown locally), to fry up at home as a last evening meal together. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a better steak.

Day 4

Breakfast was hasty as we tidied up and readied the cabin for the owners to clean. Despite being ready to go on the hour, we left a few minutes late, just trying to imprint the view on our mind’s eye for as long as possible. We headed to nearby Knighton to drop off Ben at the train station, stopping to tour the town, take a look over at the Offa’s Dyke centre and the park that sits in the shadow of Offa.

After dropping Ben off at the station, Davide and I decided to hit Hay-on-Wye on the way home, arriving in the early afternoon on a Monday, as the town quietly went about its day entertaining little batches of tourists with itchy feet. Though the population of the town is small, around 1.5k, and it’s set up around two things, books, and hospitality. There are more bookshops here per person than anywhere in the world, and even multiple outlets of the same company, despite the whole town only being around 2km across. Similar to Glastonbury or Frome in England, it’s a town full of creatives, foodies and wild wanderers – with incredible restaurants, cafes, bookshops and art supply shops, as well as some incredibly well stocked camping stores. Even just sauntering in and out of the shops here is an exercise in chilling out, smelling old oak roofbeams, musty second hand books and even spotting the transported remains of a Transylvanian church inside Addyman’s (second) bookshop.

On the way home, we whipped past the last of the Welsh hills on the A479, that weaves through the east section of the Brecon Beacons, and started googling house prices in the region immediately.