As surprise starters go, Bloody Mary bruschetta with balsamic glaze and an iced vodka shot surpassed expectations.
But it takes more than a quirky first course for a property to make it into Travel Gossip’s Editor’s Pick of the Week. Would everything else about our stay at Twigs & Leaves Vegan B&B, set in a converted barn apartment in the Lincolnshire countryside, be as fabulous?
I hoped so. As a Yellowbelly myself, I’d love more people to visit this part of the world – especially in the year we’re all being encouraged to holiday at home – and experience all the wonderful things this huge county has to offer.
For example, Lincoln Cathedral, standing proudly over the city, and seen from miles around, is all too often overlooked by visitors who carry on up the A1 to visit York Minister. We think ours is much more impressive.
Did you see the Red Arrows’ flypast at the G7 and the Queen’s birthday this weekend? We see them all the time in the skies, and we still catch our breath in awe as they perfect their precision flying, making heart shapes around Valentine’s Day and practising new formations.
Another catch-your-breath moment is the sheer sight of the vast Wall of Names at the International Bomber Command Centre, a permanent memorial to the 58,000 men and women who lost their lives serving or supporting Bomber Command during World War 2.
Twigs & Leaves would be a great base to visit all the above and more besides. The B&B is just a few miles south of Lincoln, in Eagle village, brilliantly positioned for lovely walks, and a great village pub.
When the owners opened the B&B in 2019, the cottage at the front of the Grade 2-listed 1850s building catered for three different guest bookings. But, with COVID restrictions, they’ve rejigged the whole set up, swapping the rear barn conversion they lived in for the front of the house, which used to be used for B&B guests. As a result, they now host one set of customers at a time with no shared facilities, meaning guests have the place to themselves.
What visitors get is a huge apartment for up to four people, with an open-plan ground floor comprising dining area for breakfast and evening meals, a snug seating area and a cosy fire side lounge. There’s also a toaster, kettle, microwave, mini fridge, plates, cutlery, glasses and complimentary tea and coffee.
A lovely wrought iron spiral staircase winds up to a gallery landing to one twin, one double and a shower room.
Guests don’t have to eat in of an evening. The owners often send visitors to the local pub, the Struggler. But we wanted to get the whole Twigs & Leaves experience, so we booked evening dinner at extra cost of a very reasonable £15pp.
A few days ahead of our arrival, chef Helen sent us some options, such as herb roasted tagliatelle, lemon fennel linguine or jackfruit enchilladas with rice and peas, but said she’d happily oblige if there was something else we preferred.
Although the desserts, including sticky toffee pudding with rum flambeed pineapple and banana in syrup, or vegan crème brulee, looked to die for, neither of us are pudding people, so we asked if we could have a starter instead.
Out came our Bloody Mary-inspired surprise to get the meal off to a great start, followed by pan fried marinated tofu fillets marinated in miso, lemon and nori, with lime and herb ‘butter’, baby potatoes, green beans and tomato jewels as a main course. We polished it off with Champagne and wine we’d brought with us.
Next morning, after a lovely sleep, we came down to find our hosts had cleared up all evidence of our previous boozy night; the table was all set up for toast, cereals and fruit ahead of the cooked meal. Even the most die-hard meat eater would’ve found the full vegan breakfast delightful. Delicious though it was, servings are generous and we couldn’t finish.
This isn’t unusual, according to Helen, who told us everyone opts for the full vegan on the first morning, but those staying longer often choose a lighter option on subsequent days.
To adapt a well-known phrase, you don’t have to be vegan to stay at Twigs & Leaves, but it helps. If you can happily forgo meat or dairy during the stay – and that means almond milk with tea and coffee and vegan spread on toast – you’d love it. We’re not vegan. But we do love great food, a nice place to relax and warm hospitality, which is exactly what we got.
Children under 13 aren’t accepted, as the upstairs has a large gallery landing and the wrought-iron spiral stairs may be tricky for little legs to navigate.
House-trained small and medium dogs, however, are allowed, at £10 per dog. There are walks straight from the property into the countryside, and nature parks a few minutes’ drive away.
1 room for two people: £110 per night
2 rooms for four people: £190 per night