The Art Of Living

Last week was an absolute blast. Having finally got home from Scotland (a two day storm meant we were stuck on the island for a little longer than planned) we had a very quick turn around to join the Quintessentially lifestyle team for two days of adventure as part of Aston Martin Lagonda's new Art of Living experiences.

I'm no car expert, but I like fast and good looking ones. Aston Martin is one of those brands every one knows, every one associates with luxury but yet few actually get the chance to drive one. So when we were invited to do just that and be some of the first people in the world to drive their new DB11 it was an instant yes (and I never need buy G a Christmas present ever again...).

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We arrived at their head office for a tour of the factory which really was fascinating. I had no idea how intricate the processes are when building a car, and Aston Martin really let the car owner get involved - they can come in and see their car being built and are notified when the car is at each stage of development.

It was really apparent that they are a "quality over quantity" brand - with only 85,000 car ever made in the last 104 years (90% of which are still on the road) which is the same as other car manufacturers you might otherwise put alongside AM produce in 6 months... Having learned all of this, I could hear the DB11s being revved up outside and I was itching to get in and give it a go...

I really wish I was better at describing how it felt to drive, other than just saying "OMG it's unreal." Other words that could just about work include: incredible, unbelievable, brilliant... You get the drift. I've been in some nice cars in my time, but this one really is on a new level.

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We drove in pairs across the Cotswolds with routes carefully planned out so we got a real sense of the car's performance, stopping for lunch at Cowley Manor before driving on to our home for the night, newly refurbished hotel, The Painswick. This place was my kind of hotel; boutique feel with very cool interiors, good sheets, excellent bath stuff (I'm a stickler for this, it was all Neom Organics which is one of my favourite brands). Their veranda (above) felt like it was in Italy, so beautiful!

After a great dinner with the group it was straight to bed to get up bright and early for day two. We drove back to Aston Martin Lagonda HQ through some gorgeous villages like Bourton on the Water and Stow on the Wold (stopping to take a few pictures with Lucy and Etienne) before a morning discovering how every Aston Martin design starts off it's life in clay.

We met the man behind it (John) who was so interesting, and it was great to meet someone clearly so in love with what he does for a living. The craftsmanship involved was incredible, and it was almost relieving to know that in this day and age some skills are required away from a computer to make something like an Aston Martin.

A few hours later, having all failed miserably at trying to craft a car from clay, we reluctantly left to go back to London. If you're looking to treat yourself or someone you know to a unique experience, do this. Just do it. I can't put into words the feeling of driving a car like that, and I'm now itching to do it again. Aston Martin now do all kinds of exciting trips around the world as part of the Art of Living series; check them out here
Thank you to Quintessentially, Aston Martin and The Painswick for a brilliant couple of days.  Rooms at The Painswick start at £149pp, book here (and do, it's awesome).

Photos taken using an Olympus PEN EP-L7 from John Lewis here and the 45mm lens here.

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