Maggie and I decided that we should put a careful toe in the water and own a hotel locally to see what it was like. As it happened, there was a nine-hole golf course with planning permission to build a small hotel on our doorstep, so we took hold of the concept and started work. It was all pretty straightforward to begin with, and Maggie found that she could do it and liked doing it. As the Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa rose from the ground, the nine holes became eighteen and activity commenced. Since then, the initial fifty rooms have been expanded to 115 and a very attractive wedding barn added, with Emily as the designer. It is the location of choice in this region for brides-to-be.

In one of the cyclic economic downturns, an old lodge that had been converted to a hotel became available, so of course, we bought it and then set about turning it into a five-star hotel with the French concept of “restaurant avec chambres,” the restaurant taking pride of place but with twenty-eight rooms, later increased to fifty, just in case they might be needed after dinner. The Vineyard USP was to be the prime UK watering hole for those interested in wine and particularly wine from California, with three thousand bins and a cellar comprising thirty thousand bottles. Jancis Robinson termed it a “cathedral to California,” and we lived up to that reputation. As I write this, we will be celebrating twenty-five years of the Vineyard later this evening with a well-attended party.

About now, Paul was invited to a local dinner party where he met an exceptionally beautiful English rose called Emily, the daughter of friends, and over the summers of 1995–96 courted her, culminating in a proposal where the girl said yes. We were all delighted. From then on, two important things happened: Emily started to have children, and as a couple, they operated perfectly together as one. She brought so much to our rather traditional family and livened things up enormously. She also gave birth to Elliot and Mylo, two boys born on the same date six years apart, and the first girl in the family for a while, my granddaughter, Anna, who is quite as beautiful as her mother.

Pete’s engineering skills came to the fore when building the glass wine vault.

Romain Bourger, the director of wine and beverage, was Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2019.

The hotel features outdoor dining in the Pavilion, a traditional English oak structure.