07 September 2011

The Cotswolds - Singular Experiences

Posted in Talking about . . .

Places so quaint and cute, you just want to pinch their chubby little cheeks . . .

We visited lots of villages in the 3 days, but there were some that really stood out.

Stow on the Wold is an ancient market town, but is still a busy place of business – apart from the obvious tourist industry. I don’t know what people do for a living here, but it’s possible that they farm (we walked alongside active cattle, sheep and horse farms) or they commute to larger places to work. I did see medical shingles and I guess if there are doctors in town, people must live there.

One night we ate in a pub and could see that the people in the bar all knew each other – greeting each other on entry and exit with lots of relaxed conversation - a sure sign of locals. We had a fast walk into the countryside around Stow along the public footpaths. It was lovely - people out walking with their dogs, or carrying the newspaper, or strolling along with shopping bags. Quiet, picturesque (I’m getting tired of that word, but it does the descriptive job very well), and engaging. Don’t know what kind of horses these are (there were lots of them in the paddock) – anyone?

Stow Footpath Stow Horses

(Left) Stow public footpath, (Right) Stow horses

Bourton on the Water is gorgeous and you can get a bird’s-eye view of the town by going to the model village. This is a miniature stone reproduction of the town, with substantial attention to detail. The model village is also presented within the model village, with a model village within that . . . In the photograph entitled Model within the Model, look to the left of the shed roof and you will see the model within the model within the model! Interestingly, a walk along the lanes behind the beaten track revealed lots of houses for sale – sign of the times?

Model Village Model Village in Village Model

(Left) Model Village, (Right) Model Village in Village Model (you work it out!)

Moreton in Marsh, Chipping Campden, and Broadway delivered more of the same Cotswolds enchantment. I assume that one eventually gets over the glorious visual impact of these towns but I imagine that what takes the place of enchantment is a powerful sense of place with all of the history that goes with it.

Cotswolds Enchantment

Cotswolds Enchantment

We had been urged to visit Daylesford – only a few miles outside Stow. Daylesford is an organic farm that has been going for 25 years, producing fruit and veg and meat and dairy products. The retail premises are elegantly presented with Italianate courtyard gardens, a café, and a comprehensive epicurie stocking glamorous and enticing food. There’s also a health spa and shop with beauty products and lovely clothes. The products are all gorgeous and priced accordingly.

Daylesford Entrance Daylesford Epicurie

(Left) Daylesford Entrance, (Right) Daylesford Epicurie

We also decided to visit Stratford upon Avon, while acknowledging that we weren’t going to do the tourist bit there (been there, done that). However, it seemed rude not to pay our respects to The Bard if we were in the area. Yes, it was full of tourists and tourist traps and yes, the Dirty Duck is still there, but you know what? It’s still very special to feel closer to the genius of this man, even ‘though we know just about nothing about him personally! Read Bill Bryson’s book for more about this - The World as a Stage.

Shrieve's Walk Boating on the (other) Avon
Royal Shakespeare Company and the Avon Theatre A Midsummer Night's Lamppost

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Shrieve's Walk, Boating on the (other) Avon, The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Swan Theatre, A Midsummer Night's Lamppost

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