Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Cotswold

Jon and I were looking for a quintessential English getaway for his birthday weekend. We were told by several people that we should head down to the Cotswold and they were absolutely right. Driving there we commented about how THIS was the England that we really wanted to see. The roads were tiny, one lane really, and the trees joined together from either side of the road at the tops to make a beautiful canopy as we drove. There were little cottages with thatched roofs and loads of country charm. It was all incredibly beautiful. I ended up taking over 800 photos, yes, 800. Only going to post a small portion here, but will do so in several posts, so that you can get a good sampling of them.

The town we stayed in was Cirencester, which is considered the capital of the Cotswold. The Cotswold are even more famous because of the ancient Roman ruins there, and Cirencester was once Corinium, a Roman town. The Cotswold became wealthy because of the wool trade there, and you can still see evidence of this while traveling around seeing all the sheep grazing on the hillsides. The B&B we stayed at was also called The Corinium and had a fantastic breakfast that we enjoyed each morning with good strong coffee and awesome fresh, hot croissants.

Our first day there we just explored Cirencester, which turned out to be my favorite of all the places we visited. It has lots of winding, narrow roads, with buildings right on the sidewalk. It also had a big beautiful parish church of St. John Baptist. The church was so old, so historical, and had been added on by other churches, and had such gorgeous architecture, it was truly awe inspiring. Behind St. John Baptist was the remains of the abbey that had been reclaimed by Henry VIII, and then a beautiful park, that was enormous. We found this fabulous little italian restaurant tucked away behind some building and had a GREAT lunch. The kids got pizza, and it was one of the best pizzas we've had while in the UK.

The next day we went down to Bourton on the Water on a tip from someone else. Admittedly we were a little disappointed. It was truly tourist central (us included) and there were just too many people. We saw the miniature village, and looked for affordable pottery. We did end up having our first official cream tea and we let the kids get into the shallow little river that we assume is the water within Bourton on the Water.

After that, we decided that we wanted to do something for the kids and so we headed to the Cotswold Animal Farm. They had a blast and it was a lot of fun watching the kids enjoy themselves. We fed goats and sheep, bunnies and cows. We did a trim trail, the kids played on a jumpy pillow and they also got to hold a baby duckling and some guinea pigs.

The next day after we looked in every charity shop in Cirencester to see if we could find a little tea set for me, we left and drove through Barnsley. Barnsley is beautiful, and exactly what you think a quaint English countryside should look like. After Barnsley we drove into Bibury, which I had commented to Jon on the way to Cirencester I would very much like to go back to and photograph. We went to the trout farm there and were surprised by the beauty of it all. We decided that when my parents come to visit in September, we might take them back to the trout farm so that Joe and Joci can fish with them, and more importantly, so Grandpa can clean and cook the trout. We took a lovely little walk around Bibury, down Arlington Row, and back around. We even were able to feed some big cows at the end of the pasture. Bibury is so beautiful, it reminds me a lot of the movie The Holiday, and the cottage that Kate Winslet's character lived in. Love that movie, by the way.

After that it was time for home, and some of the worst traffic we've faced on the way.
Hope you enjoy the pics.

The entrance from the street into our hotel where the Cirencester map is mounted on the wall.
Cecily Hill where they always have hanging baskets of flowers leading up to Cirencester park which is right next to a huge manor house.

So, I've been looking for a Kitchenaid mixer, I miss mine in the US so much, so when we saw these, I had a big smile on my face until I found out how much they were. 420 British pounds, uh, no thanks.
Along the river walk, we saw this neat door, a duck on his nest, and a sweet horse that let us pet him.

Loved this sign. Yes, it's above a bunch of trash cans in an alley, but I thought it was VERY English and so proper. I suppose only serious tipping is allowed.

Part of the original Roman wall. This was behind the St. John Baptist church in the massive park.


Brandi said...

What a fantastic place! You are inspiring me. My husband has been talking about doing some type of trade with someone in Europe (they stay/work in our house for a few months while we stay/work in theirs). I'm feeling like maybe this is something we NEED to try!

Luke and Hailie Girl said...

Great pics!

Biscuits 'N Gravy said...

Brandi, you should go for it! It's been the best thing we've ever done.