Monthly Archives: October 2013

England, Day One & Two – Travel Day, Guildford, The Cotswolds

Friday, May 17

Today was a travel day. We packed up and tidied the apartment then headed for the Kensington Underground station to pick up our rental car from Hertz. Neither of us minded leaving London, I think, and we were looking forward to a change from the crowds and urban environment.

After a very long afternoon of driving – most of which was spent just trying to get out of London – turns out they have rush hour, too, duh – we finally reached Guildford to the southwest of London. We stopped in the town to get some food and a map. They have a nice high street that is a pedestrian zone. We couldn’t find a bookstore and stopped to ask a police officer – who turned out to be from New Jersey! We chatted for a few moments while he and Jim compared career and retirement notes and then he directed us to a Waterstone’s around the corner.

We bought a map for Oxford and a road atlas and then headed to the Asperion Guesthouse. We got checked in and had a little supper and an early night.

Saturday, May 18

We checked out of the Asperion (with friendly and solicitous staff but a truly awful bed) and started our tour of The Cotswolds, the picture postcard area of rural southern England – stone cottages, thatched roofs, lovely gardens and fields bounded by dry stone walls.

We stopped for an early lunch at The Castle at Doddington, a traditional British pub. In the parking lot was a 1939 Austin Cambridge.

1939 Austin Cambridge

What fun that would be to drive through some of the Cotswolds towns but we were comfortable in our our functional Skoda Octavia.

Left-hand driving

Jim volunteered to do the driving and I did my best to navigate. Between left-hand driving and unfamiliar traffic markings, both jobs required some patience and concentration.

We explored the area for the rest of the afternoon. We saw beautiful but funky-smelling fields of rapeseed.

Rapeseed fields

Rapeseed Fields 2

We stopped in Fairford and enjoyed a break from driving. The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is a wool church built in 1497. Wool churches were built using the wealth of the medieval wool trade.

Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

It has some great gargoyles.

Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin    Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin     Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

Technically they are grotesques, I suppose, since they are decorative and not rain spouts. Interesting factoid from Cornell University: “The word, gargoyle, derives from the French gargouille, or throat, from which the verb, to gargle, also originates.”

The church also has the only complete set of late medieval glass in a parish church in the country.

Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin     Paris Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

Arkell’s has a pub and hotel in Fairford, The Bull Hotel.

The Bull Hotel

The Bull Hotel Country Music

I wish we could have stuck around. I love the idea of enjoying some British ale in a beautiful old stone hotel in rural England while listening to twangy country music.

We went on our way, driving some tiny roads with pretty scenery. We saw a herd of cattle with this Charolais calf and his Hereford pal,

Parkland Calf and PalA pheasant cock and hen,

A Pheasant Cock and Hen And a handsome hare who watched us carefully before dashing off.A Hare in an English Pasture

We found our way to our lodging for the next two nights, The Angel at Burford, a sixteenth-century coaching inn. It was a great old building with a pub and breakfast room on the ground floor and three rooms upstairs. It was interesting to see modern upgrades like the bathroom incorporated with the older stone and timber and sloping floors. You can find more photos here. (We stayed in the room with the red bedspread.)

The Angel at Burford

There was a cute little Mini parked nearby. That might have been fun for me to drive around the tiny rural roads but not so much for tall people like Jim.

Cotswolds Mini

Burford was interesting to explore. We found the great Mad Hatter Books,

Hats and Books in Burford

Hats and books. What more do we need?

We wandered around the St John the Baptist Church and found a plaque commemorating the the Banbury Muntiny, a mutiny in 1649 by soldiers under Oliver Cromwell over unpaid salaries and politics.

Three Levellers Placque

 We happened to be in town on Levellers Day and saw these bouquets left at the site.

Three Levellers Flowers 1     Three Levellers Flowers 2

We stopped for supper at The Cotswolds Arms. Jim had a steak and ale pie and a Guinness. I tried the spinach and mushroom risotto which was just okay but the accompanying Green Goblin Cider was quite good and had a great label.

Green Goblin Cider

Next time on SLWS, Winchcombe, Broadway, Chipping Campden and Stow-On-The-Wold.

England, Day Three – Winchcombe, Broadway, Chipping Campden, Stow-On-The-Wold

Sunday, May 19

Today, we visited a few more towns in the Cotswolds district. We started in Winchcombe. It was Sunday morning so there weren’t too many people up about yet.

Winchcombe

We did run into a tour bus driver hanging out waiting for his tour group. He was very chatty and we talked for about thirty minutes. He asked lots of questions to try and get a handle on the geography of the United States from the snippets he’d heard of – New York, the Amish, Los Angeles. When Jim told him he was a retired police officer, he was very interested in talking Americans and guns. He was amazed that police shootings are not as common as he thought. He had the idea that police were more like cowboys in the old West and ran around having shootouts every day and it took some doing to convince him otherwise. It was interesting hearing his take on things.

I, on the other hand, was surprised to learn just how phobic he seemed to be about guns. I knew handguns were not at all common in the UK but I didn’t realize even long guns for hunting were verboten.

We passed a pretty stone building that turned out to be the local police station.

Winchcombe Police Station

And a gate to Winchcombe Parish Hall.

Winchcombe Parish Hall

We drove on to Broadway and saw more of the yellow limestone that used all over the Cotswolds. We saw a lot of wisteria growing in the area and I loved the colors against the warm yellow. This very old one stretched across two buildings from an enormous trunk.

Wisteria and Yellow Stone

We wandered through some of the shops along the High Street. I couldn’t resist stopping in the Broadway Cookshop. I’d been hoping to find a traditional British pudding mold but decided it’d be too hard to get crockery home in one piece. Instead, I bought a great red and white polka dot apron made in Norwich, England.

We stopped for lunch at the Horse and Hound Pub.

Horse and House Pub

Horse and Hound

Here Jim is about to enjoy a traditional Sunday roast of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and roast veggies and Hook Norton Brewery Hooky Bitters.

Sunday Roast

Funnily enough, we didn’t see as many thatched roof cottages as I expected. We finally found a few towards the end of the day in Chipping Campden. This one is a rental and is called The Thatched Cottage. Oh, how we are laughing.

The Thatched Cottage

We passed another thatched roof house with what looked like a hedge sculpted into a large chick.

Thatched Roof House Chipping Campden

British writer Graham Greene lived in this decorative house from 1931 to 1933.

Thatched Roof House Graham Greene

We finished up our day in Stow-On-The-Wold. The service at the Parish Church of St Edward was about to begin so we just walked around outside. I love the yew trees that have almost become part of the doorway.

Parish Church of St Edward

The church had quite a few weathered gargoyles.

Parish Church of St Edward     Parish Church of St Edward

We drove back to Burford and planned our next day’s trip to the Uffington White Horse.