Believe it or not, we haven’t actually been out of London in the six months that we’ve been here (unless you’re counting the holiday trip to Russia at the beginning of January). So when a fellow London blogger pointed out a CLO trip to the Cotswolds last Sunday, we jumped on it.

And I’m so glad we did! First of all, it was great to finally meet her and be able to introduce our kids who are about the same age. And it was an absolutely gorgeous Spring day…warm and sunny…so it was just fantastic to get out.

Our first stop was the village of Bibury in Gloucestershire about 85 miles west of London. The Cotswolds area in general is famous for its yellow limestone houses and rolling hills and general cuteness. Bibury has a great example of this in a set of houses called Arlington Row. “The cottages were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. This was converted into a row of cottages for weavers in the seventeenth century.” (Wikipedia)

Famous angle of Arlington Row. (Wikipedia)

Famous view of Arlington Row. (Wikipedia)

The closest we got to Arlington Row.

The closest we got to Arlington Row.

Feeding the fish at Bibury Trout Farm.

Feeding the fish at Bibury Trout Farm.

We didn’t get much of a chance to explore the town. I believe we had 45 minutes altogether and spent at least 15 of it waiting in line for the public bathroom. After that we went over to the Bibury Trout Farm and let our son feed the fish, which he seemed to enjoy.

Then it was back on the bus and off to the next village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Here we had a whopping two hours to walk around the town and find our own lunch. The boys voted on the Motor Museum, which had lots of great cars but was SERIOUSLY musty for those with mold and mildew allergies. We then wandered over to the Windrush Garden Café for some excellent fish and chips.

The “water” in Bourton-on-the-Water is the River Windrush, and there are several footbridges across the river, which is very shallow and serene (when not flooding, I imagine). We got a few great shots since the cherry blossoms were just starting to come out. We also popped into a little antique store, and I picked up a Poole porcelain cat, which was a cute souvenir but wasn’t remotely old…I think they ceased production in 2006.

Motor museum.

Motor museum in Bourton-on-the-Water.

Footbridge over the River Windrush.

Footbridge over the River Windrush.

Then we were off to Stow-on-the-Wold. The town itself wasn’t as picturesque as the others, but it had a fantastic church called St. Edwards that was built in the 13th century (and added to over the years). My son even asked me to take a picture of the tower. I asked him why, and he said, “Because it’s so lovely!” My favourite part of it was the north door that was flanked by yew trees that seemed to be growing out of the church. Very Middle Earth. 🙂 And it has now sparked my interest in, not just the amazing cathedrals that you will find in the UK, but also in medieval parish churches.

Stow also played a role in the English Civil War. “A number of fights took place around the area, the local church of St. Edward being damaged in one such skirmish. On 21 March 1646, the Royalists, commanded by Sir Jacob Astley, were defeated at the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold, with hundreds of prisoners being confined for some time in St. Edwards.” (Wikipedia)

The north door of St. Edward's Church in Stow.

The north door of St. Edward’s Church in Stow.

Our last village was Broadway in the county of Worcestershire…a pleasant town with an old-time country atmosphere. We stopped into an artisan chocolate shop that was built in 1608 a bought some chocolate-covered raisins, liquorice shoe strings and a chocolate bar with hearts carved into it. We admired the Lygon Arms Hotel where both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell stayed before the decisive Civil War battle of Worcester in 1651 (obviously not at the same time).

We finished up our tour with a traditional cream tea and scones in the Tisanes Tea Room. Our son was getting a little overtired and hyper by this time, so even though it tasted lovely, it was a far from relaxing experience. I was only disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to check out the folly (mock tower) on the hill called Broadway Tower or the nearby medieval church of Church of St Eadburgha.

Ice cream vendor in Broadway.

Ice cream vendor in Broadway.

Broadway Tower. (Wikipedia)

Broadway Tower. (Wikipedia)

But at least we got a good taste of the Cotswolds and got out to see the countryside. London seemed a bit dirty and crowded on our way back, which incidentally took an extra 30 minutes as we sat in traffic on the motorway while they cleared an accident ahead of us. Retiring to the country in 20 years is sounding better and better. Or maybe we’ll just try for a slightly smaller post next time.

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