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A Tour of the Cotswolds

Oh, the Cotswolds! How I love thee! Homes of honey-toned brick, rolling hills and farmland, abundant gardens, medieval stone-built towns, a place that is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Also, this is an area where I was able to trace my paternal grandmother’s family to in the 1500s. The villages have changed little since that time.

After finishing at Bletchley Park, Neil and I drove out to Bourton-on-the-Hill to our Air BnB for the night. It was in this cute garden cottage.

Mere steps away from the cottage was the charming Horse & Groom pub.

We popped in for a lovely dinner. It came with a side bowl of peas!

Adorable.

We went for a short walk before the sun went down. I thought it was clever that they are re-using these iconic red telephone booths as defibrillator stations.

I’ll take it!

A golden oolitic limestone specific to this area is what was used to build these lovely homes. The Cotswolds became prosperous in the Middle Ages thanks to the wool trade. It is thought that Cotswold translates to “sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides.”

Yes, I even found their fences ridiculously cute.

Wednesday, June 15:

I had a busy day planned for us! (What else is new?) In the morning, I wanted to take a quick tour of some areas where my ancestors had lived. First up, a grouping of houses (not even a hamlet) known as Lower and Upper Swell.

I had been carrying a Father’s day card for my Dad since we were in Vancouver. I had meant to pop it into a mailbox en route to the airport but that didn’t happen. So I threw a few English stamps on it and put it in this mailbox in Lower Swell, where his ancestor once lived. I thought that was a neat thing to do and it actually made it to him!

People here take their gardens seriously. (AS THEY SHOULD!)

One of my ongoing jokes was how, with place names, we were seeing the originals. For example, Old York, or York 1.0. On the sign below is a town named Naunton which is similar to the name of a town I grew up in. Did the name come from here? Interestingly, that is where my grandmother now lives. Coming full circle, in a sense?

Our next stop included Lower and Upper Slaughter. Slaughter is an Old English word for slough, which makes sense. Although we did see a mystery book in a gift shop titled “Slaughter in Slaughter” (someone had to do it, right?)

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of these beautiful houses. Bear with me.

A former corn mill from the 19th century.

A lovely church.

The road goes through a shallow creek, no big deal.

We grabbed brunch in Bourton-on-the-Water.

Which was 110% cute. It was all decorated for the Queen’s birthday. (“Happy 90th Ma’am”? I can’t. It’s too much).

These buildings below are not quite as polished as the other ones, and I can totally imagine it is only a few steps until I am back in history hundreds of years ago.

Not that I would mind living in one of the more polished homes, of course!

Here, we have an inescapable attraction. Flowers and Cotswold brick.

Better get another angle.

More.

Remember how I said that it is thought that Cotswold translates to “sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides”? Case in point. These are the first of many sheep we would see throughout the rest of our trip.

The curbside garden: a story in three pictures.

One.

Two.

Three!

I would go back there today if I could. We didn’t make it to Bibury, which is considered the “loveliest town in England”, but I would love to see it next time. Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton are also supposed to be super charming. For family history reasons, I would like to see Wyck Rissington in the future and Minchinhampton. Wyck Rissington is actually one of four Rissington villages: the others are Great, Little, and Upper.

If I had so many places to see in the Cotswolds, why was I forced to leave? Well, I had a really good reason. It’s coming up in the next post!

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