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Cotswolds 4 Day Break from Oxford

Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
We’ve returned from another wonderful stay at The Bolt Hole in Minchinhampton, Southern Cotswolds. We arrived in style. Although we had ordered a compact car from Hertz, we ended up with a bright red Nissan SUV equipped with all the electric gadgetry you could possibly want and then some. In addition, it was a walking advertisement for a Nissan sponsored football league, The Champions. A far cry from what we had ordered but I think Ron was secretly pleased. However, the constant beeping and warnings did get on our nerves after a while. Ron just checked and this was their high end model and brand new. We were charged £77 for 4 days. Same as for the compact.

We arrived in Saperton, a sweet village, and had lunch at The Bell. We love eating in local pubs. During a previous long stay in 1991 when we only ate in pubs. We did a house exchange and all we had was an old edition of The Good Pub Guide. It was a marvelous experience and this is proving to be one as well. We can read The Good Pub Guide online and now we have so many more resources to draw on. On our last trip, about 3 years ago, we focused on gastro pubs. This time we just want decent food, a historical building and convivial atmosphere

The Bell was great. Now Wow! But good enough. Ron seems to think it his duty to try a meat pie in every pub. I am more restrained in my choices. One thing we have gotten into is ordering a ½ pint of local beer or ale with a meal. This is definitely not something I would ever do back home as too filling. But somehow, feels right here.

Once settled in our lovely cottage, we took off for Nailsworth. We had only been briefly before. What a busy little place. We walked the length and breadth. It kind of grows on you. We stocked up on provisions for a light dinner. We were tempted to eat at Thyme and Garlic a lovely looking restaurant but decided against.

On Thursday we wanted to stay local so did a 5 mile circular walk around Minch. It took us over fields, into woods, along ridges with fab views and of course, through the Commons. Our cottage has a binder with suggested walks as well as several books. This one was very enjoyable with pleasing variations in topography. I had worried that we would just be walking along the Commons which can be boring after a while.

That evening after much debate, we chose The Crown Inn in Frampton Mansell, a nearby village. We were glad we did. It was filled with locals enjoying a brew or 2. Some were quite chatty and gave us advice on best pubs in the area. Of course, The Crown came up on top. It is a lovely place. Situated in a 17c building with wonderful views. As it was getting dark couldn’t see much but did manage a glimpse of cows on the hill across the road. Ron had his usual meat pie and I had a vegetarian concoction.

Friday was the highlight of the 4 days. We got to meet folks I had known only through postings on this and other travel sites. Pauline took us on a fantastic walk. This was quintessential Cotswold landscape of woodlands, fields and fantastic views that seemed to go on forever.

Afterwards we met Jonathan and Steve for lunch at The Butchers Arms in Sheepscombe. If I’m nothing but superlatives, well, that’s how I feel. We adored the drive along the narrowest of roads lined with the ubiquitous hedgerows. Had to back up a few times. When we arrived at this tiny out post (or so it seemed), it was packed. It was great to meet and chat with folks I’ve come to know only through their helpful posts. It was great


The next day, we decided to head for Chipping Campden, the honeypot of the Cotswolds in the north. We’ve been to Chipping C several times and haven’t understood all the fuss. It’s pretty enough and in a beautiful setting but I prefer something less manicured like Stroud ,for example. En route we stopped in Northleach unaware that this is the setting for the TV version of JK Rowling’s novel, The Casual Vacancy. It seemed pretty ordinary. A working town. However, at the church, we met the local vicar who suggested we visit Hamptnet village as their little church was a wonder. And it was. Very tiny and simple. Dates from 1200s of course but a vicar in the mid-1800s had stenciled it all over in art deco motifs and it looked pretty special. I don’t usually visit churches or cathedrals. But I do love these simple, unadorned ones in the villages dating back to the 1200 or before. And they can trace their vicars back to the beginning. How utterly amazing.

We ended up quite liking Chipping C this time around. It’s big enough to accommodate the various souvenir and trinket shops. It has some pretty high end shops as one would expect of an area that houses the rich and famous. We had lunch at Eight Bells just off the High Street. This is a lovely, popular and unpretentious pub that has been in the same family for generations. When we have visitors from home at the end of the month, we will take them here. Ron diverged from meat pies and we both had sandwiches. After a preamble up the High Street, we went to Huxley’s for a coffee. It is an Italian restaurant again a lovely setting. We sat by a roaring fireplace sipping our caps feeling quite contented with ourselves. Before leaving Chipping C, we checked out the Robert Welch knife store. I had only read about it recently on TA but wow, so much more than a knife store. I had to pull Ron away from making an extravagant purchase. But as we are returning, I think he will buy a set of cheese knives. All very beautiful. If you haven’t been than you should check it out.

Sunday we sadly left our cottage quite early (we probably won’t return as our time is flying away). Pauline had suggested driving to Burford and doing a walk through the Windrush Valley and along the river. We managed to get a little map at the tourist office which surprisingly was open. And we were off. Another wonderful walk. Over stiles, along a dry river bed, through open fields and to the tiny Widford, St Oswald’s church. It is beautifully situated in an idyllic rural Cotswold setting. We continued on to Swinbrook, ancestral home to the famous or should I say infamous Mitford sisters. They are buried in the local church yard along with Oswald Mosley, former head of the British Fascist party and husband to Diana, both jailed during the 2nd world war.

Afterward, we thought we’d give the Swan Inn up the road a try. As it was Sunday lunch, an extremely busy time for pubs, we didn’t think we’d get in but we managed to get a seat. This pub was a pleasant surprise. I knew nothing about it unlike the other ones I had researched in detail. It was very busy with multiple rooms and fires burning in several grates. It had a good menu with enough choices that one did not have to order the Sunday roast. Ron however, did just that while I had a delicious pea soup with chunks of ham and a lovely beet and goat cheese salad. Service was great. Honestly, I do find service in England very good. The pub is in a fantastic setting right by the river and the foot path.

I find it interesting that pictures of the Mitfords were everywhere. And people make pilgrimages to their graves. Honestly, they weren’t on the whole, very nice people. Racist, classist, anti-Semitic etc. Except for 1, Nancy or was it Jessica was a communist.

We walked back following The Windrush River and before you knew it we were back in Burford. After a walk through, we agreed while the setting was spectacular, we didn’t like the town. It felt like a chocolate box town, very pretty but nothing to it except high end clothing, trinket and souvenir shops. None of the crowded pubs or tea rooms looked worth patronising.

We decided we preferred Chipping C but ultimately the South Cotswolds.
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
You didn't like Burford?? I love Burford! The way that high street spills down the hill to the River Windrush. The one lane medieval bridge across the river. The variety of styles of architecture on the high street.

The Swan was owned by the last surviving Mitford sister who died recently. We were there a couple of years ago and the food was really good.

I find it interesting that pictures of the Mitfords were everywhere. And people make pilgrimages to their graves. Honestly, they weren’t on the whole, very nice people. Racist, classist, anti-Semitic etc. Except for 1, Nancy or was it Jessica was a communist.
That's what makes them so interesting and probably representative of much of upper class English society. I liked Nancy Mitford's books - Love in a Cold Climate, etc.

The walk you did with me was the Haresfield Beacon walk. It was great meeting yo and Ron.

Here is a photo of us all in Sheepscombe - from the left: Jonathan, Pauline, Lisa, Steve. Ron was taking the photo.

full
 
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Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
I had inserted several pictures into my report but somewho they were all lost. So here goes again.
The "compact" car we rented.

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New Friends

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St. Georges Church in the hamlet of Hampnett outside Northleach

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Notice the stenciling. Apparently the vicar was enamoured of the Arts and Crafts Movement and did this himself. The parish wanted to remove it but couldn't raise enough funds. Lucky for us as beautiful and unique.

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Widford Church all by itself in this wonderful setting.

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Kathy

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Loved your update, the photos with Pauline, Steve & Jonathan (our hiking companions from the summer), and also that you liked Chipping Campden. It sounds like you're continuing to have a great time and making the most of it all.

Did you go inside the church in Swinbrook to see the unusual effigies of the knights?

The first time we went to Swinbrook was back in 1997 I think. We went to the post office to buy a postcard and stamps. The post office was in someone's house!
 

Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
Kathy,
Yes we went inside the church and saw the knights facing sideways and visited the grave yard.
Did you see my reply re: Montreal vs Quebec on ST?
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
A post office in someone's house is what we may be reduced to in Painswick. We had a real post office on the high street but it closed over a year ago. Our postmistress went to jail for stealing parcels!! It was in a beautiful old building - and was the oldest building in the UK to have a post office. Now it sits there closed up.
 

Kathy

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Kathy,
Yes we went inside the church and saw the knights facing sideways and visited the grave yard.
Did you see my reply re: Montreal vs Quebec on ST?

I did, and I'm sorry for not responding there.... thanks for taking the time to give me some input. We decided to hold this trip for another time when we can do more and not include an extra stop-off as we go from France to Chicago (and back to France). We've decided to stay in Bonnieux longer, which will be more relaxing this summer. But we definitely want to go to Montreal and Quebec in the future when we can stay longer.
 

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