Steve raised one finger…1…then another…2…then a third…
“Yep, I still love it!” I declared, before he could get to “3”. We were back in some magical places with gorgeous scenery and charming villages and my declarations of love for England of Britain the Great, continued.
We took off from Birmingham and decided on a route that took us back through the Cotswolds. We travelled along the country roads again, beside stone walls, between hedgerows, under a cloudless, clear sky and it was glorious.
We passed through Moreton-in-Marsh, where we had enjoyed elevenses on our last visit, then on through Stowe and into the district of Stratford Upon Avon. We were heading to two villages that we wanted to see, one because we didn’t see it last time and another because we loved it when we saw it last time…we were off to The Slaughters! On our last trip, we rode through Lower Slaughter and it instantly became our favourite Cotswold village, but it was so small, we rode through it in the blink of an eye and didn’t even take a picture, so we had to return there. We didn’t get to Upper Slaughter at all last time, so that became our first port of call today. What a gorgeous little place. It was sleepy and quiet and full of cottages built from Cotswold stone.
We strolled along the lanes, listening to the clip-clop of hooves in the distance and then had a rider come clopping past us. How perfect. I think Upper Slaughter was a bit out of our league though, the clue being the Ferrari in the driveway of one of the cottages. I think our place on the posh scale would definitely be several rungs below the average resident of Upper Slaughter!
It was a lovely village though, picture perfect and delightfully peaceful.
“It’s just beautiful,” I said, “I love it.”
Down the hill we tootled, to Lower Slaughter. The test was on. We have avoided returning to any place we visited last time and liked, just so the memory wouldn’t be tarnished. What if it wasn’t as we remembered it? What if our memory of delightful, was replaced by a new reality of dodgy? What if the previous pretty, wasn’t quite so perfect this time? We had to make an exception for Lower Slaughter though, so we were about to risk it. The fears of disappointed, let downs or disillusionment were not realised and Lower Slaughter was just as pretty and quaint and charming as we remembered it.
The beautiful Cotswold stone cottages filled the village, the little river we remembered was flowing fast and we even had some more horses pass us, just to add to the perfect village scene. It was simply delightful. Oh, give me a cottage in a Cotswold village!
We continued on, with Steve giving his counting fingers a workout again, as I continued to be in raptures over my surroundings. We passed through Bourton-on-the-Water where we stayed for a couple of enjoyable nights previously. We’d almost steered clear of Bourton on our last trip because a number of people had said to avoid it, describing it as a tourist trap and a bit tacky. We really liked it though. Yes, there were crowds of tourists on the main street on the bank holiday when we arrived, but all we had to do was turn a corner and we were away from the crowds and amongst peaceful streets and lovely stone cottages. It was a bit like that again today. Despite being winter, the tourist buses were still lined up and the tourists were in abundance. It was still a nice little village though. Time for lunch, so we choofed up the road and found a spot at a historic estate, beside beautiful green fields. We sat and had a bite to eat, as we watched the clear sky turn grey and the first splats of rain make an appearance.
The ramblers were out and about today and we’d passed a few of them in the various villages and a number of them had obviously enjoyed walking through the estate where we were parked. We watched them return to their Audis and scrape as much mud off their designer shoes as they could, or change out of their practical wellies and back into their bespoke brogues, so as not to muddy the chic interior. I truly do applaud the British rambler. They are out there in all weathers, appreciating their own countryside. They deserve a hearty “Good on ‘em!” and I hereby give them one!
We thought we should probably find some new parts of the Cotswolds to see, places we didn’t see last time, so we headed towards the tiny little village of Bibury. Can this area get any more gorgeous?! How can these villages just keep tipping the scale on “pretty”, “quaint” and “charming”? They have these attributes in abundance and bucket loads going spare! Bibury was lovely. It was raining and there were a few tourists like us, but it was utterly delightful. Just as we arrived, Len and Pauline, Steve’s mum and dad, rang us to wish us a Happy New Year, Australian time, and it occurred to us that we were having a Doctor Who tardis moment. We were playing with the space time continuum! I think we could be in need of a sonic screwdriver here! There we were, in one year, talking to people in another year! A very Time Lord thing to do! We stayed well and truly earthed in space and time though, by popping into a tea room to toast our upcoming new year, since we seriously doubt we will make it through to midnight to ring it in officially. So, instead of a glass of bubbly and fire works, we had a cup of tea in a cosy little tea room, in a charming Cotswold village and I’m more than satisfied with that!
The rain bucketed down, so we headed off along the country roads again, in the fast fading light and landed in our destination of Oxford. We’ll stay here for a few days, both to explore Oxford and to use it as a base to explore the area around us. Another magic day in absolutely magical places. I just need to go and administer some First Aid to Steve, who I think might have strained his three counting fingers, as he anticipated my statements of joy about the places we visited. Should I use a splint, or just apply ice and elevation? Is there a doctor in the house? Doctor Who? We are, of course, fellow travellers who toy with time!We may not have a sonic screwdriver, but maybe we’ve reached the level of having a sonic cotton bud, or a sonic band aid…oh, the new levels of skill we are acquiring! Amazing!