Coun­try Week­end

Wan­der­ing aim­lessly in the Cotswolds, won­der­ing at the sleep­ing beauty of this ro­man­tic re­gion

Chic & Country - - Contents -

The In­dian sum­mer is a lovely time to en­joy the coun­try­side. With it be­ing warm, and hope­fully sunny, you can still en­joy the out­doors and yet have cosy evenings by the fire with a glass of red wine. The best of both worlds. And if you are look­ing to in­dulge in a bit of lux­u­ri­ous coun­try liv­ing, it re­ally can’t get bet­ter than in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty in Eng­land and Wales and runs through five coun­ties (Glouces­ter­shire, Ox­ford­shire, War­wick­shire, Wilt­shire and Worces­ter­shire). The area is known for its rolling hills (the ‘wolds’) and its pic­turesque honey-coloured stone vil­lages. It is an idyl­lic re­gion, per­fect for a coun­try break, and only 2 hours away from Lon­don. So if you are vis­it­ing Lon­don, make sure you spend at least a cou­ple of days ex­plor­ing this beau­ti­ful part of Eng­land. You will be spoilt for choice by the many vil­lages, gar­dens and palaces there are to visit but, even if you don’t visit any­thing in par­tic­u­lar, it is worth just go­ing for ru­ral walks through foot­paths and bri­dle­ways, an­cient

wood­lands and wild­flower mead­ows, lakes and streams’ banks. You can eas­ily get lost in the beauty of this place and be trans­ported to another time. Find­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion is easy, and there are many coun­try house ho­tels and cot­tages to rent. The Lodge at Thyme Ho­tel in the pretty vil­lage of Southrop in Glouces­ter­shire is par­tic­u­larly fetch­ing if you are search­ing for an in­ti­mate lux­u­ri­ous stay. Southrop is one of the tra­di­tional, honey-coloured vil­lages with a river (the River Leach) that is full of mag­i­cal look­ing cot­tages. It has a won­der­ful his­tory, a 12th cen­tury church and a Manor House whose priest gets a men­tion in the Domes­day Book. The ho­tel it­self is re­ally the heart and soul of the vil­lage, and the painstak­ing na­ture of its restora­tion and cre­ation over many years is ev­i­dent on ar­rival – they have thought of ev­ery­thing. Its most im­pres­sive build­ing is the Lodge which has panoramic views over the farm­lands (Thyme also has a working farm). You can­not miss the in­cred­i­bly old and beau­ti­ful cedar of le­banon tree in the grounds. There is also a de­light­ful

pub which it owns, the Swan (which dates only from the 17th cen­tury!) The river, and its banks, cre­ate a pic­turesque scene.

You will not be dis­ap­pointed in the culi­nary of­fer­ings of the re­gion and there are many places to eat, from gas­tro pubs to fine din­ing restau­rants. With so much em­pha­sis on fresh, or­ganic pro­duce, and with an­i­mals be­ing reared in very good con­di­tions, there are some real del­i­ca­cies to be had. You need to visit Dayles­ford to stock up on their good­ies, but you can also get fresh trout from Bibury or Lech­lade and cook them your­self. There is some­thing very spe­cial in cook­ing such fresh pro­duce – and you re­ally can taste the dif­fer­ence! If you rent a cot­tage, it’s fun to pre­tend you are a lo­cal and go shop­ping to cre­ate your own meals.

To dis­cover the many vil­lages of the Cotswolds you will need to drive around and ex­plore. It is im­pos­si­ble not to stop and mar­vel at the beauty and the age of some of the prop­er­ties and vil­lages. Barns­ley, Bibury, Bour­ton on the Hill (as well as on the Wa­ter), Broad­way, Bur­ford, and also Foscot, Id­bury and King­ham, are must vis­its. You should also visit the vil­lage of Wood­stock on your trav­els, and it is hard to avoid the temp­ta­tion to go to Blen­heim Palace, which must be one of Eng­land’s finest stately homes. Other at­trac­tions, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der, would be Kelm­scott Manor in Lech­lade (the home of William Mor­ris), High­grove (the cur­rent home of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Corn­wall) or Sude­ley Cas­tle (owned by the last wife of Henry VIII).

With the var­i­ous criss-cross­ings and ven­tures into nu­mer­ous coun­ties, you will feel that you re­ally have en­joyed a tremen­dous amount of this green and pleas­ant land in just a few days.

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