Cotswolds Countryside

22:28 Alyson Tart 1 Comments

Since my American family and friends just celebrated Mother's Day, I thought the timing was perfect to talk about our UK Mother's Day trip (one of the many blog posts piling up from my lack of blogging!!). This is celebrated in March, so I get the distinct pleasure of celebrating being a mother not once, but twice a year!

The week of Mother's Day rolled around - we didn't have any plans and the weather looked to be beautiful and sunny, so I decided to book a last minute trip. Since becoming parents, we've had to do all kinds of planning for trips, from getting a lap infant sorted, to finding hotels that are kid friendly with baby cots, to just plain hauling ourselves to the airport. Needless to say, it felt invigorating and terrifying to be booking that hotel on Thursday for a check-in on Friday.

For our first spontaneous weekend, we kept it somewhat local though (there's only so much last minute pressure for a mom to handle) and headed to the Cotswolds which had been on our bucket list for quite some time.

Due to the last minute reservations and the holiday weekend, hotels weren't easy to come by for a decent rate, so we ended up a bit further south than we would have liked, but our hotel was great. We were at the Hare & Hounds in Tetbury and as we travelled with Belle, I thought the theme was quite appropriate! Since we left after work, we arrived just in time for dinner at the pub before bedtime rolled around.

The next day we had a packed schedule that was pretty ambitious. I had planned for stops in 4-5 different towns for meals, shopping and a wander down the high streets.  We started furthest away and worked our way back.  With this, our first stop was Chipping Campden.  I had no idea what to expect of any of these places other than a 30 second online search, as all had come from co-workers. But I quickly was reminded of why I love English towns the moment we started walking.

After passing through a gorgeous old market hall area, we stumbled upon some locals with stalls out on the street. One was giving away free bread, the other selling some locally made jam. Pretty clever marketing idea there as we came away with olive bread and 3 jars of jam. We ended up near the church which had beautiful vistas out across the fields behind it. After chatting with a local, she pointed us towards the public footpath which she thought would give some lovely views and be a great walk for Belle.

If you haven't heard of the public footpath, it may seem a weird concept, but basically a public footpath (or right of way) is a path which can be used by the public at all times, even if it's on private lands.  Public footpaths often take you right through private farms, with sheep and cows roaming about, most often with kissing gates or stiles to keep animals in and allow people through.  With the sun shining, backdropped to a historic church and sheep, it was quintessential England and a reminder of how I love the outdoors culture here (at least when the weather is nice!!). Belle loves these kinds of walks and was totally in her element, and both Belle and L were curious about the sheep.

After picking up a few bites for a picnic, we made an unscheduled detour to Dover's Hill for our picnic as it was another local recommendation. Spontaneous mom forgot about the reality of toddlerhood, and plans were dashed when L fell asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the car.  So, rather than picnic with views, we picnicked within feet of the parking lot! The sun was shining and we had cheese and crackers, so not too much to complain on there. Before heading to our next stop, we drove past Broadway Tower long enough to snap a picture.

Next on the list was Stow-on-the-Wold. I was most excited here about their church, which I had seen online and on social media, with old, twisted trees growing from the doors of the church (a bit like an English version of Ta Phrom). I seem to have some kind of man vs. nature of obsession, and so these made it on my list of must sees.

We found ourselves falling into a routine in each town - site, shopping and the most important part, ice cream. We left the ice cream too long on this stop, causing L to become hangry (she takes after her mom!), so we hurriedly found a shop and the perfect place to enjoy it, the old gallows.  L didn't seem to mind and found the whole thing quite humourous!

Our last stop of the day was Bourton-on-the-Water.  It was the busiest of all the places we had visited, and after we waited 15 minutes for a parking spot in the car park then joined the floods going out from their cars into the city, I wasn't so sure about it.  Luckily, we snagged a spot on the canal anding L enjoyed feeding the ducks some of the last bits of our free bread. The tension eased away and the village's charm began to work its magic.

Here, the shops overlooked the canals which seemed to be the life source of the area.  Pubs offered gardens for the chance to enjoy not just the views, but a pint, which seemed like a perfect combination to us. So we tried our hardest to get the last slivers of sunlight, and even though we failed miserably to do so in the crowded pub garden, all in all, it seemed perfect.

The next day, we weren't nearly so ambitious having learned our lesson, so our main stop was The National Arboretum in Westonbrit which was only a few minutes drive from our hotel. It was a huge area with lots to cover, and I imagine is probably prettier when flowers are actually blooming. But despite a little sun, it was a bit cold and windy, so we walked for an hour before deciding to get ourselves back to the warmth of the car.

The final stop was the famed row of cottage houses in Bibury.  The town looked so cute as we drove in, but as luck would have it, yet again L was sleeping. Paul let me out in the town and I walked down the hill to the row.  While so quaint looking to me, I began to realise some of the downfalls for the locals of this kind of fame. There were constantly people in front of these houses, posing in door frames, getting selfies, trodding in the plants in front. Imagine trying to drive down  your street, hang out in your pajamas with the windows open or just enjoy a quiet cup of tea!

Before hitting the road, we lollygagged a little, watching the trout make their way upstream, watching others trekking down the row and revelling in a little time away. At only 90 minutes away and with plenty left to explore, I have a feeling another trip back to the Cotswolds is in the cards.

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1 comment:

  1. Holy cow - how in the world did you guys fit all that in one day?! Cory and I took a couples holiday to the Cotswolds and it took us three days to see all of that...and we didn't even have a baby! Major props to you guys! I'm super glad to see you blogging again, too, by the way! :)