We spent the whole week in the same area known as the Cotswolds where "charming" never gets old. Old is also a relative term. Here in Ontario, we live in an "old" home, built before 1900, we aren't even totally sure when. This past week, we went into places that were hundreds of years old. For example, this was carved above the door to Manor Farm Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed for one night.
That certainly wasn't the oldest place we went into this week, but it does make our century home seem positively recent.
Here is what I can take away from this trip:
-English people are absolutely skilled and fearless when it comes to driving.
-You are never out of place if you dress up for an occasion.
-I am likely going to drink more tea for the next while.
-The beauty of the Cotswolds almost brought me to tears at times, and never failed to be anything less than enchanting.
-The M25 highway should be avoided at all costs.
-I need to walk more. The English walk. A lot. I think it is because there are no places for people to park, get out and buy something, get back in the car and drive to the next place, park again, get out and get what you need, repeat. Parking, at least in the area we were in, was tiny to nonexistent. I do not know how they do it.
-There was a lot of England that I did not see because I couldn't see past the hedgerows.
-Being "wealthy" is also a relative term. My husband was in awe of the amount of expensive cars he saw throughout our trip. And then we saw Blenheim Palace.
-Dead badgers there, are like dead raccoons here. Road kill is different in England.
-The public washrooms were the most clean and lovely of any other place I've been.
-I take the amount of space that I am used to for granted. Historically, as well as in present day, the English have very little space for homes, roads, parking, living, breathing...
-Place names in England often consist of two or three words. (e.g. Bourton on the Water, Chipping Campden)
-A pint of beer is bigger than a bottle that you would get here.
-I will definitely return to the U.K.
Here are some highlights of the trip:
Castle Combe is one of the little villages that almost made me cry with joy.
Gates, walls, and doors add the charm and essence to so many places.
Store front signage is fabulous, and would be completely out of place here, but seems perfectly normal there.
To recreate the look, you need an ancient climbing rose around your doorway. What blew my mind was the absolutely tiny, miniscule space from which these roses grew. Even their plants have to adapt to small spaces. Look at that picture above! How does that rose survive??? And they all do!!
Except at Blenheim Palace, where plants are provided with a little extra space in which to grow.
We were sitting in the room with a collection of pewter plates. I am enjoying a pint of beer. The couple behind us was lovely. Across from me was an enormous fire place area with huge timbers forming the mantle, as well as holding up the ceiling. The fireplace was so large, there were little wooden seats built into the two ends, and even a tiny window was located at one end.
The countryside is beautiful, even if you have to climb a tower to see it. The smaller roads are almost always lined with hedges. Sometimes the hedges are so high on either side, that they curve over head and form a canopy around you. It is magical and those places where we drove down into shady, secretive places made me think that fairies and gnomes really might exist. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the hedgerows as we were always driving along these roads and were unable to pull over because there is literally NO space at the sides of the roads. Every once in a while there is a little space created so that you can meet other traffic and not take each others' side view mirrors off. As I said, the people that live there should be highly respected in terms of their ability to judge distance while driving.
I will leave you with an idyllic moment: photogenic geese, right out of a Beatrix Potter story, as we had to slow down to let ducks cross, and then were able to stop and photograph this little group who posed for us.