A weekend escape to the Cotswolds is something that almost everyone needs to experience in the UK – doesn’t matter if you call the UK home or if you’re just visiting, you just have to visit. 😀
This beautiful part of England is absolutely gorgeous (a word I used a lot over the next few days) and feels like taking a step back in time to quintessential England.
After about an hour train ride from London, and a quick stop to pick up our car – we headed off in search of the town of Tetbury – but not before stopping off for lunch.
Lunch was at The Wild Duck Inn in Ewen and boy was it an amazing find! The Inn is set in a historic Cotswold property and is the perfect way to start off your trip.
We wasted no time in getting stuck into our food – starting off which a delicious Scotch egg with oodles of tea by the crackling fireplace. (*I may also have snuck in a quick latte too! Fireplaces have a way of making you rather nap-ready… 😁)
For mains, I went for the cod on a bed of potatoes and vegetables (that cod was AMAZING! Like the best I’ve had in ages!) while Lloyd went for the Duck Cottage pie – which he guaranteed me was absolutely delicious (*alas, I wasn’t allowed even a little taste of it like I wanted. Greedy, right? 😀 ).
For dessert, we went for our favourites – molten chocolate pudding for Lloyd and sticky toffee pudding for me. Each absolutely perfect! (*I realise now I have no idea how to say to sticky toffee pudding).
With that, we headed off down the road to Tetbury which is one of the prettiest little English towns ever.
Of particular note here is the Chipping Steps, a row of cute homes lined along a side street in adorable higgledy-piggledy fashion. We spent far longer than I’d like to admit here – I was pretty much-daydreaming the entire time of owning a home right here. I love living in London but these homes are just so pretty.
A spot that was recommended for us to visit was the Westonbirt Arboretum – which is like a botanical garden but predominantly just for trees. It’s pretty enough and judging from photos, it’s absolutely spectacular in summer and autumn but with no leaves on the trees (as is common in winter), I’d recommend saving a visit for when you visit in the other 3 warmer seasons of the year. (*Check out these pictures from Google to see examples of what it looks like at other times of the year)
The village of Westonbirt – right opposite, is also worth popping into briefly before carrying on down the road.
Major random sidebar alert but we had no idea at the time just around the corner from here was the private home of Prince Charles and Camilla. We saw this huge manor in the distance and thought about checking it out on the way back from Westonbirt Arboretum (Lloyd had actually seen it on the way over too) and still taken by a farmhouse I’d seen further down the road, I’d told Lloyd that we probably shouldn’t bother popping round.
Funnily enough, we then ended up parking right outside the entrance to Prince Charles home when I stopped off to cross the road to check out this farmhouse which looked somewhat abandoned (*my delusions of grandeur totally kicked in as I wondered what it would be like to just buy this place and move here).
In fact, the only reason why we knew this was where Prince Charles and Camilla lived was because there was a sign nearby about something to do with a Police cordon and how the drive up to the home was restricted from trespassing due to something about “Serious Organised Crime Act” (*FYI, the actual way you could drive up to the home – a few metres down had no signs like this and no gates or even guards).
It seemed like the most unlikely of places for some sort of Organised Crime gang but with me distracted by my farmhouse obsession, Lloyd googled it – only to find out that this is where Highgrove House was – the Prince’s private home. I later found out you can actually visit, not the home itself but the gardens around it from April – which explains why the other driveway was open.
How no one had told us that Tetbury and the village of Doughton were the Prince and Duchess’ stomping grounds, I had no idea! And that’s when I remembered something that happened over lunch.
Over lunch, there was a table of 3 ladies who I can only describe as the local busybodies association. There was no one in their village who didn’t get discussed and it wasn’t so much this as the fact that they were speaking at the top of the voices for everyone to hear that kinda grated on me.
They went on and on about all these celebrities that lived in the area – The Beckhams, Prince Harry…etc like they knew them personally (*even though it was very apparent that they didn’t). When the conversation moved on to a local lady called Camilla who had such great intentions when she signed up to help in the village but could never see it through due to her busy schedule and commitments, I didn’t even think once that it was the very same Camilla. Conversations even mentioned Charles and I still didn’t connect the dots.
I did find it weird when it turned to politics and they started off conversations with “Okay so this is a rumour, it’s all word unconfirmed but…” (*swiftly followed by even more eye rolls from me) mostly because political news, especially about the people they were speaking about was a relatively open book so I couldn’t understand why the whole rumour caveat was necessary.
It was only once we realised that Prince Charles and Camilla lived here (along with many other celebrities and politicians), that we realised that these were people the ladies actually knew and were only too happy to let everyone else in the pub know that they knew. I mean they were loud.
It all made sense now and in retrospect, I wished I’d paid a little bit more attention now. Hahaha! I may not have liked the fervour of their gossip but even if just for my own entertainment, it seemed so much more hilarious to know some (*just a tiny bit!) of the stuff they were talking about was from first-hand experiences. 😀
All of that aside, we made our way back to Tetbury (which is like 3 minutes down the road) where we checked into the Royal Oak Tetbury – our home for the next couple of days!
The Royal Oak Tetbury is an exceptional little place and I’d selected the room we’d been staying in also specifically for the bath! (*Okay, fine – I’d chosen it for so much more but the idea of lighting up a fire and having a nice lazy soak in the tub was just too good to pass up on – I kid you not, I was so into this place, I waited until it was available to actually visit 😀 ).
Settling in here was far too easy and before long, it was time for dinner – a meal we’d decided to go for the convenient option and head downstairs to the Royal Oak pub for food!
Our convenient choice also paid off in many other ways as the food at the Royal Oak is also really good! The pub is also dog-friendly – which was brilliant as we had friends nearby pop over to say hi with their little pup (he’s not so much so a pup now but he’s so freaking cute he always looks like a puppy to me).
Lloyd went for the bubble and squeak to start (non-Brits might have to Google this but a meal made from leftover vegetables from a Sunday roast) while I went for the haddock tempura. *licks lips* Soooo so good!
This is another reason why I love visiting the Cotswolds, it’s so easy to find such great food here! I don’t know if it’s because there’s so much farmland here i.e. easy access to fresh produce or it’s just that people just care more about food here but there are just so many amazing places to eat around these parts.
For mains, I went with the pork belly and Lloyd with a burger of which, by the time we were done in very uncharacteristic style, I couldn’t manage to get dessert in! (And you know how much I love dessert – I’d happily have dessert on its own as an entire meal).
Somehow, my gluttony failed me on this occasion but I’m gonna blame the deliciously warm bread and spicy olives I’d had pre-starter for my lack of dessert 😀 (*like somehow the bread and not myself is to blame for how much I gorged on it before even starting my meal!).
Thoroughly well-fed, we bade farewell to our friends and trudged upstairs for a brilliant night’s sleep – eager to explore even more of the Cotswolds the very next day!