The next morning in the Cotswold, I woke up with no aim but to cram in as many pretty little villages and towns in the Cotswolds as possible into my day.
After breakfast at the Royal Oak, we set off to do just that, starting with an old favourite of mine – Bibury and it’s famous street – Arlington Row.
I’ve only been to Bibury once before and back then it was summer time and the sun was out in all it’s glory! This time the sun wasn’t having any of it and hid away behind some rather grey clouds.
It’s testament to Bibury though and I guess the Cotswolds that regardless of weather, they still look absolutely amazing and every bit like they belong in some old British fairy tale.
I just love how there’s no real symmetry to the houses – the slope, slant and lie all higgledy-piggledy next to each other and yet, within this lack of obvious symmetry, lies an unexpected amount of symmetry. Sounds stupid, I know but despite the lack of straight lines, grids or anything that would typically indicate a plan of any kind – they somehow manage to all fit in perfectly. Like somehow they just “belonged” together and wouldn’t be quite the same if even one was missing.
That’s the thing with British architecture – especially in quieter spots like this. Things that don’t always seem naturally connected just seem to fit together. The gigantic farmhouse with the tiny little stone cottage and winding roads just come together all brilliant.
Okay, enough waffle from me – long story short, I love this whole perfect imperfection that makes British towns and villages so special.
Leaving Bibury, we headed off to the Slaughters – such a gruesome sounding name for some of the prettiest places in England.
I didn’t quite know what to expect prior to arriving in the Slaughters.
In fact, we were making our way to Upper Slaughter – deciding to see if we had enough to fit in Lower Slaughter when we realised that we actually had to drive through Lower Slaughter to get to Upper Slaughter.
Lower Slaughter is as picturesque as they come. What was supposed to be quick walk down the river to quickly check out the village turned in time brilliant lost exploring the many nooks and crannies of the picture perfect village.
It looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie here – so much so that I was convinced parts of the movie was filmed around here (it wasn’t) and it wasn’t until we arrived near the mill that I realised why it seemed so familiar.
Lower Slaughter was one of those villages I’d seen so many times in pictures (and sometimes on video) that it felt like a place I’d visited before.
Even with the sun away, the charm of this place was not lost on me and I’d happily return in summertime, crew in tow and spend a weekend laughing, eating and exploring – away from the hustle and bustle of London.
Next up, we head up the road to Upper Slaughter, a seemingly smaller and quieter spot compared to Lower Slaughter but still equally as pretty!
Although you can drive across the river (and drive we did), it makes sense to drop off the car and go explore this little village on foot.
It didn’t take too long before my mind started wandering again and I started thinking of the many cute homes here I would absolutely love to own. I don’t know if I could live 24/7 in village this small but my goodness how amazing would it be to escape here every so often from city life. It just feels like the perfect place to rest up, recharge and prepare for the week ahead.
Leaving Upper Slaughter, and increasingly late for our lunch plans, we had a quick pitstop at Upper Swell, a place I’d never heard of before but had to stop to check out as we drove through it.
Eventually, we arrived at our spot for lunch in a Cotswolds town we’d visited before – Stow-on-the-wold. (*Funnily enough, it was grey clouds through and through the last time we were here).
For lunch, we were going to the oldest Inn in all of England – The Porch House. Established in the year 947, the Porch House has over 1,000 years of history – a lot of which you can see as you walk through.
There’s a cock-pit here, which I assumed the same as one on a plane – which then made no sense whatsoever until someone pointed out that it was a pit where people you to have cock-fights. You can see this cock-pit right in the centre of the pub, though it’s closed off now to avoid the occasional merry drinker from falling into it.
You can also see carving in the walls which were to do with covens back then (*the manager wasn’t sure if it was the signs from the covens themselves or a symbol to protect the inhabitants from the covens back then).
Even the wood inside here dates back to around 947 – the Porch House is such a key part of British history and worth popping into when you’re in the town.
For lunch, Lloyd started off with pate while I went for the mozzarella, figs and ham. (*I did have a hankering for a Scotch egg but that’s a popular item on the menu here so it had all disappeared by the time we’d arrived).
For mains, Lloyd went for a pheasant casserole (which seemed appropriate as we’d just seen a wild one running around the road to the Slaughters) while I went for the steak (cooked uber-rare – usually wouldn’t get it rare but I was told this was how you had to have this particular cut and they were right).
You can probably guess what we had for dessert without me even telling you!
Yup – sticky toffee pudding for me (I’m pretty sure I’ve put on so much weight from just these few days alone) and chocolate pudding for Lloyd with uh-mazing popcorn ice cream. The popcorn ice cream was just something else – I was sceptical when Lloyd mentioned it but I tasted it and then found the chunks of caramel in it, Lloyd was hard-pressed to stop me from trying to eat all of this dessert!
Feeling a tad guilty over-eating during lunch and eager to check out other parts of the town we’d missed in the rain last time, we headed off on foot around Stow-on-the-wold.
Everything round here is so cute (there’s a lot more going on here so you’re more likely to find stuff to do here than say in the Slaughters). We dipped in and out of antique shops in search of souvenirs, past the church and eventually back into the car where we headed back Tetbury to kick back for a while.
Later that evening, for dinner, we headed over to The Wild Garlic in Nailsworth for so much needed dinner. (*I genuinely think the country air works up such an amazing appetite in you).
I started off with a rather refreshing cocktail – can’t remember the name now but it was described as the taste of British summer – a fact I can definitely agree with! It was only posterity and what I’d like to think is good judgement that stopped me from ordering many maaaaany more of these. 😀
We started off dinner with calamari for myself and arancini balls for Lloyd. Spoiler alert – the food is also great here. To be fair, a lot of work did go into choosing these places – which I find is always much better than just going anywhere and being disappointed. Suffice to say, if the food seems to be mostly good on this trip to the Cotswolds (and indeed, it was), it’s because a lot of effort was made to find places that served up delicious food. 😀
On my recommendation (and especially following the cod I’d had the day before), Lloyd went for the Cod while I went for the Pork belly (I enjoyed it so much at the Royal Oak I figured I’d go for the same thing again). Both were absolutely fantastic.
Dessert was three ice cream scoops for Lloyd – two of which were chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake for me.
With that, we headed back to the Royal Oak for another brilliant night’s sleep – thorough pleased with being able to have seen as much of the Cotswolds as possible, and especially getting to find new places we’d never seen before, in a relatively short space of time. 😀