The main reason I wanted to go to England for my break during school was so that I could see something that wasn’t London.
Don’t get me wrong, I quite like London. I love food and shopping for food and tea time and old buildings and all the pastry shops I can’t find in Minnesota. But in the four times I have been to England, the only real experience outside of London–to see Stonehenge–was when I was 7 years old…and I mostly only remember the trip because of all the pictures stuffed in a scrapbook we made of the vacation.
How is it possible that I haven’t gone anywhere else in a country that intrigues me, that I have visited multiple times, and is a country from which my ancestors came from? (Okay those ancestors were like several hundreds of years in the past but still, its technically the motherland).
So as soon as I decided to go to England I whipped out my computer and started doing some research into England in general–and also good quality tour guides, because lets be honest, I know nothing about England.
Somehow I stumbled upon a woman who runs a tour through the Cotswolds, and as soon as I read about it I knew that it was made for me. Even just from the description (which ended up being quite accurate) it seemed as though we would spend about as much time eating as we would touring. Which is how I think every vacation should be. (I tend to remember what I ate or where I ate something when I travel more readily than names of places I visited or other pertinent details).
The Cotswolds is a long strip of land marked by several villages and small rolling hills, known for their sheep, about two hours West of London by train. My parents and I got on a 8:00am train from London Paddington Station (we left the hotel at 7:00am and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who was actually awake) and were at Morton in March Station by 10:00am.
I don’t entirely understand the train situation in England, but we made it there in one piece and were greeted immediately at the station by our tour guide.
There were about 12 people on the tour, and we were divided between two vans driven by our two tour guides–the woman who started the business and her assistant. The first thing we did was drive to her cottage for tea and a midmorning snack–and thank goodness we did because it was colder than we all expected and the train had not been heated, so we all arrived chilled to the bone.
After a quick tour of her absolutely enchanting cottage (which is 500 years old!!) and our snack, we all piled back into the vans to set out on our day of touring.
All-in-all we hit 14 locations in the Cotswolds, though we didn’t get out at every single one of them. I took a ton of pictures, but there is no way to describe how beautiful the land was that we drove through–and I didn’t take any pictures from the car so you can’t even get an idea. It was so amazing and I highly recommend going to the area and this tour.
Because the Cotswolds are a compilation of many small villages and there are so many hills, it is very hard to get around if you don’t have a car, and most of the tours that go through the area only hit the biggest towns that are more tourist focused.
We started out by going to a few very little towns (with names I don’t remember) before we went to one town which I will never forget the name of, Lower Slaughter. England never ceases to amaze me with the names of its towns and streets.
After about half of the sights on our list and about two and a half hours later, we returned to our host’s cottage for lunch that her co-worker had made for us. The food was exactly what I wanted at that moment, and sitting by the ginormous fireplace with a plate of food and a cup of tea in a 500 year old thatched roof cottage was simply perfection.
When our lunch break was through we once again went back into the vans for our second portion of sightseeing. With the weather being bipolar our afternoon was equally filled with sunshine and rain, but at least it didn’t snow.
During the afternoon we walked through a field with horses, saw a village of thatched cottages that is owned by one person, saw cottages that were so taken over by trees and wildlife that you couldn’t tell you were standing next to a house until you got three feet from what remains of the windows, and went inside what is possibly the most interesting pub I have ever been to.
Every twist and turn in the road, every village, every street seemed to have a story and a memory attached to it, and as we traveled our guide regaled us with stores of people who live in the area, celebrities who can be spotted at local establishments, the history of the land, and interesting characters on her previous tours.
Just as it really started to rain we headed back to the cottage once again–this time for tea time. We were greeted once again by Charlotte, the chef, holding a plate of freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberries. Which is how I would like to return home every day. Can someone just live in my house and bake me scones that I can eat by a fireplace? Thanks.
Unfortunately that was the end of our tour, and it was time to return to the train station and return to London. (Though actually it was good timing as we were all exhausted from our wandering and excessive amount of eating 😉 ).
The only problem with getting a brief tour of the Cotswolds was that now I just want to go back! Maybe next time I will stay at a B&B in the area, but it might be awhile before I feel competent enough to attempt driving on the wrong side of the road… So I will need to look into the bus schedules 😉
Thanks for reading about my Cotswolds adventure! Stay tuned for more posts about my week of vacation in England (I did a lot of eating in London and also made it out to Bath!) or check out my post about attempting to study French while I was still in London (I fail epically, if you are curious).