June 2020 in the Cotswolds


Last summer I had a strange experience. I was touring a couple from Arizona and the sun was shining brightly over the English countryside.

‘What a great day’ I said.

‘No it’s not’ they replied, ‘We wanted grey and miserable, because that’s what we think of when England comes to mind’.

I was a little shocked, but when I looked up ‘Arizona weather’ that evening, I found that they have, on average, 299 days of sun per year; for them grey drizzle was much more exciting that a bright sunny day.

If you go into any pub in the Cotswolds, the conversation will usually begin with a comment of the weather. It’s either too hot, too cold, too wet, to dry or even too foggy. It is easy to forget that we live on an island and a little thing called the ‘Gulf Stream’ causes England to have changeable weather all year round. (The mix of warm and cold water causes evaporation and rain, which sweeps in over Ireland and on to us!)

This June has been no exception, with a number of hot sunny spells and a little rain now and again. Of course, this should not put off the intrepid traveller from ‘over the pond’; indeed for many who visit us, no trip to England would be complete without a little occasional precipitation.

For farmers such as ourselves, of course,  this mixed weather is a Godsend. The main crops in our area and on the farm, Wheat, Barley and Oilseed Rape (Canola), need both the warmth and the wet to produce abundant yields and it is during the month of June that cereal crops turn from green to gold. For any visitor to the Cotswolds, the sight of gently swaying barley across our farm, lit with the warm light of a Summer evening, is something that they will never forget.

June is also the month in which villages begin to hold their annual ‘Fetes’. As you travel through the countryside, you will begin to see signs advertising these important village rituals. Essentially a ‘fete’ is a sort of ‘catch-all’ event, which combines table sale/dog show/flower festival/cookery completion/charity auction/afternoon tea or Pimms, all to raise money for either the village, for local charities or both.

It is a chance for villagers to socialise and for visitors to experience a little bit of what the locals do with their spare time.

Being the Cotswolds, the table sale element tends to be quite ‘up-market’, so there are some real bargains to be had. The day of the fete always ends, as every event does, in the village pub.

So if you visit the Cotswolds in June, July or August and you see a sign advertising a ‘Village Fete’, make sure that you stop for an hour or so: I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Here are a few clips we captured whilst out and about in May https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v49O9qJzEfw

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May 2020 in the Cotswolds


We have reached the month of May and although the country is still officially in ‘lockdown’, we are starting to see the return of visitors to our glorious region. There are more cars on the roads and plenty of people walking around, all trying to stay two metres apart!

May is, arguably, the best month of the year in our area of the country. It is often sunny, with a clear freshness in the air and the trees and flowers in full bloom.

May has traditionally been a time to take part in ancient rituals, hoping that by doing so, country folk will ensure a good crop in Autumn.

One tradition that is well known is ‘Maypole dancing’ and you will, to this day, find Maypoles in some Cotswold villages. On Mayday, the maidens in the villages (unmarried young women), would dress in white and dance intricate reels, holding onto coloured ribbons whilst forming a vivid splash of colour on the pole itself. The tradition continues to this day, with the ‘maidens’ usually being supplied by the local village school. The origins of this strange ritual are lost in the mists of time but as it is essentially a fertility rite, it doesn’t take too much imagination, for adults at least, to work out what the Maypole represents!

The City of Oxford missed out on one of its May-Day traditions this year, due to the Covid restrictions, but in happier times, you can join revellers at 6.00 a.m. on May Day morning outside Magdalen College. Locals know that the institution’s name is pronounced ‘Maudlin’ and it is one of Oxford’s older colleges, founded in 1458, with alumni including C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde and A.C. Grayling. If you are lucky enough to be able to join in, you will hear the chapel choir singing Madrigals from the top of the college’s tower, while Morris Dancers perform their traditional jigs in the streets below. Oxford is, of course, a university town, so the celebration is completed with plenty of early-morning drinking!

May also sees the beginning, in earnest, of the Cricket season. This mysterious game (to foreign guests at least) in one of the staples of the English countryside. First referenced in writing in 1597, its origins are obscure but it played a central role in country life throughout the late 18th and the 19th centuries, as it was a sport where the upper classes and the working classes often joined together. Manor houses would have their own cricket pitches and rivalry between villages was intense.

There are 11 players per team, with each team having a go at ‘batting’ and ‘fielding’. The team with the most ‘runs’ at the end wins. This simple explanation is, I’m afraid, all that I can give you in such a short article but should you come and visit, the structure of the game can be explained by watching a game with an Englishman in around half an hour. You will then, sadly, need the best part of a life-time to understand the subtleties of the game. Suffice to say that should you be lucky enough to be here during a weekend in May, you will still be able to see two teams, both dressed in white, smacking a hard leather ball around with flat pieces of willow. Nothing is more English than that and the village cricket field in Stanton is a great place to watch from!

So now it’s back to ‘Lockdown Lite’ and, as I stroll through Bourton on the Water there are, once again, people! We still have quite a way to go before we can truly say things are ‘back to normal’, but as we draw to the end of May it’s fair to say that at last, there is some excitement in the air!

Here are a few clips we captured whilst out and about in May https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v49O9qJzEfw

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April in the Cotswolds


As the nights begin to lengthen and the darkness of a Northern hemisphere winter starts to fade into the distance, the Cotswolds is certainly one of the best places to be in the whole of our beautiful country.

The month of April brings with it renewal in all sorts of ways. As the churches celebrate Easter, houses across the region are ‘Spring Cleaning’, an old tradition where the cobwebs and dust of interior living are swept away, windows are opened to the fresh Spring air and sulky children are gently encouraged to wield mops and dusters, in a family quest to resurrect their beautiful homes. The farms too are busy with spring lambs frolicking in the fields, milking cows finally released from their winter barns and the fresh shoots of the wheat-fields begin to climb with purpose towards the light.

This year, of course, things have been different. The pandemic has extended the people’s time in their homes and prevented the annual Spring Bank Holiday from taking its usual form. The English love their Bank Holidays and the ones in Spring mean Cotswold villages are full of life with picnics on gorgeous village greens, pints of ale at sleepy pub tables and a chance to visit one or two of the many beautiful stately homes and gardens in the region.

The frustration this year is palpable. Friends can’t visit and whilst the sun shines, we are restricted to one hour of exercise a day. Yet here, in the midst of a world-wide emergency, residents of this beautiful area can count their lucky stars. Not for us a small flat (or apartment), surrounded by city concrete or the noise, smells and traffic of the urban environment. Even if we live in a village or town, the stunning countryside is never more than a few minutes away, so whilst the city folk struggle to find fresh air and a place to find greenery, we happy few are surrounded by fields of Canola, flowering in vivid splashes of yellow amongst the spectacular range of greens that cover our gently rolling hills. We can walk through leafy glades as the ancient woodland bursts once more into life and the absence of traffic, due to the ‘lockdown’, brings with it the musical exhilaration of the birds singing as they eagerly seek out a mate.

The kitchens in our houses are also busy at this time of year, with the sunlight bringing out the baker in all of us. Top of the list, of course, are ‘Hot Cross Buns’ which no house can be without on Good Friday. These delicious spiced fruit buns are a long-standing tradition dating back definitely to 1733 and possibly to the city of St Albans in 1361. They mark the end of the austere season of ‘Lent’, with the spices representing the materials used to embalm Christ and the cross on top signifying the crucifixion. If you are lucky enough to be here in April, they are a treat that should not be missed under any circumstances.

There is, of course, one crucial aspect of the Cotswolds missing this year which is, of course, the tourists. Whilst, for some, the peace and quiet is a delight, there is a real sense that something important is missing. One could describe it as akin to owning a Matisse, a Van Gogh or a Michaelangelo which you keep tucked away and don’t allow anyone else to see. There is joy for you when you see it, but there is also joy in seeing the reaction of others to a thing of beauty. We draw energy and vibrancy from our visitors and love to see their joy as they experience our beautiful region. This too is something missing in these strange times so, as April of 2020 comes to a close, we have lots to be thankful for, but when the time is right, we look forward to opening our roads, our hotels, our gardens and the whole Cotswold region and welcoming once again visitors from around the world.

Here are a few clips we captured whilst on the farm and our local area during April. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD8-1sV2o5o

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Chastleton House


Standing tall in the tiny village of Chastleton is ‘Chastleton House’, one of the best-preserved Jacobean Manor houses in the country.

The property is now owned by the National Trust and can be visited during the Summer months.

English manor houses, however insignificant and unknown they may be, do tend to have links to important episodes in English history and Chastleton is no exception.

The house was originally owned by William Catesby whose son, Robert, was the leader of the infamous ‘Gunpowder Plot’. Some have said that the plot itself was planned in the house, which is of course nonsense, as the foundations for the current building were laid in 1607, two years after the plot failed. An Oxford lawyer, one Walter Jones, purchased the old house and estate from Catesby in 1604 and spent five years building the house we see now.

The Jones family were responsible, however, for an intriguing event during the English civil war. In 1651, after the Battle of Worcester, Arthur Jones, grandson of Walter, escaped to Chastleton after the Royalist defeat. Roundhead soldiers arrived to search for him whereupon his wife Sarah drugged them with Laudanum, allowing Arthur to escape! As a result of their support of the king, the family were bankrupted which was bad for them, but very good for us. Due to their lack of funds, the family could not afford to change the interior of the building which is why today, it is such a significant historic relic of the early 17th Century.

There is one more thing for which Chastleton is famous. Should you ever play Croquet, you will find yourself using the rules devised for play at Chastleton. When Croquet first appeared as a game in the 1800s, there were no set rules, which caused problems for the aristocracy, as there was no defined way to play the game.

In 1865, however, ‘The Field’ magazine published Walter Whitmore-Jones rules from Chastleton, which became the world-wide standard. Just another example of the long and fascinating history of this most beautiful parts of the country!

Here are a few clips we captured of the exterior of the house https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD8-1sV2o5o

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5 Types of Cotswold Stays


We are so fortunate to have an amazing collection of hotels, Manor Houses, Cottages and quirky unique places you can stay in the Cotswolds. From super luxury to self catering there is something just perfect for any type of traveller or party size. Because, there is such a wide variety of accommodation, we’ve put together 5 amazing places to stay that suit someone on a budget, a place that’s great for families and luxury stays. Here are 5 of our favourite Cotswold accommodations.


 

Temple Guiting Manor – Temple Guiting

Temple Guiting Manor is a luxury 15th century Tudor house located in the North Cotswolds. This 5-bedroom property is fully loaded with manicured award-winning private gardens, a hot tub hidden away through the tiniest door, tennis court, secret movie theatre and a billiards table. The option for a private chef is available for guests and the Temple Guiting Pantry, which is a farm shop and restaurant, is within a 5 min walk from the property so everything you could need is right at your fingertips. This is a perfect stay for families or big groups that like to have their own space to play but also want the resources of a hotel.

Temple Guiting Manor Instagram

 

The Fish Hotel Tree House – Broadway

Tree House at the Fish Hotel is a luxury camping style stay with all the amenities of a hotel but with the privacy and uniqueness of a retreat. Equipped with underfloor heating, outdoor bathtubs on your private deck and totally surrounded by trees. The Tree House is tastefully decorated with a gorgeous mix of warm English country and modern design, a perfect blend for a stylish adventure getaway. The main house of The Fish hotel has a bar and restaurant so food services are very accessible. The hotel also provides wellies and maps for the more adventurous guests. The Tree House at The Fish Hotel is a super cool way to stay whilst visiting the Cotswolds. Great for families or couples.

Instagram - cotswold tours and travelThe Fish Hotel Instagram

 

Abbots Grange – Broadway

Abbots Grange is a 14th century property that is technically an B&B but is far from any other B&B you would have stayed at. With an amazing location just walking minutes from Broadways high street and plenty of gardens surrounding your days will be full of fun. Guests receive complimentary tea and cake upon arrival and there is always after-dinner drinks provided in the Great Hall. In our opinion Abbotts Grange is one the best b & b in the Cotswolds.

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel Abbouts Grange Instagram

 

Honeypot Cottages – Various Cotswold Locations

Honeypot Cottages are perfect for a truly authentic and immersive stay in the Cotswolds. The cottages have amazing locations all over the Chipping Campden area, many within walking distance of a village or town. Guests receive a Victoria sponge and tea/coffee upon arrival plus every returning guest gets £25 pounds off their next stay, so the option to come again and try a new cottage to explore new scenery and villages is a plus! Many cottages have wood burning stoves and lovely little gardens. It’s a fun option with each cottage having its own history and quirks. Great for all travel sizes.

Instagram - cotswold tours and travelHoneypot Cottages Instagram

 

Foxhill Manor- Broadway

If hotels are the only way you travel our favourite local hotel stay is Foxhill Manor. Located on the beautiful hilltops over the village of Broadway, on the Farncombe Estate. With its own private entrance and grounds, Foxhill Manor is known for its bespoke standard and luxury treatment, It has eight bedrooms decorated differently with a country feel but completely modern and fabulous. Any kind of drink, snack and food is only a request away with their bespoke service and complimentary perks. Foxhill is perfect for any one who is after a lovely couple of days getting totally pampered in the Cotswolds.

Instagram - cotswold tours and travelFoxhill Manor Instagram

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4 Cotswold Drinks


When travelling or visiting a new part of world one of the most fun and satisfying experiences is what you’re eating and drinking when you’re there.  Lucky for us the Cotswolds is full of master brewers , vintners and spirit markers so there is plenty of choice for an amazing drink! We have tried and tested most wines, ciders, spirits and beers made here in the Cotswolds and although there are many delicious drinks we have narrowed it down to 4 of our favourites. All of these drinks are very different but equally tasty and made right here in the Cotswolds!


Sibling Gin – Strawberry & Black Pepper Gin

Sibling Gin– Strawberry & Black Pepper is our ultimate summer drink. With bursting strawberry flavour throughout and finishing with the black pepper syrup its a perfect combination to mix up your everyday ol gin whilst not neglecting any flavours or complexity. The gorgeous strawberry taste is the ideal amount of sweetness which makes is very easy to drink a lot of! Sibling Gin- Strawberry & Black Pepper totally reflects the summers vibe and is absolutely delicious!

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel Sibling Distillery

The Cotswolds Distillery -Whiskey

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel Cotswold Distillery

Donnington Brewery – Cotswold Gold

Donnington Brewery’s Cotswold Gold is a beautiful gold coloured beer full of super smooth citrus and malt flavours. Not only is the history and techniques of Donnington Brewerys beers so unique but the beer is actually made by using the spring water drawn from the mill pond right next to the brewery, pumped by the waterwheel which dates back to 1291 and put right into making the Donnington Beers. Cotswold Gold is perfect served ice cold on a warm summers day.

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel Donnington Brewery Instagram

Cotswold Drinks Co- Toffee Vodka

Cotswold Drinks Co. Toffee Vodka is a total winner. Beautifully golden with amazing textures & flavours from the moment you take your first sip to the completely smooth sweet finish. Very creamy flavors but not at all heavy to drink. This toffee vodka is amazing on its own or put into a cocktail. Our favourite is mixed with fresh apple juice it literally tastes like your drinking a toffee apple, absolutely delicious! Perfect over ice for any kind of summer day/night but also warming you up on a winters night poured straight or into hot chocolate, yum!

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel Cotswold Drinks Co Instagram

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5 Cotswold Desserts


When travelling or visiting a new part of world one of the most fun and satisfying experiences is what you’re eating when you’re there. We all know how easy it is to pop online and search “Best Restaurants or Places to Eat” and although most of the time it will give you a list of some really great places, what it doesn’t give you is what your specially after or the the authentic, truly local, off the beat edible gems. We have put down our 5 Favourite desserts that are super delicious, local and worth every calorie!  Look out for our  Top 5 Cotswold Quick Treats & our Top 5 Cotswold Drinks blogs to better fulfil your cravings. Here are 5 of our sweet tooth favourites in the Cotswolds.


Le Patissier Anglais Carl  – Lemon Meringue

French inspired patisserie located in Stow on the Wold in Cotswolds

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel

Cotswold tours and travel- blog- best- food- desserts- cotswolds- delicious- cakes- stow-on-the-wold- lemon tart- Le Patissier AnglaisCotswold tours and travel- blog- best- food- desserts- cotswolds- delicious- cakes- stow-on-the-wold- lemon tart- Le Patissier Anglais

 

The Wheatsheaf Inn – Half Baked Cookie Dough

with vanilla ice cream as

Instagram - cotswold tours and travel

Cotswold tours and travel- blog- best- food- desserts- cotswolds- delicious- cakes-wheatsheaf- cookie-ice cream- dough- chocolateCotswold tours and travel- blog- best- food- desserts- cotswolds- delicious- cakes-wheatsheaf- cookie-ice cream- dough- chocolate- pub

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4 Delicious Cotswold Quick Treats


When travelling or visiting a new part of world one of the most fun and satisfying experiences is what you’re eating whilst you’re there. We all know how easy it is to pop online and search “Best Restaurants or Places to Eat” and although most of the time it will give you a list of some really great places, what it doesn’t give you is the authentic, truly local, off the beat edible gems. These are 4 of our favourite local Cotswold foods that you cannot miss when visiting the Cotswolds!  Look out for our Top 5 Cotswold Desserts & our 5 Favourite Cotswold Drinks blogs to better fulfil your cravings. 


Cotswold Baguettes – Scotched Egg 

Cotswold Baguettes is a true locals spot, hidden down the little one way of Church street in the town of Stow-on-the Wold. Cotswold Baguettes is a little charming shop known for their amazing breads, sandwiches and daily soups. Owners Kevin and Beth are completely hands on making everything they serve and welcoming you from behind the counter with a smile and chat. Beyond the amazing sandwiches, breads, soups and staff is one of the best foods you will ever eat, their homemade scotched eggs. They are absolutely mouth-watering, to die for delicious. If you aren’t from here and have never heard of a scotched egg make this your first stop! We have had guests from all over the world with us and every opportunity we have to bring them to this awesome shop for one of their unbelievable scotched eggs we do! These scotched eggs are hand made by Kevin and Beth using their secret ingredient and recipe and it shows. They are by far the best scotched egg out there and one of the most tasty food we have ever had. Don’t miss them, they are seriously good.

Cotswold Baguettes Instagram

 

The Hive – Scones

Right next to the Porch House, famously known for being the oldest pub in England is a cute, fresh, fun café called The Hive When you walk into The Hive you will most likely be greeted by a friendly staff member and an amazing display of gorgeous cakes. There’s plenty food and drinks that will be totally appealing on the menu for both full hearty meals and sweet treats, but we want to rave about is their freshly baked homemade Scones. There’s three to choose from depending on what you’re after, Plain, Fruit and Cheese all as heavenly as each other. Not only are they huge, light and fluffy but the flavours are outstanding. The Plain sugar-coated scone is our go to. Paired with their clotted cream, homemade rhubarb compote and strawberry jam, you will be totally blown away with deliciousness! In our option they are the best scones hands down. The Hive has a lovely atmosphere for a fun breakfast or lunch.

The Hive Stow Instagram

Cotswold tours and travel- best-food- cotswolds- scones- the hive- stow-on-the-wold-- snack- quick- delicious Cotswold tours and travel- best-food- cotswolds- scones- the hive- stow-on-the-wold-- snack- quick- delicious - cakes

 

Bakery on the Water- Raspberry Custard Danish

In the gorgeous little village of Bourton-on-The-Water you can find pretty water views, lots of cafes & ice cream shops and the most delicious bakery, Bakery on the Water This amazing bakery is family run producing pastries, cakes, quiches, and all the fixing you’d want to put on their gorgeous homemade breads. All of their baking is done with ingredients that are locally sourced and with recipes that have been passed down through generations. Although there isn’t much to fault at Bakery on the Water what keeps us coming back for me is their tasty Raspberry Custard Danish, its insanely good. The pastry is exactly what you want with a fluffy light texture but perfect crunch, the custard is smooth and velvety with vanilla flavour with ripe and fresh raspberries on top! Its perfect for a quick morning treat on-the-go, you can grab one to enjoy whilst you stroll around the village or to eat in with a warm cup of coffee and river view.

Bakery On The Water Instagram

 

Broadway Deli – Sausage Roll

The Broadway Deli is located on the charming high street of Broadway. The Broadway deli is as cute as it gets. From the farm fresh display at the entrance to the unbelievable collection of foods, jams, drinks and condiments from all over the world in the shop, it’s a fabulous place to just pop in. Their restaurant has a good menu and the deli shop has plenty to choose from. And if you’re after something British, homemade and hearty, their Sausage Roll is where it’s at! The golden, light, flaky pastry that melts in your mouth, with a delicious meaty filling of locally sourced pork sausage. This savoury pastry snack is perfect for any meat lover and one of our all-time favourites. If you find yourself in the beautiful village of Broadway, make sure you stop in and try one of their amazing sausage rolls! Easy to grab on the go or sit in and enjoy.

Broadway Deli Instagram

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