Recently Dave and I, along with two good friends, set off for a vacation in Southern England and Scotland. We travelled to London where we met up with our eldest daughter and her husband, who had already spent a week exploring.
We set off in our hired van, called a people mover in England, and thanks to the sat/nav made our way to the Cotswold village of Long Compton. We had made arrangements to rent a four bedroom cottage for ten days exploring this part of England.
The cottage was lovely, over three hundred years old. It had originally been a single storey but had been built up into a three storey home. The ground floor was all low beams and it didn’t take long until most of us had egg sized bumps on our heads. Everything had been modernized and was wonderfully outfitted for our needs. There was a big bathroom on both upper floors and a laundry room with washer and drier. However, the weather was warm enough to dry clothes on lines in the big walled garden.
We had imagined strolling down into the village and bringing home fresh baked goods and veggies however, the reality was a post office that also offered tired produce, a big pub that served wonderful meals and a bridal salon. It seemed really incongruous that with only two stores in the village, one of them was a bridal store. How many people in this tiny village of thatched cottages required a wedding dress?
It was only a ten minute ride to a bigger town and groceries so we didn’t go hungry. Every day we journeyed to surrounding towns and villages experiencing and enjoying rural England. So many of the homes were over three hundred years old and newer homes had been built in the same Cotswold stone, which is a pale yellow, nothing ultra modern and ugly had been allowed to spoil the area.
Each day as we journeyed out we stopped for meals, sometimes in pubs and sometimes for the “cream teas” that this area is famous for. A cream tea consists of two large current scones, which you split and butter. You then smear with strawberry jam and load up with clotted cream, yummy. This is accompanied with either tea or coffee and it is really a very filling meal, quite often we split it between two of us and each had plenty to eat.
This part of England is truly made up of postcard worthy villages complete with old mills with water wheels, village ponds with ducks, charming country inns and tea rooms. A short drive away is Oxford and its university spires, such lovely old buildings which will never be replicated as they require so much workmanship. Stonehenge is not far away and many other ancient stones with mystical histories.
I don’t know why but England has given its towns and villages strange names. I am sure that most of them have some story behind but they make for strange signposts. Ashby de la Zouche being one of the strangest, but there are hundreds of weird names that do not seem to be representative of the area.
However, I can truly recommend this form of vacation, having our own cottage as a base made for a very easy holiday. Although we wanted to see the old world charm of English villages, we truly appreciated all the modern conveniences our cottage had to offer.