the Cotswolds

Pottering Around the Cotswolds

We started out nice and early with a view to arriving in the Cotswolds early afternoon, and all was going well until we reached the outskirts of Bristol. We were stuck in a traffic jam for over 2 hours. We finally arrived at our first site, just outside Marlborough just after 4.30pm. Nik and I had blistering headaches from sitting in the heat for so long. Not a good start to the holiday.

Marlborough Town Hall, Wiltshire, UK
Marlborough Town Hall, Wiltshire, UK

We had the field to ourselves which meant we could let Oscar run around without worrying about him visiting other campers when we weren’t looking. As it was already late in the afternoon we decided to have something to eat before going for an explore in the woodland that was opposite our site. We had to walk through a large farm yard to get to the woods, giving Oscar a chance to see some chickens. Luckily he was on his lead as they saw him and ran. Oscar still adopts the view that if it runs he must chase. We had been told by the farmer that once we reach the woods we should follow the path until it splits into eight paths, then we would have 4000 acres of woodland to explore. We did this, ignoring all the little paths that looked interesting along the way only to discover that the split was so far away it was nearly dark by the time we’d reached it.
Conclusion! If we had been riding bikes it wouldn’t have taken us long to reach the split and we would have had time for lots of exploring. However, walking along a gravel path with teenagers and a dog was pretty boring for us.

Monday morning we all woke up nice and early to a very bouncy Oscar and glorious sunshine. Nik took him for a walk whilst us girls got dressed and tidied up ready for a visit to Marlborough.
Whilst not a large town it had lots of interesting shops to explore, something for all of us. This is the first time we have taken Oscar around the shops and we were very pleased with him. He was a little pulley on the lead but each time we went into shops (one of us would stay with Oscar), he sat quietly and waited. We managed to finish exploring the town just as the sun was starting to get too hot for dragging a fluffy dog around a busy high street, which was a bonus. The afternoon was spent at Avebury investigating the stones. I actually managed to get the girls to pose for a picture for the first time in years, big bonus. Marisa spent the whole time we were there cracking typical teen jokes about the fact that Nik and I where fascinated with the stones. We finished our day with a walk along one of the smaller tracks in the wood, which was much more enjoyable for us all. We all prefer to feel that we’re exploring unexplored areas of woodland than to follow a gravel path.

Stone circles at Avebury, Wiltshire, UK
Stone circles at Avebury, Wiltshire, UK

Oscar decided to spend the night on our bed last night and because Katie’s bed is made up from the settee, where he usually sleeps when the girls aren’t with us, we let him. We woke up hot and tired and decided that he wouldn’t be on our bed at night again, ha ha ha. The sun was already hot when we woke up so we took Oscar for a long walk in the woods before setting off for the day, just encase we had to leave him in Daisy while we were in Cirencester, because it would be cooler for him than dragging around the shops. As it turned out it was cooler at Cirencester so Oscar came with us. There was so much to explore here that we ended up spending the whole day and didn’t have time to go anywhere else, so we went straight to our next site when we finished here.
Nik and I where looking forward to staying here as it boasted natures trails. Unfortunately these turned out to be untended areas that once we’d fought our way through, only turned out to be 10 minute walks before dead ending. Such a shame. On the plus side Oscar has learnt that there is always shade under Daisy, so that has become his new favourite spot.

Tourist at Arlington Row, Bibury, Gloucestershire, UK
Tourist at Arlington Row, Bibury, Gloucestershire, UK

Wednesday. We started our day with a quick visit to Bibury, which according to William Morris is the prettiest village in the Cotswolds. It is very pretty and has one of the most photographed streets in the land but we wouldn’t call it the prettiest. While we were there it became very obvious that the village is visited by a rather large number of Japanese tourists, so much so that all the notices around the village are written in both languages. Good to see. It is very busy here considering it’s just a pretty village. We never intended to stay long, just wanted the opportunity to photograph it as well.
Bourton-on-the-Water was our main destination for the day. This village in our opinion was far prettier than Bibury. The sun was out and hot and the village was jam packed with people either enjoying the many little shops that follow the river, playing by or in the river or taking advantage of the many restaurants and cafes here. The river runs through the middle of the village and while we where here, the perfectly clear water was only about ankle deep, so was filled with dogs and children happily playing in it. We all had a fantastic day here.

People enjoying the summer heatwave by the River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, UK
People enjoying the summer heatwave by the River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, UK

Our evening walk can only be described as interesting. The site we were staying in has a public footpath running along it’s boundaries so we where hoping to get a good evening walk on the two nights we where staying here. The site owner advised us that the path leading out towards the hills was by far the best walk, so taking her advice we set off. It soon became obvious that she hasn’t walked it for a while, indeed nobody had. We had to hack our way through very tall weeds and because it was surrounded by fields of sheep there where no little holes for Oscar to crawl through so we had to carry him over the styles. By the time we’d hacked our way through our third fields worth of weeds we were all very hot and tired. Oscar had given up trying to run through large patches of thistles and had to be carried over them, pampered dog, tch. So we had a little rest and made our way back to Daisy. The whole experience reminded me of the children’s book ‘we’re going on a Bear hunt’. Our son’s would have loved it. We did manage to stumble across a foxes haunt which was littered with bones, dead birds and small animals. Stunk to high heaven, but was interesting to see.
Thursday! Was our 22nd Wedding Anniversary so we celebrated by dragging the girls around quaint little Cotswold villages. We started at Stow-on-the-Wold which is my idea of a stereo typical Cotswold village. Yellow stone buildings and the village centre hasn’t changed since it was built, so has the ability to transport you back to war time Britain. There was street side seating outside the cafes that matched the sleepy, slower pace of the place. Nik was a little disappointed as the weather was quite overcast so he couldn’t get the pictures he had been hoping for.
We then moved on to Moreton-in-Marsh which is also very pretty and busy. Here we split with the girls so they could wonder the shops while we wondered the town looking at the beautiful buildings and of course photographing them. Our idea of a perfect day.

Horse meeting a Oscar
Horse meeting a Oscar

In the evening Katie joined us for our walk, this time we went the other way which leads to the village of Honeybourne. Nik had been looking at a church tower from our site so our ultimate aim was to find the church. Our walk took us past a field that housed a beautiful horse who on seeing us came over to say hello. Whilst we where all occupied with the horse Oscar was being very well behaved and ignoring him. The horse had other plans however, he decided that he wanted to meet Oscar, so stretched his head over the fence and went nose to nose with our little boy. We were all obviously quite shocked and nervous of how Oscar was going to react so it was such an awe inspiring moment when he greeted the horse. He did eventually decide that it was a bit too scary for him and ran off barking but this didn’t spoil the moment at all, especially as the horse wasn’t at all bothered by his barking. We did eventually find our church and where quite surprised to find that it had been turned into a home. So we had to all stand and discuss the merits of living in an old church (Nik and Katie both wanted the bedroom in the tower), before starting our trip back to Daisy.

Cotswold Lavender, Snowshill, Worcestershire, UK
Cotswold Lavender, Snowshill, Worcestershire

Friday. We spent the morning at Cotswold Lavender, my idea of heaven. Nik doesn’t mind it either as he gets to take lots of photos. After walking round the field of lavender we had a little wonder around the shop looking at all the wonderful lavender products. Marisa was especially keen to find something to buy here as she had promised her boyfriend’s mum that she would bring her back some fridge magnets for her collection. Whilst here Nik and I decided that when we grow up and buy our bit of land, to go with the chickens and Nik’s four piggys we will also have a field of lavender so I can spell it all summer, good for the bees and butterflies too.
Our afternoon was spend at Stratford-upon-Avon. We’ve been here before but as it has a town for the girls and a beautiful scenic river to wonder along for Nik and myself we all enjoy a trip here and despite the fact we got rained on, we all had a lovely afternoon here.

Saturday, was raining heavily all night and overcast when we woke up so we decided to take it nice and slow before setting off, our main aim for the day was to get to Worcestershire and meet up with out youngest son when he finished work for the day. We got soaked walking Oscar in the morning and couldn’t get hold of our site owner to make payment, grrrrr! It’s so annoying when you have to chase them to make payment before leaving.
Once we reach Worcester the weather had come out sunny so we parked in the lorry park to await Lawrence’s arrival and the girls took the opportunity to have a wonder around the town. We were sitting having a bit of a catch up with Lawrence, waiting for the girls to get back to us so we could steel him away for the night, when I got a text from Marisa telling me they couldn’t find their way back to us. We found this all very amusing because once Lawrence had spoken to her and found out where they where, it turned out they where only 5 minutes walk away and could almost see us from their position.
We decided to spend the night at a cl site within walking distance to the Severn Way, as like us Lawrence enjoys a good days walking. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement as it turned out the site was in the middle of a business centre that has traffic driving through it all night and day, even on a Sunday.

Lawrence
Lawrence

That evening we decided to take our first walk along the Severn Way toward Worcester. To start with it wasn’t easy to find the path and we ended up walking several paths in the wrong direction until we found the correct one. It was pure luck that we did eventually manage to stubble upon the correct path eventually, (we really should invest in some maps with footpaths shown on them). Once we reached the bottom of this path we where at a dead end, so had to retrace our steps to find a little blue arrow which would point us in the right direction. Nik eventually spotted it just inside the edge of a small area of woodland, it was mid evening at this point and the wood was so thick with trees it was very dark following the path. I commented on the fact that you’d need a torch to go this way if it got much darker, thinking we’d be back along this route before that happened to us, ha! On the other side of the wood we where in a quarry, a working one at that, luckily it was late and everyone had gone home for the night. As you can image Nik and Lawrence where in man heaven. Following the footpath through a quarry with mountains of, what ever it was, and big bad machines all over the place, not to mention one of those conveyor belt things that carries the rock or grit for what seemed like miles in to the heart of the quarry. I for one was glad it wasn’t in full working mode as we walked through it with a pooch. The next part of our walk was boring as we followed the conveyor along a graveled path in search of the next part of the path. It did take awhile to find it as a farmer had removed the fence post with the sign on and replaced it with a barbed wire fence, we found the post lying on the floor just under some bushes, (naught man). We would have walked through his field anyway, but by this time it was getting quite dark so we thought it best to start our journey back. Back through the woods it was so dark that I had to follow Oscar’s bottom as it glowed in the dark along the path. In all we had been walking for over an hour before we’d decided to turn back so where all a little disappointed that we hadn’t managed to find the river in this time.

Quarry Holt Heath, Worcestershire, UK
Quarry Holt Heath, Worcestershire, UK

Sunday morning we all got up a little late as we’d been playing board games into the wee hours. So while the girls where finishing in the bathroom Nik, Lawrence and I took Oscar for his morning walk and look for the path that leads the other way along the Severn Way. That done we headed back to Daisy for brunch before setting off for the day along our new route. The girls had wisely decided to have a rest day as the sun was already very hot and they know if Lawrence is with us, it’s going to be a long old walk. We had a lovely day but where also a little disappointed as we’d booked this site thinking we would be walking along a lovely tow path, and in fact the path we had to follow very rarely went close enough to the river to be able to see it. So we enjoyed the countryside instead. It is a shame though as Nik and I have been pretty disappointed with our choice in walks so far this holiday and we’d had high hopes for this one. The girls are enjoying all the shopping though. Unfortunately Lawrence had to back at work for Monday morning so we had to take him home at the end of the day. We had a lovely visit with him but where sad it was only one day.

Monday was a bit of a nothing day as we had to shop, do some washing and us girlies had to wash and restyle our hair. We where hoping to book a site somewhere around Malvern as we knew we’d get a great walk in here, but we hadn’t counted on there being a motorhome show in the area and everywhere was already booked up, so we ended up in a site in Hereford. Lawrence had told us there was a supermarket in Malvern so we thought we go there on our way and have wonder around the town at the same time. We think we may have stopped at the wrong part of the town as the shops we found where your bog standard hardware and veg. shops, hey ho. That done we set off for our new site gazing longingly at the Malvern Hills.

Malvern, Worcestershire, UK
Malvern, Worcestershire, UK

The sun was shinning nice and bright when we arrived which was handy for drying our clothes. We had to put Oscar on a long lead in this site as the caravan next to us also had a dog and he wanted to keep popping over to play. We also discovered free rage chickens wondering the site, so it was a good job he was tided up. After tea that night Nik and I took Oscar for a walk along the Wye Valley which was only two minutes walk from our site and turned out to be one of our best walks so far. The sun was still lovely and hot and the river we was very pretty with plenty of wildlife in and around it for us to watch. We had a lovely long walk and returned to Daisy happily warn out.
Whilst we were walking the girls had been showering and doing their hair and Nik and I were looking forward to our turn. Nik went first but what he hadn’t done before getting in the shower was check the water levels, the girls had been showering after all, so he only just managed to finish his shower as the water ran out. He wasn’t too pleased to have to refill the tank once he’d got all nice and clean so that I could take a turn.

Boat house on the banks of the River Wye, Herefordshire, UK
Boat house on the banks of the River Wye, Herefordshire, UK

Tuesday morning we woke up to rain, we’d had big plans for our morning walk along the river, we’d even set an alarm to get up early for it, but these plans involved Nik taking pictures with sunshine not rain so we had to give that one a miss. Nik decided to walk Oscar whilst I was getting washed as it was raining, Oscar it turns out doesn’t like walking in the rain. Nik took him back to the walk we’d from the night before as it’s safe to take him off his lead here, and let him off his. As soon as he was free Oscar turned tail and raced back to the site leaving Nik chasing after him. He’s never done that before, haha.
As the weather was none too good we decided to drive down to Gloucestershire in the hope that it was a bit nicer that way. We parked at our old favourite, Soul Junction, beside the canal so that if the weather doesn’t improve we at least have a fairly well marked out and dry tow path to walk along. Also we know this is a good walk waiting for us. Only Katie joined us for our evening walk, it looked as though it would rain the whole walk but it didn’t and we managed a really nice walk.
It rained heavily all night long which meant we had to close windows and vent, which in turn meant we were all very hot and to top it all because the rain was so heavy, the sound of it hitting the roof was very loud and it was distressing Oscar, so I spent a very uncomfortable night with a very hot a nervous dog curled up next to me.
The day started hot and sunny, yippee. We decided to visit Stroud as we’d never been here before and Nik had read there was a fantastic faerie shop in town, and I for one wa looking forward to paying it a visit.
We parked in a nice big car park by the station and started our walk into town. On our way through the car park Nik had seen a sign which said, to town center cross bridge railway bridge, and for some reason because it wasn’t pointing the same way as the road signs he decided to ignore it. None of the rest of us had seen the sign so we followed in complete trust. After pounding the pavement for 30 minutes (we even followed a canal for a while), in blistering heat, all of us girls with bright red cheeks, Oscar starting to wilt we did eventually find the town and could see Daisy in the car park we‘d left us in from our position at the top of the town. We’d gone in a wide arc to get here when if we’d followed the directions in the car park it would have taken us less than 5 minutes. Men! Surprisingly the girls didn’t give Nik much grief over this, I think they may just have been too hot.

Stroudwater Canal, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK
Stroudwater Canal, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK

Anyway, Stroud. What a lovely town it is. Not big, but also not too small, some quite old buildings down side streets for us too enjoy and the people here are absolutely lovely. Everyone is happy, including teenagers. There is a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere there. And everyone seems to love dogs, to the point that several locals told us and we heard several others very proudly announcing that “we like dogs in Stroud”. We get a lot of attention when we’re out with Oscar because he is like a teddy bear on a lead, but in Stroud it was constant, it felt like everyone wanted to say hello to him and stroke him. Luckily we all found it rather amusing. Whilst Marisa was waiting outside a shop with him people were stopping to talk to here. She was quite shocked. She said that this town was weird, adults where even speaking to her like she was a normal human not giving her attitude because she is a teenager.
We all really enjoyed our time in Stroud, which was a bit of a surprise as Nik and I were only expecting a boring shopping trip with a faerie shop thrown in for good measure. We found the shop while we where here and it is a most fantastic little shop. Many if not all of the fae and other creatures for sale were born no the premises. The whole shop was decorated in the style of a woodland with mythical creatures residing in every nook and cranny. It is well worth a visit.
When we finished and walked back to Daisy, in less than 5 minutes, the girls found their tongues and spent the whole drive back to our site ribbing Nik for his mistake. Our evening walk was along was spent following the public footpath from the canal in the direction of the Swan Inn. This was a lovely walk that vaguely follows the little river that meets the canal. It was a lovely warm evening with lots of pretty and interesting things to look as on the route. An enjoyable walk was had by all.

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Commonly known as Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, UK
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Commonly known as Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, UK

Thursday. As its was such a lovely sunny day we decided to visit Tewkesbury as we were thinking there were bound to be lots of old buildings there to keep Nik and myself happy and hopefully shops for the girls. We weren’t disappointed. Parking was good with a little space for bigger vehicles by the bowling club. The girls set off on their own as we wanted to visit the Abbey first. We were fascinated to find a Mulberry tree fenced off to stop people stepping on the fallen fruit and staining the Abbey floor. Beautiful building. We had lots of fun through the town looking at all the Tudor buildings. It’s very busy here but had all the different type of shops that keep all four of us happy. We then followed the signs for the river and had a wonder this way to while away the beautiful day. It is beautiful down there. One day wasn’t nearly enough time to truly explore so Nik and I have decided next time we’re in this area without the girls we’ll have to come back and stay at the CL Club site that is on the edge of the town.
On the way back to our site the girls decided they wanted to visit Stonehouse and see what was there. Oscar was very hot and tired and I’d had enough of shops for one day so we stayed in Daisy in the cool. They came back with their usual stash of books and just to add to the fun Nik came back with a huge wicker fruit basket in the shape of a cutter. Storing it was interesting.
Friday started pretty blooming chilly but by 9am it was already unbearably hot, so we quickly walked Oscar and set off for Dursley, not a lot there but we enjoyed ourselves for the morning. Next stop Tetbury, a lovely old market town with beautiful old stone houses and a lovely church. We split with the girls again here as we were more interested in wondering the back streets and looking and the old cottages and the church. The girls had fun shopping here so the town must be good too.

Our next site for the night was in Purton, right beside the canal. The site it’s self was pretty rough for the money we had to pay, but the walk along the canal that evening more than made up for it. As far as Nik is concerned this was the cherry on the top of the very sticky cake of our holiday. From our site we could see the masts of the tall ship ‘The Wonder’, which we knew would be coming along the canal on Tuesday next week along with four other tall ships for the festival in Gloucestershire at the weekend. This one must have arrived early. So, for our evening walk we trundled off on the direction of the estuary thinking that this was where it was anchored. We followed the road to it’s bottom past a lovely looking pub which we didn’t have time to sample as we didn’t have much time with the light. Following a footpath along the estuary we had a little giggle at the sign an obviously irate farmer had left at the beginning of the path which basically said “Stay to the footpath, no stopping or having picnics on his land and keep dogs on leads or they will be shot”. We shouldn’t have found it funny but the farmer has obviously had problems with people on his land and was obviously very cheesed off and the message read that way. Anyway, it turned out that this little and very muddy footpath led straight to the canal, so we may as well have gone that way to start with. Luckily the ship was on the canal which put Nik in photographer heaven. Whilst he was taking pictures Oscar and I found a plaque telling us all about a boat grave yard along the estuary, so we patiently waited for Nik to finish with the boat and led him down to the estuary. Again my hubby was in photography heaven, so much to photograph, he was like a child in a toy shop. The path through the ships lead back to the canal and we weren’t ready to turn back yet so we followed it until we came to the remains of the Severn Railway Bridge. Again Nik was in his element. This stretch of the canal is very pretty with lots of wildlife along it. We had a fantastic walk and got back to the girls just as it turned full dark.

Nik
Nik

We did the same walk all over again in the morning so Nik could get day light shots of everything. Was a really good walk. Oscar had fun as he accidentally put a pheasant up and chased it for a while. It was a fantastic walk. While Nik was photographing the Wonder we were invited on board. Unfortunately we had to decline as the girls where waiting for us to get back as we’d promised to finish the holiday in Glastonbury. Gutted!
Glastonbury is one of all of our favourite towns and we have to visit it at least once a year, so as the weather was gradually getting worse we thought this was a fitting end to our holiday.
Every time we visit Glastonbury something stops Nik from getting the perfect picture. One year the shutter on his camera was stuck half open, one year it was over cast and so on. This year we were arriving in the middle of summer on a Saturday so he had high hopes. We arrived, the sun was out and we walked onto town. Then it started raining. All of us were in summer clothes and not dressed for rain. The rain was quite light most of the time and not constant so it didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. Nik didn’t manage to get the pictures he was after again though. Just as we started our walk back to Daisy the heavens opened up. So Nik had a great idea to take a short cut. This short cut turned out to be twice as long and the normal route so we all arrived back soak through to the bone. Nik got yet another ribbing for his sense of direction.

Dunster, Somerset, UK
Dunster, Somerset, UK

Our last night was spent of Exmore, one of my favourite places and before we started for home we paid a visit to Minehead, another of the families favourites. Again it was a lovely sunny day when we arrived so nobody put coats on. Minutes after arriving in the town the weather changed. Nik had noticed steam trains on the platform of the train station so darted in to get some photo’s. Mean time us girls headed for cover and stood shivering on a windy and slightly wet platform for what seemed like hours. In reality it was probably only really about 20 minutes. After he had finished the sun came out and we managed to have a very nice time in the town without getting we or too cold. It didn’t take us long though as we’ve been here so often we know which shops not to bother with any more, so as the weather had stayed out Katie suggested we pay a visit to Dunster as it is just down the road. We have never visited here for some reason so it was nice to find somewhere new in this part of the world. The village is beautiful, all old stone cottages. However it is also a little but of a snob and only really caterers for the yuppies of the world. Didn’t stop us having a good time and we did manage to find a shop filled with things Nik’s Mum would love, so we have decided to go back near Christmas and pick her up a few trinkets. No point getting them now as we’d forget where we put them.

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