My husband looks well, despite it only being a little over three months ago, when we didn’t know if he would live or die, whilst intubated in ICU fighting for his life, after contracting Covid-19 pneumonia. The path to wellness is indeed an interesting one.
I’m recognising the firsts which are happening.
We enjoyed our first break away together at a vineyard in the Surrey Hills, as soon as lockdown was lifted and hotels opened. Standing atop a hillside toasting his survival in british bubbly.
This trip to the Cotswolds had been on our list for the last two years as we traversed our country – through `Dorset, Yorkshire, The Lake District, Pennines & Peak District. We’ve been exploring the UK as we hadn’t seen much of our own country. Most of our travels had been across the other side of the world.
We’d booked a hotel called The Crown of Crucis in Ampney Crucis, close to Cirencester, both looking forward to a couple of nights away. Having always wanted to visit and yet not knowing if we’d like it. This always something which piques my curiosity, recognised and reignited within myself, when we travelled for the first time through Thailand many years ago. It reminded me to trust the vibe I detected, rather than think the thoughts of a place – I realised this tells me more about where I am, than any guidebook. An inner radar. I trust in it now.
This two night short break away, we decided would be a road trip. So our base was to ensure we could access as much as the Cotswolds as we could during it.
The one thing we couldn’t have factored in was the vibe we picked up in a few of the places. The Cotswolds may be a tourist destination but in the face of a pandemic – did the locals want us there. In some places it felt a definite no – in others, everything seemed back to normal – which was actually disconcerting!
Oh my, how I loved the honey coloured cotswold stone though…
We didn’t as much visit Bibury as we made our way to the hotel – more happen upon it. Such a beautiful little village. Exactly how I imagined the Cotswolds to be.
We walked along Arlington Row built back in 1380 and took a really interesting tour around the Bibury Trout Farm. They truly are a beautiful fish and this always causes me consternation when I see them alive and enjoying life as they swim around.
Each year up to 10 million Rainbow Trout are spawned, up to one third being sold to outlets throughout Britain and occasionally abroad. The remainder are grown on and sold principally to restock rivers, lakes and reservoirs throughout the country. Local hotels and restaurants are supplied with trout as well as the fish counter at the farm shop. Bibury.com
Yet – if you are a fish eater, you can book a bbq and then fish for your own trout, you know to cook and eat. This seemed like a mighty fine idea but I was happier to observe!
There was a different entrance and exit in the shop, to allow for social distancing and the attitude and helpfulness of the staff was good. Clean and organised. But it was the little village which charmed me – I wondered how the locals felt being spied and eyed upon. I suppose you wouldn’t move to somewhere like this if you didn’t want to be part of a tourist attraction – although when we later visited the little village of Lower Slaughter, as we walked to the old Mill, one of the houses had signs up telling tourists to stay home, not visit and not take photos – although the feel I got, was the complete opposite was possible, but we respected their request and didn’t fulfil the desire to do so.
The local pub had a lovely garden to sit and whilst away a warm summer afternoon but parking locally outside of the hotel and pub grounds a challenge as so small but for us, we had chosen the right choice in doing a road trip – as although we saw the many cyclists and walkers enjoying themselves – a little paddle in the stream was enough for me and a desire to drive through these gorgeous places an enjoyable challenge for us both. Defibrillators on display in old fashioned red telephone boxes, really tickled my fancy. Quintessentially english and completely repurposed!
Our hotel was sweet enough and the receptionist explained fully the one way system which had been implemented due to Covid 19. It worked well for us as our room faced onto the beer garden, which was quiet and had a little stream running at the back of the hotel – so the view was quintessentially english and perfectly divine for my liking. Although the ceilings were low and it felt a little like being in a box – the wifi not that brilliant.
We booked to eat in the hotel restaurant that night as it was our anniversary and I felt dissatisfied with being seated in the bar – requested to move but not being able to. This made me feel a tad annoyed at myself for not booking in advance and expressing what my needs were. You could see the stress the staff were under to fulfil added duties, under the new regime and from our perspective, another one or two would have sorted out the challenges, which did filter down and become part of the guest experience.
I think one of the best things about the hotel restaurant though, was the very good breakfast which was included in our room price. It was full english, not greasy, mushrooms tasted divine but again I found the service lacking.
On arriving in Bourton on the Water – we decided to simply drive through and not stop. Although very pretty described as Venice of the Cotswolds, tourist numbers were quite high and social distancing, if walking on the little pavements seemed a tad difficult. So a quick pass through with an admiring glance and we were on our way!
Stow on the Wold was larger and easier to wander around and although there didn’t seem like a lot going on, I thought it had a really nice feel to it. We parked ourselves on a bench to eat our sandwiches before being on our way. We’d driven through Burford and Wychavon also, snaking our way to Broadway at the top end of the Cotswolds – where we took a windy circular walk to purvey the hillside and its outstanding view, sitting outside the tower coffee house, enjoying a cup of tea and cake, before finally making our way back to the hotel around 5 pm.
We’d left the hotel around 10 am – so it was a good day of exploring in a way which suited us both. Driving for Vin and walking for me. A little bit of us. It was enough.
When we’d arrived the day before – which was about lunchtime, we took ourselves to the local golf course at Oaksey and enjoyed 9 holes on the course. Our way of settling into our 31st wedding anniversary and the first time we had played in so long. It felt good to stand by the side of my man – again the thought turning to the fact that he could have died from Covid 19 just a short while before.
It was just the two of us – a place we have both been happy within our marriage and a great way to start this short break adventure.