Country life in the Cotswolds

18 Nov

The last couple of weeks have been a relaxing time in the Cotswolds, catching up with Matt’s family and friends. For those who haven’t been able to visit this beautiful countryside, the Cotswolds is…

… a range of hills in west central England, an area 25 miles across and 90 miles long. It lies mainly within the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire but extend into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

The pace of life amongst the villages is slower here. It’s a place where the roads have only room for one, where gypsies steal the roadsigns for their metal, where people know their neighbours and the postie is important.  Here where Matt’s dad lives, Somerford Keynes, there was a ‘Save Dave’ campaign.  Dave was the village’s postie.  He knew everyone by name, wore shorts all year round and if there was some money owing on a post packet he’d pay it for the resident and they’d pay him back later.  When Dave went in for his second hip replacement operation, the Post’s Head Office replaced the round with someone else and when he was better it wasn’t assigned back to him.  That is, until Somerford Keynes’ decided to pipe up. They ran a petition and stuck of their ‘Save Dave’ posters and when we caught up for a cheeky pint in the pub with Dave, he reported he is now officially back on the Somerford Keynes round!

Now, just when you could be forgiven for thinking not alot happens in little ol’ Cotswolds, excavations in Cirencester have unearthed one of the earliest burial sites ever found in Roman Britain.  The dig at the former Bridges Garage on Tetbury Road has uncovered over 40 burials and four cremations. Go Ciren!

The first weekend we headed down to Brighton in the UK for the Guy Fawkes Night.  Brighton has a similar vibe to Melbourne – pretty much anything goes. The first morning we arrived, we all went clay pigeon shooting. Roy, Hughesy and Matt ‘The Assassin’ are a very funny trio. After much teasing, rolling up of the jeans, and consulting of our ‘Pigeon Shooting’ manual, The Assassin turned up the winner on 16/25, followed by Roy and Lisa both with 12, me on 11 and poor Hughesy not able to get out of single digits on 8.

We had originally planned to head into Lewes for bonfire night and the traditional running of the flaming tar barrels (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, YouTube it) but as rain had been forecast we thought we’d just create our own firework extravanganza at home. Am fairly sure we broke all the rules for setting them off but it was ridiculously fun and definitely up there as a highlight of  ‘Things you can’t do in Oz’.

The night finished with a few card games of ‘Cheat’ and far too many shots of Roy’s speciality, Creme de Menthe & Gin. It actually does taste like mouth wash.  Cheers for having us Nicky & Roy – hope the grass has started to grow over the burn marks by now.

Had brekkie at Bill’s in town then wandered through the lanes, before saying farewell to the crew.  We caught up with MC’s friend Dan and his wife Sandra, where Dan regaled us with his recent adventure.  He’d been hiking and exploring an old mine shaft with his 73-old dad, when his dad slipped breaking his foot. When Dan went to go after him to help, he too slipped also breaking his foot, but scarily breaking his back as well. To make things worse, they had no phone signal and were cold and wet, so both had to suck up the pain and hobble their way out of this mine, before being rescued suffering hypothermia from the side of the mountain. Incredible.

We then stopped in and shared a cheeky bottle of red with some of Matt’s old neighbours, Jason & Jo, who regaled us with stories of their South American trip and gave us their tips and tricks for staying safe and avoid the nasty altitude sickness.

Wanting to head for dinner at an old favourite of ours, La Bodega, in Brighton, we decided not to drive back to the Cotswolds and stopped in at the myhotel for the night. While an excellent location, it is really quite an ugly and stuffy hotel. It was allowed to slide when they checked us into a room obviously intended for someone else – a Mr & Mrs Joyce –  and we thoroughly enjoyed their free cocktail at the bar. MC’s contained 60% proof booze and they lit it on fire and poured it between jugs before throwing cinnamon at it to spark up like fire crackers.  Very impressive!

Another highlight for this leg of the trip was visiting ‘Stonehenge‘ or ‘Stonehedge’ as I ended up referring to it as. The sun was blazing for us at a very toasty 12C which made the wander through the grounds quite enjoyable. You hear about the different rocks and where they’re from, but fundamentally they are unable to say with absolute certainty exactly how or why these enormous rocks came to be there. Your imagination is as good as theirs.

Enjoyed a really nice couple of days out on the bike with MC.  Headed out to Stroud Farmers Market and then rode through beautiful back lanes of the Cotswolds and along rolling hills before stopping for a pint of cider at The Green Dragon. An excellent day was topped up with a merry dinner at Val & Roger’s place with Ian & Hillary, Ginger & Heather, and Andy & Debs. 3 desserts of pudding & icrecream, cheese, and after-dinner chocolates, made me a very happy gal indeed!

The bike also took us down to Bath. A UNESCO Heritage listed site, Bath is brimming with beautiful sights and stunning architecture.  We caught up with Missy for a cheeky pint and a bite to eat at Brown’s, then checked out the Royal Crescent and the Circus before rugging up for the cold ride home.

We spent a fair bit of time pottering around the many antique stores that are here.  Tetbury is the home of great antique stores and I got Craig a superb Christmas gift here.  I expect to win sister of the year award for this one.

There’s been many a dinner out.  Enjoyed Indian in Cirencester with Ian’s crew for Ging’s birthday plus quite a few ciders in The Bakers Arms, our local, and q bunch of pub dinners in surrounding villages.  A few recommendations should you end up out this way:

  • The best food I’ve enjoyed this time around is at  The Wheatsheaf in Oaksey. And the gals behind the bar – Soph& Candy – are always up for a yarn and a good laugh.
  • The Wild Duck is an oldie but a goodie. It gets busy so service can be hit and miss, but it has big wooden tables for slapping your cider down and a cosy fire to cuddle around.
  • New up and comer is definitely The Butcher’s Arms in Oakridge Lynch. MC and I were tipped off after a chat around the fire at The Duck (see above). It’s freshly changed hands and a young couple are making a good go of it – he’s clearly got talent in the kitchen and a nose for sourcing good produce – so as long as they can get the patrons in, I reckon it can only get better.
  • Others that we’ve visited before and didn’t get a chance to head back to this time are The Horse & Groom and The Crown Inn# at Frampton Mansell.

We’re off to The Potting Shed for one last dinner with Matt’s mum Norma tonight.  At this rate we’re going to be rolling into South America!

A very special thank you to Matt’s dad Ian and mum Norma.  While staying at Ian’s place the last few weeks we’ve been spoilt with many delicious roast dinners, I’ve gobbled down most of his chocolates, and we roasted chestnuts inside his fire (Ian’s tip:  you know they’re ready when you hear one explode).  And to Norma for her beautiful little presents and for being such a joy to be around. Will miss our little chats over a quiet glass of red.

Thank you so much to all MC’s friends.  The good times and all the laughter has left us with lots of warm fuzzies from this leg of the trip.

And thanks to the weather god for not raining too much on me this time!

We will miss you all.  Til next time guys, bah bye!

x kel

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2 Responses to “Country life in the Cotswolds”

  1. Brendan November 21, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Hi Kelly, sounds like you are having an absalute ball……enjoy South America – safe passage
    Cheers

  2. Roy November 21, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Comparing the legs / ankles of Matt Pipe Cleaner Cusworth and mine and still reckon I got the best ones!!! Cracking site… Will keep checking on your progress… Have a ball… x Roy & Nick

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