It’s Sunday night (here in England at least), we are relaxing by the fire in our latest holiday house, and it’s time to reflect on the week that was. Here are some of the highlights.
On Monday we packed up a little picnic and headed off for a day in the Cotswolds. I actually thought we had been in the Cotswolds all this time, but Pete laughingly corrected me, saying that we had never entered them, but had been staying just on the edge of them. So off we went. Our aim was to get to Chipping Campden, Broadway, and Guiting Power (we didn’t quite make it to the third), all recommended to us by our lovely hosts.
We were instantly enchanted by the beautiful villages we came across. The Cotswolds really are a beautiful part of the world (and of course we kept thinking how much better it would all be in summer). We’ve found that these English villages have the wonderful ability to be mostly uniform in their design, but never boring, and with their own character and charm.
At Chipping Campden we hopped out of the car and walked around the village, taking a look at the ancient church and surrounding graveyard (Elena saw the tombstones and thought they were houses that people lived in – Pete very delicately skirted around the idea, while I explained quite bluntly that that was where dead bodies went). The main street had really nice little shops and tea rooms everywhere – we love it here, everywhere serves ‘cream tea’, which is essentially just scones with jam and cream but we are finding that we are craving scones pretty much ALWAYS.
Broadway we liked even more, and we stopped at a fun little tea shop which I can’t help feeling like both our mums would have loved – for different reasons (antiques + jams/chutneys – I rest my case). Hot chocolates were the order of the day and for some reason Pete ordered Elena a peanut butter and banana flavour milkshake – not as fun tasting as it sounds 😝
Windy Castle (aka Broadway Tower)
A highlight of the day was stumbling upon Broadway Tower, or, as we called it, Windy Castle for those Peppa pig fans out there (Peppa is one of Elena’s 3 loves at the moment). This was cool, and a castle, so naturally we had to stop and go up to the top. It was actually freezing on this hill and at this castle, so cold that even Elena was saying it was “chee ee” (Chilly) – to put this into perspective, Elena takes pretty much any opportunity to take her jacket and especially her shoes off, and I couldn’t count the number of times I have said with gritted teeth, “do NOT take your shoes off right now”.
Broadway Tower is actually a ‘folly’ – a structure built for decoration but pretending to be something way cooler, like a beacon tower or stronghold. It was built by an architect for his wife, so it is sometimes called ‘Lady Coventry’s folly’.
Pizza and Playgroup
Tuesday’s activity was going to the Pizza Hut buffet at Banbury – Pete’s wish was to recreate some of the best times of his childhood (and who am I kidding, all of our childhood’s). I am afraid that, while it was a nice time together, as an adult, Pizza Hut buffet is pretty disappointing. They didn’t even have bolognaise pasta. Enough said.
Wednesday I went to a local playgroup in the local village of Prior’s Marsten. It was recommended to me by our lovely new friend Annette, who went out of her way to suggest some things for us to do. It was a nice morning chatting to some local mum’s while Elena adoringly followed the older girls around, with Kilian wriggling around sucking and gnawing on new toys.
On Thursday we bundled up and headed off for a day in Oxford. We downloaded a self guided walking tour route and followed that to various landmarks and so many colleges. I didn’t realise there were so many colleges in Oxford. We literally walked past one every two minutes. The Ashmolean Museum was one of the first things we visited, full of ancient mummies and medieval weaponry (we actually only looked at one floor, so there must be more to the museum than that). It was a great museum and it would have been good to see more.
A highlight of the day was going to Christ Church Cathedral, a very impressive place in itself, but add to that the fact that the Hogwarts Great Hall was based on the Great Hall in the Cathedral – well, need I say more? It was super busy which took away from the magic a bit but this was pretty cool.
Friday we went to Blenheim Palace. We had to and fro-ed about this one, as it was really pricey, but we decided, castle. And that was kind of the end of it. And oh wow, was this a castle. No actually, it was a palace! This place was really impressive. It reminded us a lot of Versailles (travel snob moment). The palace was grand, gilt and gorgeous. It was majestic and beautifully decorated, and the grounds were incredible.
Part of the grounds have been redeveloped into a family fun area called the Pleasure Garden’s, featuring a hedge maze (this was coooool and very lose-y, if you know what I mean… lost-y?), adventure playground, lavender garden, butterfly house (these last two were unfortunately closed for the winter). It was a really fun part of our day, especially for Elena. She loved running around the maze and playing at the playground (this was the first outdoor playground she has played at in England so far). She was disappointed that we couldn’t go on the mini-a-ture locomotive (Peppa anyone?) and fairly unimpressed by the palace itself (is she my child??). Toddler opinions aside, it was an excellent day out and well worth the visit!
Now we’ve come to the end of our time in Prior’s Hardwick, and are currently in Somerset in a really lovely little airbnb surrounded by fields and deer and lambs. We’ve just found out we are very near the home of Cheddar, and looking forward to the next couple of days of exploring. Catch you soon!