Monday, 17 August 2015

Picturesque country towns

Chipping Campden

The Cotswold’s is one of the most picturesque areas of England. Think beautiful old buildings, country lanes, narrow windy roads, beautiful old pubs and unusual names that come from old Saxon words.

No, it's not a camera distortion, they are crooked
Here are some of their meanings:
- Lower slaughter means lower marshland
- Cots means sheep pen and wold means on the hill, so Cotswold = sheep pen on the hill
- Stow means sheep, so Stow on the wold = sheep on the hill

the roads haven't got any wider

On my morning walk through the town of Paxford I noticed a sign saying “Public Footpath” that pointed across a field. I had noticed these before and wondered where they went. So when I came to the another path on the other side of the church and saw a woman walking her dog, I decided to follow her. No I’m not a stalker, but you can’t really see any track as it’s over grass, so I needed help. She walked over the bridge I had seen the sheep run over earlier and out through a stile on the far side of the paddock and disappeared into the bushes. Moments later her dog came running back over the stile and starting rounding up the sheep. He was having a lovely time. She ran after him and I watched and laughed while within a couple of minutes he had them round up into a nice little circle. All, but one. At that point she called out “help me, help me!”. So I ran over, the herd of sheep ran past me, which just left Bugsy with the lone sheep. I cut him off from running the sheep over to the herd, so he ran it down to the river! His owner ran after him and brought him back up, put his leash back on and asked me if I could hold him. She then went back sloshing about in the brook until the sheep came back up. Lucky she had her gumboots on, though I realised later that they were for another reason. When I got back to the town footpath, I had to clean my shoes, I had after all been walking and running in a sheep paddock! I didn’t realise how serious this was at the time. A farmer is allowed to shoot any dog interfering with his livestock.

Grave stones in the church yard
The public footpaths crisscross the countryside as it is a far quicker way to get from point A to B and safer than walking along the roads as there is only enough room for cars, narrow single or double lanes and nowhere to stand off even if you do hear a car coming as the roads around here are flanked by high dense bushes. When you are driving on a single road that is two-way, one of you needs to back back until you can find a widening of the road built for this purpose, even then, you have the other car has to pass you very carefully.

One of the houses, nearly all of them have fences like this
There are numerous pretty country towns in the area such as Chipping Camden, Blockley, Broad Camden, Lower Slaughter, Stow on the Wold and Boughton on the water. With the last being so busy we couldn’t find a carpark anywhere, so we just drove around and left. Parking is difficult in nearly all of the towns especially in the peak tourist season, sometimes there just isn't any. At one place there was six parking spaces just outside the town, which we luckily got one.

William Shakespeare's house
I was slightly disappointed in Stratford upon Avon, it’s big and very touristy with lots and lots of people.

The place I wanted to stay in Chipping Campden was closed due to a family wedding so they recommended a B&B in nearby Paxford, which was only 2½ miles away. Not quite the old world charm of the area, but on the positive side it was modern and spacious. The only places to eat out are the country pubs but many close on Sundays and Mondays which made it difficult on these nights to go to places we preferred, so had to go to one place twice.

the Baker's Arms - a great meal on our last night

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