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Visit The Cotswolds For The Holiday Of A Lifetime
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Ah! The Cotswolds! It’s the largest AONB in the country. Yes, we know that in the 21st century everyone likes to reduce things to a set of initials. Whether this is just to save space or whether it is to say “if I understand it and you don’t then somehow I must be cleverer than you” we don’t know. It simply stands for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and indeed it is. There are approximately 800 square miles of it, which makes the area a third as big again as London, and it includes parts of five counties – the Shires – Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, and Warwickshire.
The Cotswolds are stunningly beautiful. This is natural English countryside at its’ very finest. You will hear the words “honey-coloured” bandied about, but it is true. The bricks and stonework of many of the cottages and other buildings are really the colour of honey and lend an atmosphere of calm to this glorious part of England.
Gloucester is a wonderful town, and is the birthplace of double Gloucester cheese. On Spring Bank Holiday every year the locals – or some of them who might be regarded as either very brave or innately stupid – undertake the Annual Cheese Rolling & Wake at Cooper’s Hill when they chase a wheel of double Gloucester cheese down it in order to be first at the bottom. Health and Safety officials would (and probably do) go nuts about it, but they have yet been unable to find a way of stopping it or making participants cover themselves in 25lbs of cotton wool.
Talking of wool, one of the finest towns in the Cotswolds is Chipping Camden which is famed for its’ High Street of terraced houses which are between 300 and 600 years old. It is home to the Woolstaplers Hall which was for centuries visited by buyers from around the world eager to purchase the fine Cotswold fleeces that were sold here. Chipping Camden is also a market town, the word “Chipping” being derived from the Old English “ceping” which simply meant “market”.
The Cotswolds are also home to the Gloucester Old Spot Pig – that’s the one with the random black patches on its’ body – which is still sought after today for its’ meat. Also farmed here is plenty of lamb, together with top-end vegetables and fruits such as asparagus, and plums. Many of the local restaurants include these in their menus.
If you enjoy wandering through astounding English countryside – and who doesn’t? – there are many wonderful hiking trails here. There is one that is only a mile long between the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter (nothing to do with the pigs and lambs, since “slaughter” comes from the Anglo-Saxon for “mud”) which weaves along the River Eye and passes an old flour mill which is now a museum, tea-rooms, and craft shop, and pretty rose-covered cottages.
There is an almost endless list of gardens to visit here. There are Hidcote Manor Gardens, Blenheim Palace Gardens, Batsford Arboretum, Bourton House Garden, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Mill Dene Garden, and Painswick Rococo Garden to name just a few.
Small villages abound in the Cotswolds with many of them so far off the beaten track that they hardly ever see a car or lorry. Built from the beautiful Cotswold stone, they share a stunning flavour that is all their own. Pop into one of the ancient pubs for a pint, have a meal in one of the many restaurants, and browse in some of the multitude of antique shops that can be found here.
A holiday in the Cotswolds is something that you will remember for a very long time. If you prefer to do your “own thing” a holiday home Cotswold is available to rent in many of the pretty little villages. For a week or a fortnight you can become one of the locals, which is a far better way to spend a holiday than in a hotel. Your time is your own, and you will very quickly be on nodding terms with people whose families have lived here for centuries.
Resource Box: Cotswold Grey owns a number of apartments and cottages in the North Cotswolds which it lets out for those seeking a splendid holiday in a quiet rural retreat. Each apartment, cottage, or house is furnished to the highest standard and includes high speed fibre broadband and a Sonos music system. Staying in a holiday home in Cotswold has its own unique experience.
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