10 Great Things about Holidays in the Cotswolds

I know this blog is about reading and writing, but since I had no time to write and little time to read during the holidays, here’s a small recap just for fun:

– Our small Victorian cottage in a village of 10 houses (and a 15th century church)… and in general, all the wonderful, romantic, golden-hued villages we passed in the Cotswolds.

– British politeness and friendliness (with extra points for the lady at the pharmacy in Broadway and the guy who helped us with our car rental reservation)

Fan-vaulting in cloisters (Gloucester), in staircases (Oxford Christchurch) and seemingly everywhere we turned (Bath abbey)… Imagine the finest lace, but made of stone, shaped like a fan, on the highest possible ceilings. You can almost feel the pride and glee of the 14th/15th century architects and stone-workers (“see what I did?”). It is completely useless, but so beautiful you just walk around gaping and staring at the ceiling (which gives a very intelligent look, especially when you stumble on worn marble slabs).

– British fresh milk (I don’t know why it tastes so much better than French one)

– Cadbury whole nut dairy chocolate melt by microwave on toasts or crumpets: decadent!

– A nap in Oxford’s Christchurch Meadow

– Visiting Christchurch Hall just before lunchtime (and noticing that the university grub doesn’t look better than in less luxurious canteens– that said, I didn’t get to taste it!)

– Baby facilities everywhere (clean changing rooms and even free baby carriers in the Roman Baths!)

The Roman Baths in Bath and the Pump Room, or how to combine within the same walls Victorian sense of propriety and fear of nudity and sensuality with the very Mediterranean pleasure of spending the day naked with colleagues in a steam room.

– Marks and Spencer trousers to fit everyone (given than M&S left France several years ago, I stocked like crazy for suits and formal trousers whenever we visited UK) —  but I just discovered that they have opened their website to international deliveries, hurrah!

The Oh-no issues:

– Stratford-upon-Avon: just too Disneylandish for my taste… a complete Shakespearian indigestion. Why do people in historic attractions do feel obligated to fancy-dress? Why do they try to sell Shakespeare coffee, Shakespeare sandwiches? (And btw who buys them?)

– Very strong pressure for donations in churches. I know how expensive the upkeep must be, but why not issue mandatory tickets with a fixed price then, instead of putting elderly people glaring at you in front of the donation box, especially when you don’t have change? (It may sound stingy, but sorry I won’t put the whole 20£ bill in it…)

– Traffic in and out of Oxford. Like obedient tourists, we did park and ride, but nonetheless were stuck…

– The whole tipping affair: where, when, how much are all beyond me. I’m sure I committed a huge number of faux-pas, but because of Great Thing #2, people were too nice to just let me know (except with glares at the Oh-no issue #2)


7 thoughts on “10 Great Things about Holidays in the Cotswolds

  1. Welcome back! It sounds like you had a lovely time. Do you have pictures of your cottage you can share? Since I can’t go to the Cotwalds I must live vicariously through others 🙂

  2. No photos? Still, your descriptions are making me envious. Sounds like a lovely time! It sounds like even poor Shakespeare has been marketed to death, eh.

  3. I hate to share this very private confession, but I’m so technology-adverse that I don’t have a digital camera… yes I know, shame on me. I stick to the good old camera with rolls that you bring to the photo lab, which takes a while. But rest assured that I’ll update this post with pictures once this old-fashioned and nearly forgotten process will be completed (in a week? that seems like a century in blog-time!)

  4. So very happy to know you had a lovely time! You should hear my mother on the subject of paying to get into churches! She takes a VERY dim view of it, and I do tend to agree. But particularly pleased you liked Bath – it’s one of my favourite places.

  5. It sounds like a wonderful vacation. Enjoyed reading your recap here (and having the opportunity to meet the Smithereens family on Sunday!)

    I listened to my son bellyache about the fixed fees at the Minster in York a few years ago (and since he was singing there at the time, he didn’t have to pay). He said that it ruined the place. I agree with you: rather pay than have the guilt stares over donations.

    I’ve never thought about melting Cadbury on a crumpet but I may not be able to forget it now that the idea has been inplanted in my brain.

    Agree about fanfolding — and the slippery stone floors.

    Is there any historic moment in Europe that hasn’t been Disneyfied? So sad. Stratford sounds like Salzberg where everything edible in tourist areas is named Amadeus. Walt Disney had such an imagination (see film Fantasia); I wonder what he’d think about how commercialized and unimaginative things have spun out of control because of his theme parks.

    I was wondering this morning if the French even drank fresh milk! Haven’t been anywhere this week it’s been served. May need to go to the market tomorrow morning as I’ve been missing the fresh milk I get at my farmer’s market at home. 🙂

    Tipping is confusing the world around — and I am always leary about trusting the guide books advice on this issue. Seems so odd here in France, where the service is wonderful, that you don’t tip, but in the States, you must tip regardless of whether the service is good or not. I’m not one to insult with a tip, as some might do in US, but feel that it isn’t right not to tip as it is most wait staff’s pay.

  6. Pingback: Bullet Point Friday « Smithereens

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