Cotswolds

Even though the blog is about London, today’s post isn’t. See, I’ve been dreaming for a long time to see the beautiful village of Bibury in the Gloucestershire part of the Cotswolds area. And very recently, as I was surfing the Internet, an ad popped up suggesting to join a Russian-speaking tour of Cotswolds villages and Lavender Fields – an opportunity I couldn’t miss! So I got up bright and early and headed to the meeting point near the Hammersmith station, got on the coach – and off we went! Weather-wise, we are very lucky, it’s a proper summer day with lots of sunshine and temperatures just south of 30 degrees Celsius.

Our first stop is the Lavender Farm in Snowshill. The farm consists of 35 acres of lavender fields and sells products made of lavender. Before we get to see the actual fields, we are taken to their tearoom to have a snack and also check out the gift shop, which sells cosmetic products, essential oil, crafts, homeware, food products etc. – all made of or with lavender, of course.

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The tearoom is pretty busy, as there are a lot of tourists visiting the farm.

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At first I don’t feel like eating anything, but then I think that being here and not trying lavender tea would be a crime. So I get myself a cream tea, which is probably my most favourite thing in the world.

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They do lavender scones as well, by the way, although I went for an ordinary fruity one.

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And then we go out to see the fields, which are so breathtakingly beautiful, that I can’t even find proper words to describe them. That is where pictures work better than words – just look at the thousands and thousands of flowers in all tones of purple!

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However, pictures cannot transmit the smell, which the air is filled with and which I find okay, but not really to die for.  I mean, I do realise that lavender has a ton of beneficial properties (antiseptic, antidepressant, etc., etc.), but I’ve never been a massive fan of its scent.

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This section has been intentionally planted with wild flowers this year – there is a sign explaining that it is a measure to kind of give the soil a break for a certain period.

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There are so many tourists wandering around and taking pictures and selfies amidst the fields.

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Apparently, there exist many different varieties of lavender, and quite a few of them are represented here. The flowers vary in size, shape and colour.

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After about an hour and a half of walking around the fields, we leave for our next destination, which is the Bourton-on-the-Water village. On the way I take a picture of someone’s house and garden, still in Snowshill, I believe – isn’t it absolutely wonderful?

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Bourton-on-the-Water is packed with people: locals (the smallest group, I think – there are just a couple of thousand inhabitants), tourists from within the UK, foreign tourists. No surprise: it’s a Saturday, and probably the best Saturday of the year in terms of the weather.

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From the coach parking I head straight to the Windrush riverside, which is supposed to be the most picturesque part of the village. The Windrush river is so shallow, that you can just stand in it like in a puddle.

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And that is exactly what people are doing, especially kids – running, playing and splashing water.

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Apparently the river also holds some activities, for example in summer football is played in it. From what I heard, the aim of the game is not as much to score goals, as to get everyone wet. Another one is charity rubber duck race, which was supposed to be on today, but which I missed.

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There are many places to eat and drink along the river, and as we are given time for lunch in Bourton-on-the-Water, I am looking at those with interest.

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Among local tourist attractions, there is the Motoring Museum. I’m not sure I find the concept of it particularly interesting, especially when I have limited time to explore the village (and eat, let’s not forget that important part!), but at least it looks nice on the outside.

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I will repeat it again and again, we are truly blessed with today’s weather. I don’t think I could have picked a better day for a day trip like this. If I had more time, I’d definitely join those people sitting at the riverside with their feet in the water.

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The challenge now is to find a nice restaurant with an outside seating area and a spare table. I try this one – Rose Tree – but unfortunately they’ve already finished serving lunch.

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There is another one next to it, which is still doing lunch, but where I have to wait a bit to get a table outside.

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But it’s fine, the waiting time is not too long and finally I am enjoying myself on this sunlit terrace with a nice steak and a cold beer. Life is good!

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I even have time for a little walk after lunch. There are quite a few antiques shops around, and in this one I am even tempted to buy some china plates, but manage to talk myself out of it at the very last moment.

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What I notice is that there is an abundance of tea rooms and ice cream places here. Too bad I don’t feel like an ice cream, as it is supposed to be really good, home-made of local dairy.

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It is now time to travel to our final destination today, Bibury. And first of all we are taken to see yet another farm, which is the Bibury Trout Farm.

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The farm has existed for over a hundred years, with several millions of rainbow and brown trout fish farmed every year.

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Here they are! In fact, I’ve always considered trout with its dots all over the body to be one of the most beautiful fish species.

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In summer, the farm offers a ‘Catch your own’ service, providing all the necessary equipment. Of course, every caught fish has to be paid for, and there are some pretty strict rules to follow: for example, once caught, a fish cannot be released back in the water and has to be killed.

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Looks like with the ‘Catch your own’ there also come  obligatory ‘Wash your own’, ‘Clean your own’ and ‘Gut your own’ services, at least that’s what these people here are doing.

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After doing all that, feel free to consume your fish right here – there is a picnic and barbecue area specifically for that.

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After the farm visit we have about an hour to walk around the village. First thing, I go to Arlington Row, which is the most famous place in Bibury, featured in all photos, promotional materials etc. The stone cottages here were built in the 14th century and then, in the 17th century, converted into a row of cottages for wool weavers.

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It’s not surprising that the famous 19th-century artist William Morris referred to this village as “the most beautiful village in England” – he definitely had a point!

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Speaking of William Morris, here is a nice little tea room named after him.

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That is St Mary’s Church visible behind the stone wall. It is pretty fascinating, by the way, how the stones forming this kind of walls hold together: I don’t see any traces of cement or any other binding material.

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This is the cemetery next to St Mary’s Church, a notably old one.

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One last picture of the village, before we go back to the coach parking and set off back to London. It’s been a great and exciting day indeed!

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