Tag Archives: Cotswolds

Roman Baths and Stonehenge

My parents are in town! Which is great because not only did I miss them, but now we get to explore around England together!

We set off for a day seeing Bath and Stonehenge, stopping along our route in the charming market town of Tetbury. Every Saturday, the 17th-century market hall comes alive, and I loved browsing the racks of vintage furs and rummaging through trays of antique jewellery.

Tebury Town Flag

Tetbury Flea Market England

Tetbury Market Fur

Above the market hall is a vendor selling a hearty selection of sheepskin and leather goods. We picked up two pairs of shearling gloves for £15! A terrific bargain for locally made products.

Tetbury Sheep Market Steps

Tetbury Sheep Market Skin Pelts

Tetbury Market Shearling Gloves

Tetbury Genuine Sheepskin Shearling Gloves

We piled back into the car and rambled through some beautiful countryside to the World Heritage city of Bath. Bath has special significance to me and my family because it is the sister city to my mother’s hometown of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia – also a historic resort town known for its natural springs.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Bath Cathedral

Our time in Bath was severely limited, so we made our primary stop the ancient Roman Baths. The ruins here date back to 60 AD when the city was a spa town called Aquae Sulis.

Bath Roman Baths Entrance

Bath Roman Baths View Down on Water

Bath Roman Baths Railing

Bath Roman View Cathedral

Bath Balcony Rail Roman Baths

Bath Roman Bust

The first Romans to come here were soldiers. Their architects and craftsmen built the Baths and Temple. Below is what remains of the temple front.

Bath Roman Baths Freize Temple Front Stone

Bath Roman Baths Sun Head God Freize Temple

People from local tribes, officials and priests, and traders from across the Empire began to settle here. Pilgrims travelled here. And monuments were built here.

This stone head probably decorated the tomb of a wealthy lady. Her hair-do was fashionable in Rome in the later 1st century AD.

This stone head probably decorated the tomb of a wealthy lady. Her hair-do was fashionable in Rome in the later 1st century AD.

Bath Roman Baths Source Waterfall

Bath Roman Baths Looking Up Inside Springs

Bath Roman Baths Surface of the Water Springs

Bath Roman View

Roman Baths Springs Private Area

Bath Roman Baths Sitting Springs

There was a fountain at the exit where we were able to taste the purified spring waters. It has a stinky sulphuric taste, but contains hundreds of times more minerals than your standard mineral water. I savoured a few sips, letting my body absorb the curative powers of the water. However, I won’t be giving up my Perrier anytime soon!

Our final stop for the day was the obligatory Stonehenge tour. It is, by far, one of the most moving sites on earth. I swear I can feel the energy in the air.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre

When I came two years ago, you could park your car right across the street from the stones, then cross through an underground tunnel to walk right up to the site. Now there’s a new visitor centre, and a shuttle bus ride one mile down the road.

But same as before, the experience once we reached the site was equally breathtaking.

Stonehenge Green Grass

As much as the little wheels in my brain churned away at the thought of it, these stones and how they got here, and the reason why, is frightfully unexplainable.

Stonehenge Up Clsoer

Stonehenge Up Close

Stonehenge Portrait Gloves

Stonehenge Portrait

Stonehenge Portrait Audio Guide

Stonehenge Sunset

We walked the circuit around Stonehenge, utterly mesmerizing from every angle, the landscape changing like a kaleidoscope around it. A true wonder of the world!

Yoga at Bamford Spa

After all the planning (and then indulgence) of Thanksgiving, it was time to escape the city and chill out. I booked into a morning yoga class at and we skittered out to the country for a relaxing weekend.

Bamford Haybarn Day Spa falls under the umbrella of Daylesford farm shops, the tiny solitary cork plugging the stop in the huge demand for luxury home and lifestyle brands. It’s overpriced, full of desperate housewives, and it gives my husband the heebie-jeebies just pulling into the packed parking lot. But it does the trick with no Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, or Dean & Deluca around the corner for competition.

The upside is that there’s no better place to pick up your organic veg, freshly baked bread, premium cheeses and basic household staples.

Daylesford Bamford Spa Fountain

Cotswold Entrance

Daylesford Enter

Daylesford Squash Table Display Varieties

Daylesford Veg Cart Display Boxes

Plus, did I mention they have a spa? Oh, that’s right, of course I did.

Daylesford Baybard Wellness Retreat

Daylesford Bamford Spa Lotions and Potions

The entrance is laden with the requisite line of bath and spa products, and a respectable stash of flimsy, flowing yogawear. I flirted with the thought of how much better my hatha class might be if I purchased a strand of Bamford Indian prayer beads… But I only had time enough for a pot of tea in the lounge before I had to be on the mat.

Daylesford Bamford Spa Fountain Driftwood

Daylesford Bamford Spa Loungers

The spa lounge is a sun-bleached solarium with lots of plush linen loungers to nestle upon as you gaze out on the country landscape – basically, like looking out on my childhood back yard, but all the same, deeply comforting.

Daylesford Bamford Haybarn Tea Tray

Daylesford Bamford Spa Tea Tray

Up the spiral staircase and through the knee-walled practice space, is the entrance to the studio.

Daylesford Bamford Spa Yoga Room

Daylesford Bamford Spa Yoga Beads

Daylesford Bamford Spa Yoga Mat Buddha

The hour and a half hatha class was an absolute dream – the instructor tranquilly chanted and coaxed us through the postures, and I came out feeling completely restored.

Daylesford Bamford Spa White Rimmed Water Glass

The other perk to Bamford yoga is getting to do a cheeky bit of shopping before my ride comes to collect me.

Daylesford Shopping Bag Walking Car Park

Later that afternoon, the boys went for their daily dose of recreation at the local golf course, and I tagged along. They teed up at the driving range, thwacking one dimpled ball after the next into the mist-coated yonder.

Cotswold Golf Course Driving Range Swing

Cotswold Golf Course Driving Range Swoing

Cotswold Driving Range Wellies Swing

They made it look so easy, I couldn’t resist taking a couple of swings myself…

Cotswold Driving Range Swing

Cotswolds Golf Swing

With somewhat less finesse!

I definitely make a better caddy than a player.

Cotswold Golf Course Driving Range Glove

Cotswold Golf Course Sunset

As the sun set and the temperature started to drop, we retired our clubs and warmed up by a toasty log fire.

Cotswold Sunset Golf Course Path

Cotswold Man and his Fire

Cotswold Fire

I spent the evening warming my back against the fire, penning my letter to Santa Claus… Maybe those Indian prayer beads will make it into my stocking come Christmas day 🙂

Lunch at The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

Britain suffered the coldest August bank holiday on record this year.

To many, a perfect excuse to ball up under a warm throw and indulge in a Netflix marathon…

But not I!

I couldn’t bear the thought of a squandering a day off doing nothing. So I threw on my slicker and hit the Cotswolds country roads!

Cotswolds Landscape Sheep

Cotwolds Cottage

Cotswolds Rainy Landscape

We had lunch in my most favorite village, Kingham, at the Daylesford pub venture “The Wild Rabbit.”

Wild Rabbit Pub Front

Wild Rabbit Rear

Wild Rabbit Pub Fireplace

Wild Rabbit Dining Room

Wild Rabbit Table Bread

Wild Rabbit Bloody Mary

Wild Rabbit Bloody Mary Sip

Once I had my bloody mary in hand, I was all smiles.

Though someone was less than impressed to have been dragged out in this weather…

Wild Rabbit Date

Not much choice on the menu, but everything we ordered was delightful.

Bruschetta; smashed broad beans, whipped goat's curd, ham

Bruschetta; smashed broad beans, whipped goat’s curd, ham

Lentil salad with gorgonzola and red onion

Lentil salad with gorgonzola and red onion

Wild Rabbit Lentil Salad

Wild Rabbit Chips Staub

After lunch, I literally had to tug my squire by the sleeve to accompany me on a little walk around the village. He hates wet weather. But I think England is romantic in the rain.

Wild Rabbit Pub Porch

Wild Rabbit Pub Porch Point

Kingham town

Scampering under the drizzle, we made our way to the village church and had a contemplative moment inside.

Kingham Church Path

Kingham Church Gatre

Kingham Church

Kingham Church Side

During the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds enjoyed a booming wool trade and the area became very prosperous. As a result, there are many handsome churches dotted around the countryside built of this yellow Jurassic limestone. I can’t get over how dignified and sumptuous it looks!

Kingham Church Doors

Kingham Church Coat

We hid out in the dusty old church, escaping the rain for a while.

When it reduced to a sprinkle, we dashed back to the car, and whizzed home to snuggle up with a hot cup of tea.

Broughton Castle

British people have a saying, “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” The phrase is taken to mean that everyone has the right to do as they please within their own home, and no one can enter a dwelling without invitation. On a weekend trip up to the Cotswolds, we stopped in to see one of the finest private moated manor houses in the country, Broughton Castle.

Located outside of Banbury and made of magnificent golden honey limestone, the core of the house dates from 1306. It has been home to the Fiennes family since the 1400s, and has appeared on-screen in films such as Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Jane Eyre (2011).

The owners open the house and grounds to the public on select days of the year, and we seized the invitation to have a poke around.

Broughton Castle Entrance

The Gatehouse

The Gatehouse

Broughton Castle Outside

Broughton Castle Landscape

Broughton Castle Shells Window

Broughton Castle Viscount Falkland Portrait

I have to admit it’s a bit weird roaming around a complete stranger’s home – no matter how magnificent. However, the interior is so perfectly cared for and preserved, it feels rather like a museum. As I became more and more lost in the details and grandeur of each room, I began to forget the sense that I was somehow intruding.

Armor on display in The Great Hall

Armor on display in The Great Hall

Broughton Castle Great Parlour Wallpaper BUST

Ornate Plaster Ceiling in The Great Parlour

Ornate Plaster Ceiling in The Great Parlour

Broughton Castle Bedroom Dragon

Broughton Castle Portraits

Breezing through the drafty stone corridors, and up the creaky wooden staircase to the long carpeted gallery filled with art and antiques, we amusedly nosed around the historic chamber rooms.

Broughton Castle Bedroom Wallpaper Chair

I freaked for this gorgeous wallpaper in the King’s Chambers, hand-painted in China with impressive detail in the 1800s.

Broughton Castle Bedroom Wallpaper

We were even permitted to climb out on the roof and look down over the luscious green landscaping and gardens.

Broughton Castle Roof

Broughton Castle Roof Panama

Broughton Castle Roof Shot

Broughton Castle Garden

The last room to see was the Oak Room, an opulently panelled drawing-room with an oak interior porch put up by William, the 1st Viscount.

Broughton Castle Sitting Room Doorway

Broughton Castle Sitting room fireplace

Broughton Castle Sitting Room Books

Broughton Castle Sitting Room Door

The Oak Room led out into a perfectly coiffed garden with neatly manicured box hedges and a smattering of pastel pink roses.

Broughton Castle Outside Garden

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Looking

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Arch

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Bench House

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Bench

Broughton Castle Outside House

Broughton Castle Outside Walking

Broughton Castle Outside Side View

Broughton Castle Outside Side Walking

We weren’t the only ones roaming the grounds on this beautiful day!

Broughton Castle Cows

Broughton Castle Cow

An udderly amoo-sing day in the country!

Thank you to the owners of this remarkable property for letting us have a captivating peek inside.

Summer Solstice

Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.—
Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!
– William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
cover
Confession: I’m a teensy bit of a hippie at heart. Not in the bra-burning, hallucinogenic, live-in-a-commune sense. More the peaceful in the know youth subculture that abides by the code: “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want.” When my parents’ generation were gathering at Woodstock in 1969, new age travellers in the UK were forming peace convoys for the summer pilgrimage to free music festivals at Stonehenge.
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The Rollright Stones in the Oxfordshire countryside are a similar ancient monument consisting of a circle of stones. Thought to be a gathering place for Neolithic folk, the ring of limestone boulders dates back to 3,500 BC. With the summer solstice this weekend, I thought it was the perfect place to shake off modern society and celebrate the arrival of the summer season – which is being a bit shy this year!

king

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strut

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jumpBW

track

stones

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Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. Solstice has been celebrated since prehistoric times – and the local Cotswolds Order of the Druids were on hand to celebrate. They called for peace in the north, south, east and west and reenacted the battle between the Holly King of winter and the Oak King of summer. The Oak King triumphed in the end – so bring on the sun already!

Cotswolds Comforts

Spring has been categorically lousy this year, but with high hopes for summer just a few days away it was time for a visit to my favorite Cotswolds nursery to stock up on flora and fauna to beautify my terrace.

wyatts2

But first thing’s first – a piping hot cup of java from my dear Jaffé & Neale bookshop and cafe in Chipping Norton (or Chippy, as us locals call it). I could browse the shelves in here endlessly! There is always a recommended title or two that beg to be added to my reading list – and I make a point to follow their monthly bookclub picks.

coffee

Stopped to pick up some breakfast supplies at Hampers Food & Wine Co in Woodstock. The deli is to die for. If you ever fancy a picnic in Oxfordshire, they make gourmet hampers for collection. Just order online and pick up when you hit town!

Woodstock

Woodstock

Cool vintage Morris Minor - love the wicker hamper on the back!

Cool vintage Morris Minor – love the wicker hamper on the back!

hampers

My country breakfast staples

My country breakfast staples

Fresh bread from Wyatt's farm shop

Fresh bread from Wyatt’s farm shop

Wyatt’s Plant Centre & Farm Shop in Chippy is your one-stop shop for all your gardening needs – and you can tick a few things off your grocery list while you’re at it. Every time I go here, I’m like a kid in a farm shop – I had to grab a doughy ball of this freshly baked bread to whisk back to London with me.

And now for flower hour!

And now for flower hour!

Discerning eye for inspiration

Discerning eye for inspiration

Honing my hanging basket arrangement skills

Miss Greenthumb (I hope!)

After carefully honing my hanging basket arrangement skills, I’m well on my way toward domestic goddess status! Just need to remember to water them occasionally, right?

Country Lunch

This weekend took me for a little jaunt to the country – and lunch in the most charming Oxfordshire restaurant, The Mole Inn. Located down a leafy country lane in the rolling hills of Toot Baldon, the inn has stunning English gardens and a cosy dining room with wood-beam rafters overhead.

mole

The Mole Inn prides itself for its sustainably sourced meats and produce. Fish is caught off the English coast and delivered daily. The cheeseboard is entirely British – supplied from a local cheese specialist in the Cotswolds.

Idyllic Oxfordshire landscape

Bucolic Oxfordshire landscape

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mole1

Pan-fried sea trout | new potatoes, samphire, asparagus and carrots in a lime butter sauce

Pan-fried sea trout | new potatoes, samphire, asparagus and carrots in a lime butter sauce

mole4

The meal was so filling we had to take the cheeseboard to go and finish it that evening in the garden. I am a card-carrying member of the UK cheese fan club – the British make delish cheese. Over time, I have become quite the fromage buff – my favorites are Wigmore and Stinking Bishop.

Oxford Blue | Montgomery Cheddar | Somerset Brie | Oxford Isis | Wigmore

Oxford Blue | Montgomery Cheddar | Oxford Isis | Somerset Brie | Wigmore

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As sun sets in the country, I am one happy and sated bumpkin!