Thursday, September 15, 2016

3 towns and 2 sights

Day 11: Touring in the Cotswolds

We woke up refreshed and ready to discover some more of the Cotswolds.  On the agenda was stopping in as many cute towns as possible and seeing some sights.  We enjoyed our full English breakfast at the Lamb Inn (included in the room price).  Husband got the blood sausage and couldn't stomach it--unusual for him!

Full English--the best breakfast!

Our first stop was Bourton-on-the-Water.  We parked in the first lot we came to then backtracked to the main area, walking along the pretty little river, over the cute little bridges, looking at the cute ducks wading in the water.  It was still early and it wasn't yet crowded but it was easy to see how this cute town could get overrun by hordes of tourists.  Some local schoolkids asked us some questions for a survey.  We saw parents and kids feeding the ducks.  We saw folks sitting on the strategically placed benches enjoying the weather.  It was a nice place to stop for a little while.

We routed ourselves to the Slaughters.  We drove through Lower Slaughter to Upper.  We parked (illegally, probably) and walked about this quiet, cute town.  The church was open so we took a quick peek--it had very pretty stained glass.  On our way out of town, we pulled over on the very narrow road to take pictures of a beautiful golden stone mansion on the hill with the sheep grazing in the field.  Idyllic setting!

Back in Lower Slaughter, we parked along the road after not finding any spots in the town proper. There were a few more people milling about but it was definitely not crowded.  This is an achingly cute town.  Probably my favorite after Castle Combe.  A river runs through it to a mill where there were some cute shops.  The cottages were ridiculously picturesque.  We stopped and chatted with a gentleman who was working on his house.  He had a collapsible scaffold which we would love!  We went into the graveyard through a garland of roses (left over from a wedding, I'd guess) and into the very pretty Church of St. Mary.

Back outside, we wandered over to the beautiful Lower Slaughter Manor where there were tables with umbrellas on the lawn.  We sat at one, waited awhile, nothing happening.  Husband went inside for a menu, said it was beautiful.  After another few minutes with no service, we reluctantly left.  In the 15 or so minutes we sat there, not a single server came outside.  It's was a picture perfect place with less than perfect service for those of us wanting a bite to eat.

We walked about a bit more and decided to have a bite at the more popular (by the number of tables occupied) Slaughters Country Inn.  Not as posh but much better service.  Our sandwiches, beer, and tea were very satisfying; as was sitting outside enjoying the gorgeous weather and beautiful setting.

We walked back to the car via the lovely cottages by the mill (how would it be to live there?).

From Lower Slaughter we headed to Wyck Rissington which the Rough Guide suggested for Cotswolds tranquility and a beautiful church.  It was what I'd call a "sleepy village" as there was no one about.  We parked by the 12th/13th century church and headed inside for a quick browse.  It was everything you'd want a in a church--quiet, serene, holy feeling.  This was a good, quick detour.

Next up on the agenda was Sezincote Manor.  It's in private hands and only open on Thursdays and Fridays from 230-530pm.  We followed the Rough Guide's suggestion to look for the entrance opposite the Batsford Arboretum and found it without trouble.  There was only a tiny, easily missed, sign for Sezincote.  The lane to the manor's parking lot was quite long and steep with the entrance a few hundred yards down the hill.  We paid our entrance fee but had to wait about an hour before we could tour the house.  No matter, this gave us time to wander the extensive grounds at leisure.

We had no idea, really, what to expect at Sezincote but the gardens blew us away!  Every spot was spectacular.  The Indian bridge, the Hindu temple, the flowers, the trees, the streams, all gorgeous. We didn't even have time to wander the upper garden area before our house tour.

Sezincote is "Indianized" in that its exterior looks like an Indian palace.  But inside there is very little Indian decor.  It looked like an English manor house.  It's a pretty interior with an interesting family history but quite incongruous to the exterior.  The guide was very good and helped bring the house to life but it felt rushed; we weren't allowed to linger in each room.  Overall, an enjoyable experience that we would recommend, particularly the gardens.

It was still relatively early so we decided to hit one more spot before heading back to Burford, Moreton-in-Marsh.  We found a place to park on the very busy main road but this town just didn't appeal: too big, too busy after the tiny, uncrowded places we'd been.  We decided to leave and head to the Rollright Stones, partly because we wanted to see them and partly because they were in the opposite direction of the diverted traffic (apparently there was some kind of accident at Chipping Norton).

We didn't have any trouble finding the Rollright Stones, but did have trouble crossing the busy lane to see both sections.  Cars and trucks were just flying by!  The King Stones were not big like Avebury or Stonehenge, but they're sitting there in a perfect circle in a quiet field.  They are believed to have been a gathering place for Neolithic people around 4500 years ago.  The King Stone is bigger and believed to be a Bronze age cemetery marker from 1800-1500 BC.  This was an interesting, quick detour.

Back on the road to Burford, we took the long way (the big highway) and had little traffic to contend with.  The countryside is really lovely.  We arrived in Burford in time to change for husband's birthday dinner at the Lamb Inn.

The restaurant was pretty empty but the food was very good to excellent; the service was attentive but not intrusive; and we enjoyed it very much.  We had a nightcap in the pub before bed.  It was another memorable birthday in England!

Make a wish!

1.  With a car you can cover lots of sights in one day!
2.  The Slaughters are enchanting.
3.  If Sezincote is open during your trip, go!  The gardens alone are worth it.
4.  The restaurant at the Lamb Inn produced a fantastic dinner for a special occasion

Next:  We fall in love with Chipping Camden and see Broadway Tower, Snowshill Manor and Chastleton House's gardens.

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