We actually made this trip back in September, but I've only now (over my holiday break) found time to write up my notes into a real report. So, here it is!
I love reading exhaustively-detailed trip reports, so I am probably going to go overboard. I'll divide it into two posts, and include a list of resources at the end for anyone who might find them useful.
There's also a photo album on Picasa, here.
~Day One: Arrival and a Glimpse of London~
We arrived at Heathrow just after 6AM. With economy seats and a wailing infant a few rows away, neither of us had gotten much sleep. Thankfully, we both still had plenty of energy due to excitement and the fact that a direct flight from Boston to the UK is relatively short! After a bit of searching, we found our way to the platforms for the Heathrow Connect. While not as fast as the zippy Heathrow Express, it's considerably cheaper. I purchased our round-trip tickets online, and we claimed them at a kiosk near the platform with no hassle. We could have taken the tube even more cheaply, but we were nervous about navigating the underground while jet-lagged, and the HC goes straight to Paddington, where we would be catching our train. If I were doing things over again, however, I would have gotten only one-way tickets, since the tube was actually a faster and more convenient way to get back to the airport from our apartment in Chelsea.
By the time we reached Paddington Station it was still not yet 9AM, but the station was already bustling with activity. I still didn't quite feel like I was in London, possibly because there were so many other tourists around! The station is quite a cool, old-fashioned structure, long and vast, with elegant, old-fashioned metal filigree decorations that give it an almost art nouveau feel. There are also plenty of fast food kiosks and grocery outlets offering a wide array of quick, cheap food.
Our train wasn't leaving until 1:30PM so we decided to spend a few hours getting an early glimpse of London. We checked our bag at the Left Luggage office in the station, picked up our train tickets from the automated kiosk, availed ourselves of the 30 pence toilets, then headed off in the direction of Hyde Park.
A few minutes walk, and we were surrounded by green fields and trees, joggers, and dozens of dogs out on their morning strolls. We were impressed by how many of the dogs were off-leash! And so well behaved! It made us miss our own dog Charlie, even though we'd been away for less than 24 hours. We passed through a lovely Italianate garden, still bright with flowers, and then made our way toward Kensington Palace (and the street behind it, where my handy google map told me I could find several recommended bakeries!)
We took our goodies (just-okay almond croissant from Ottolenghi's for me, good plain croissant from Patisserie Valerie for Bob) and hot drinks back to the park and had our first London meal on a bench watching more Londoners and their dogs. It was a lovely way to ease into the trip.
Thus fortified, we continued on. We ogled the enormous, elaborate Prince Albert memorial (which made me sad, knowing how young he died, and how deeply Victoria mourned him), then headed out of the park toward the Museum of Natural History.
I adored the exterior of this building! It's huge and set back from the street, and absolutely every corner and window and ridge is decorate with carvings of flora and fauna. Everything from monkeys to pterodactyls (and a few of what I took to be griffins-- not exactly "natural" but quite imposing!). There was a huge line of people (mostly families with kids) waiting for the doors to open (the museum is free) so we continued on to the Victoria & Albert museum, of design, right next door.
The V&A is also free, which we really appreciated since we only had time for the briefest of surveys. Everyone says it's enormous and overwhelming, and they are right. We really only visited two areas: the Greek and Roman statues, and the rooms with art from the Middle East. Unfortunately I think I was too jet-lagged to really appreciate the details, but I really enjoyed just wandering the huge rooms full of beautiful items. Overall this wasn't one of my must-see sites, but I am glad we did get a glimpse of it.
By the time we left, the waiting crowds had entered the Natural History Museum, so we decided to poke in there too. I really wanted to see the great hall, and I was not disappointed. The interior is just as richly carved as the exterior, all brown wood and rich natural colors, with an elaborate staircase leading up to the second level balconies that run all around the hall. Wandering past the old-fashioned display cases I could almost imagine the modern tourists replaced by Victorian-era ladies and gentlemen. After a quick photo-op with the statue of Darwin, we headed back out to catch our train.
Ninety minutes later and we were disembarking at Moreton-in-Marsh! We easily located the bus stop in the parking lot. I'd been a little nervous about the buses since all I had to work from were schedules found online, some of which were not entirely clear. Fortunately this stop had posted times and line numbers, which confirmed that the next bus to Chipping Campden was due in ten minutes (they only run every hour or two, so that was lucky timing!)
As soon as we were on the bus I knew we'd made the right decision not to rent a car. Those Cotswold roads are sooo narrow! Even on the bus I was wincing whenever we passed another vehicle, at first. But before long I had stopped watching the cars, and started paying attention to the ridiculously charming countryside. It had been a bit overcast all day, but as we were driving, the sun began breaking through the clouds! When we got out in Chipping Campden my heart gave the same sort of little leap it had when I first saw Paris and Venice. It was perfect! The rows of buildings all gold in the evening light, the long curving main street, the patchwork of green fields covering the gentle hills.
After a bit of wandering around we oriented ourselves and located our apartment (it was actually almost directly across the street from the bus stop, behind the Noel Arms Inn) and the promised key in its hiding spot. We explored our new home and found it just as charming as the town itself, tiny yet perfectly comfortable for two people. And surrounded by other adorable houses with beautiful gardens still overflowing with roses. Our house even had a lovely outside sitting area lush with flowers.
Jet lag was starting to kick in by then, so we availed ourselves of the small Coop grocery store around the corner. We really loved how easy it was to get fresh Indian entrees in all the grocery stores! After a meal of microwaved Chicken Tikka Masala and Lemon Rice, we headed to bed.
~Day Two: Hidcote and Kiftsgate~
The next morning I woke relatively early. It was gray and drizzly out, so I spent a few hours updating my travel journal and reading. By the time we were ready to head out, the sky had cleared considerably -- and in fact that morning was to be the only time during our entire trip that we saw any substantial rain. I don't know what we did to get such great weather-karma!
I went out to explore the town a bit at 10, and found the conveniently located ATM not far from the Noel Arms. I had had my own breakfast of muesli at the apartment, but I stopped in the Bantam Tea Shop (so adorable!) for a cheese scone I brought home for Bob. He said that was his favorite scone of the entire trip!
As it was a Sunday, the buses weren't running. I had, however, contacted a lovely local taxi service the night before, to set up transportation to the nearby Hidcote and Kiftsgate gardens. The driver, Jill, was wonderful, very warm and helpful. Her husband Jim is a sheep farmer, but he also helps drive when needed. They are both extremely knowledgeable about the area. It was Jill who picked us up Sunday morning, just around the corner from our apartment. I had thought I might need to arrange a specific pickup time for our return, but Jill said we could just call her when we were ready, as long as we didn't mind waiting 20 min or so if she was out on another job. We really appreciated her flexibility! She also showed us where Kiftsgate was (it's a short walk down the road from Hidcote) and recommended that we take a stroll past the entrance to Hidcote before entering, to see a cute little collection of thatched cottages and meadows. The sun had actually come out around that time, turning the cottages and fields into something out of a fairytale, impossible to capture on film (though we did try!).
The Hidcote gardens themselves were stunning, even with many of the beds past their prime for the season. I particularly enjoyed the green vista of the Long Walk and the peaceful loftiness of the Beech Allee. The many different "rooms" were also fun to explore. It was crowded, but everyone was good natured. It was still damp from the overnight rain, and the stones were slick in places, especially where there was a slight incline.
We had lunch at the restaurant inside the garden. I think I had soup-- it wasn't especially memorable-- but Bob was the winner with his plate of macaroni and cheese with leeks. We found that pretty much anything involving cheese in the Cotswolds was delicious!
After more exploring, we exited the garden and stopped at the cafe outside for a restorative treat and beverage (all that walking and photo-taking wears one out!). I noticed a freezer full of single-serving ice-creams in a variety of interesting flavors, including Honeycomb, which I'd been wanting to try. Yum! Vanilla ice cream with bits of crunchy-chewy honey toffee bits.
Next up was Kiftsgate. We made our way along the narrow road, leaping up onto the brushy border as necessary to avoid oncoming cars. At the mouth of the drive, we noticed a man with two kids and a dog resting beside a trail marker that pointed down from the road and into the wooded valley. I was seized by the sudden desire to traipse off down the trail myself, but we still had the garden to explore.
Kiftsgate was smaller (and cheaper) than Hidcote, but lovely in its own way. I am glad we saw both, though I think if I were with anyone who was less mobile, I would skip Kiftsgate as it involves a number of steep stone staircases. One of my favorite parts of Kiftsgate was the grassy lawn and half-circle pool at the base of the terraced hillside garden below the house. The land drops away on the far side, offering a beautiful view of fields and hills.
Once we'd finished exploring the gardens, I convinced Bob to take a stroll back out to the trail I'd seen earlier. We headed down the hill from the road, through some muddy woods, and ended up out in the fields below the gardens. I would have loved to keep walking, but we were running low on energy by then, so we turned back and once more sought out the restorative elixir of tea.
One of my favorite things about England in general and the Cotswolds in particular was how every site seemed to offer, at a minimum, pots of tea (Real pots and cups! Not paper!), scones, and an assortment of other sweet treats. I especially enjoyed these scones as the jam provided was raspberry, which I think goes best with the clotted cream.
After tea, we phoned Jill and arranged our pickup. Unfortunately, it was at this time that the natural world turned viciously against me. While we were wandering along the overgrown path to the bluebell wood (not in bloom at that time of course) I brushed against an innocent-looking plant and felt a sharp pain. I thought I'd been stung by a bee at first, but soon realized it was a stinging nettle. I had not realized they were so deserving of that name! Ouch!
A very kind fellow visitor quickly offered a dose of anti-sting balm she had in her purse in case of bee stings. I was also informed that crushed dock leaves would do the trick, but did not want to risk further injury seeking them out to see if it was true!
Not long after that Jill arrived, to take us back to our apartment. The total fee was around 15 pounds, which we paid happily (plus a tip), as it was far less than a car rental would have been, and much less stress.
Back home we freshened up. While Bob rested, I went out to explore the trails behind the town, following the trail markers that run past our apartment toward Broad Campden. The sun had come out again, turning the meadows emerald green, and setting diamonds in the trees still wet with the earlier rain. It was so beautiful I came back and dragged Bob back out with me to see it! We also saw a number of folks walking dogs out along the trails. And plenty of sheep!
We celebrated our first full day in the Cotswolds with delicious Indian food at the Maharaja restaurant in Chipping Campden. We even dared sample the cheesy naan, which was not something we'd ever seen in the US. But how can you go wrong with hot bread and melted cheese?
~Day Three: Stow and the Slaughters~
I had been stalking weather websites for weeks before our trip, having heard horror stories about the wretchedly wet summer Great Britain had been experiencing earlier in the year. As the trip got closer and closer, and the long-term forecast got sunnier and sunnier, I was sure it could not last. But Monday morning was gorgeous!
I spent the early morning reading and writing my travel journal, then went out at 8:30 to ramble along the main street toward St James church. I visited the Grevel house (the one where a merchant lived who was supposedly the inspiration for the merchant in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) and then the church and graveyard, then walked back along Calf Lane to our apartment.
We started this day “early” (Bob loves to sleep late) in order to catch the 9:45 bus. While we waited at the bus stop, I had a second breakfast of almond croissant from the Coop (actually tastier than the more expensive one from Ottolenghi in my opinion!). The bus came right on time. This time we were on the 21 bus, which takes longer as it goes through Broadway along the way to Morton-in-Marsh (the 22 line does not stop in Broadway). So it was a leisurely morning, as we also had to switch buses in Moreton-in-Marsh, and hung out there for about 45 minutes, exploring the town. MIM is larger and busier than CC, and not nearly so charming in our opinion, though certainly more convenient to the bus lines and train!
By the time we reached our destination, Stow-in-the-Wold, it was around 11:30. We walked around the town center (square and picturesque, though CC was still our favorite!), then found the Church of St Edward. This was of interest to us primarily because we are big Tolkien fans and had heard that there were two large yew trees growing up against the back door that may have been inspirational for the image of the gates of Moria in The Lord of the Rings.
The trees were indeed striking, and we proceeded to take many photos! After that, it was time for lunch. We considered a number of fine looking pubs, but decided in the end that the weather was so nice, we should just get sandwiches to eat outside. We found an excellent shop at the corner of Digbeth St where we each got made-to-order baguette sandwiches for 3 pounds each. I got cheddar and tomato chutney with “salad” (aka lettuce). Bob had chicken with honey mustard. Both were delicious -- some of the best food we had on our trip, though simple. We got beverages from the Coop and ate them on a bench, people-watching. I would not have wanted to park in the square! We observed several people squeezing tiny cars into tinier spots, holding our breaths for fear of a crunch!
After lunch (I saved part of mine for later - it was too big!) we found the public restrooms near the square. I think they were 20 pence or perhaps 30?
Thus fortified and prepared, we headed off on our day’s main adventure: a hike from Stow to Bourton-on-the-Water, via Upper and Lower Slaughter!
I had a bit of confusion finding the way to the footpath, even with googlemaps on my tablet, an Ordnance Survey map for hikers, AND printed out directions from other hikers. We ended up walking along the main road a bit (not so nice) but eventually did find the footpath. Once we were on the way, the walk was lovely though. It’s mostly a long slow downhill slope at first, so it was very easy going. We saw plenty of green fields, sheep, horses, goats. Passing through fields of cows was a little more disconcerting, though we thankfully never saw the dreaded “Bull in field” sign!
We only encountered one other person on the trail between Stow and the Slaughters -- a young fellow who looked like he must be local. We had been planning to take a trail that would go to Upper Slaughter first, then go from there to Lower Slaughter and on to Bourton. But we missed the turn, and ended up going straight to Lower Slaughter. Near the village the trail was less lovely, but the town itself was almost too picturesque, with the adorable cottages along the lovely river, and the old mill house.
It still didn’t win my heart as Chipping Campden had, as it felt somehow empty -- too full of tourists, and too empty of real life. It did provide the best ice cream of our trip, however! There is a little shop inside the mill that sells woolens and shirts and souvenirs, as well as drinks and ice cream. I had the honeycomb/buttercrunch flavor again, and it was even more delicious!
We watched kids and dogs playing in the water as we snacked, then headed up the trail along the river to Upper Slaughter. The views of the Lords of the Manor hotel were stunning -- I kind of wished we were doing one of those walking tours from town to town and staying there for the night!
Upper Slaughter had fewer shops, but much more charm than Lower Slaughter, in my opinion. We dawdled around for a bit, watching frogs in the stream, resting, eating our leftovers, and then headed back through Lower Slaughter, then to Bourton-on-the-Water.
This last part of the hike was less pleasant, crossing the busy road again, then passing through a bunch of generic suburban streets (perhaps we missed a nicer route?). When we reached downtown BotW it was colorful and busy and full of tourists. But we decided to stay only long enough to use the public toilet and get a drink, before taking the next bus back to Moreton-in-Marsh. It was just a bit too overwhelming after our afternoon in the fields.
Back in MIM, we realized that we had over an hour before the next bus home, so we decided to get supper. Fortunately the ASK Pizza was open (though not yet serving pizza) so we had a delicious meal of pasta. We were home to CC by 7PM.
Even though the bus limited us, we were still very glad not to have a car. After a tiring day, we enjoyed having someone else driving us home. And we still both felt the narrow roads would have stressed us out far too much to make up for the convenience of a car. Perhaps if we return we will reconsider, since we’ll be more familiar and perhaps more interested in getting to out-of-the-way spots. But for this trip, no car was perfect for us!
~Day Four: Broad Campden and Broadway~
Our plan for this day was to visit Broadway in the afternoon, and hike up to the tower. Since I had the morning to myself (Bob was sleeping in) I decided to hike to Broad Campden, following a route in a booklet left in the apartment. I started off circling through the sheep fields, passing horses, admiring the hills mosaiced in green and gold, then eventually coming to quaint little Broad Campden itself. I wished I had been able to time it so I could have eaten at the pub! There is a direct path (level, partly paved, straight) running straight back almost literally to our doorstep, so I returned that way. One of the things I loved about these trails that is how they have narrow secret passages that cut along the backs of houses and such, to allow hikers to pass through the towns themselves! Though I found that in CC, some of these were overgrown with stinging nettles! So be careful!
Back “home” I met up with Bob, and we had an early lunch at Badger Hall tea shop. I had spinach and cheese soup, a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a pot of Assam. All delicious! And the shop itself was adorable, cozy and warm, with low wood-beamed ceilings and a collection of china badgers. And the delectable display of pastries and sweets!
We took the 12:45 bus to Broadway. In town, we followed our Ordnance Survey Map to the start of the trail up to the tower. This was a relatively strenuous hike for us -- I am not sure I’d do it over again, though there were some lovely views. If one has a car, one can drive up to the top.
We did, however, have the good fortune to see a fox on the hike, which was a lovely reward for our efforts! And I had brought along a slice of lemon drizzle cake from Badger’s Hall, which helped me get through the climb. :-)
Hiking down was much easier, of course! We had enough time before our bus to explore the town a bit, and to have tea at Tisane’s. Broadway was pretty, and had more shops and restaurants, but once again we found ourselves preferring the charm of Chipping Campden’s narrow main street and beautiful green meadows.
We had dinner from the Coop that night: fresh roast chicken (good), macaroni and cheese (eh) and spinach. After a nice hot bath I was ready to sleep away the day’s exertions and get ready for another adventure.
~Day Five: Oxford~
Another beautiful day of sun, blue skies, puffy clouds, and no rain. We surely did win the weather lottery!
I went out to ramble around town, picking us up pastries from a French shop. After our breakfast, we caught the bus to MiM, where we then took the train (we bought tickets at the station, very easily) to Oxford! Between bus and train this was a lot of travel for a single day, but it was worth it. Next to Chipping Campden, Oxford was probably my favorite place we visited during this week of our trip. The train station itself was rather hectic, but once we walked up to the university area, I fell in love. The towers, the hidden college squares, the narrow twisting streets. It helped that Oxford is associated with so many of my beloved literary works and authors (Tolkien and Lewis, and more recent works by Laurie King and Connie Willis, to name a few).
It was also a special day as I was able to meet up with a friend I know from online for the first time. She lives near the city, and suggested we meet for lunch at Turl Street Kitchen. This was conveniently near the Bodleian Library, so we stopped in there first to pick up tickets for a tour later that afternoon.
Turl Street Kitchen was delightful-- a modern, airy, open space with absolutely delicious food. This was one of the best meals of the trip for me. I had a casserole with butternut squash, potato, and cheese, with a side salad. Soooo good! I wished I had the appetite for dessert!
After a lovely visit, my friend went her own way, and Bob and I returned to the library for our tour. The tour itself was rather dry and tedious in places, but it was the only way to see Duke Humphrey’s library, which I had very much wanted to visit. It was all I hoped it would be: mysterious and full of beautiful old books, and busy students hard at work!
The Divinity School was also gorgeous, and fun to see as it was used as a set in the Harry Potter movies! But I think I most loved just walking around the interior quadrangle of the Bodleian, looking up at the towering stony heights, and the small doorways with their old labels in Latin: Schola Metaphysicae, etc.
After our tour, we bought some souvenirs at the lovely gift shop, then proceeded on to explore more of the town. I really did wish I had more time in Oxford! As it was, we had only time to visit one college. I chose Magdalen, as this was where C S Lewis lived as a student, and I wanted to visit Addison’s Walk, a trail along the river where Lewis and Tolkien would walk and talk. If we had had more time I would have loved to go punting too!
Eventually we had to head back to catch our train. We stopped at the covered market, which was full of all sorts of interesting shops. I got a cookie from Ben’s Cookies, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, and a cupcake from a cake shop that was so dry and tasteless I threw it out after one bite. Bob’s Cadbury Cream Egg milkshake from Moo Moos was much better -- worth waiting in the huuuuge and rather confusing line.
Back home we had takeaway from the Maharaja, watching Notting Hill (the apartment was provided with a collection of England-based dvds).
~Day Six: Dover Hill and Batsford~
Today was another slower-paced day. Bob slept in, leaving me to go off on another ramble near town. I decided to head up nearby Dover Hill. This was a lovely spot with beautiful views, especially as the weather was till clear. I did get more than my fill of sheep and sheep dung, however! There were so many trails running off into bewitching little groves and valleys that it was hard not to just keep going onward, but eventually I forced myself to return.
I had a tasty solitary late breakfast of fresh OJ and an “egg and soldiers” on the terrace at Noel Arms, then went to wake Bob. We had lunch at the Bantam Tea Room, which I found even more cozy and quaint than the Badger Hall.
We took the bus to Batsford Arboretum, one of the stops along the route toward MiM. A short walk along the entry road, and we were at the extensive grounds. Trails wind through plantings of a variety of trees of all sorts, as well as a large Buddha, a “hermit’s cave” and streams and bridges. It was beautiful and peaceful, though I think my favorite thing was just sitting observing the enormous Batsford house (privately owned still) and wondering what it was like to live in such a place!
We had tea and sweets in the cafe -- once again, I am so impressed by how easy it is to get good tea everywhere!
Eventually we headed back to catch the bus. I was nervous about this, since there wasn’t a posted bus stop even though it is on the schedule. But we simply flagged down the bus as it rounded the corner, and it stopped and let us on no problem!
My only regret is that we didn’t have time to walk over to Sezincote Manor. There is an entry road right across from Batsford, though I think it would have been a 10- or 15- min walk.
We had dinner at the Lygon Arms that night, which was delightful and atmospheric. The food was too rich and too plentiful though! I was uncomfortably full. I don’t regret going, but if I returned I would order just an appetizer, and avoid the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was way too sweet (even for me, and I love sweets).
~Day Seven: Sezincote, Stanway, Stanton, Sudeley~
Our last day in the Cotswolds! But a perfect ending...
For my solo morning ramble, I took the 8:45 bus to Bourton-on-the-Hill, and did the short hike from there to Sezincote. The manor wasn’t open (it has very limited hours) but the trail runs right below it, with beautiful views. This was one of my favorite walks of the trip -- I realize that I love best the walks that pass through fields with trees sprinkled through them, and along the edges.
Then back in Bourton, I stopped at the Bourton House for a cup of cider (sadly I had no time to see the gardens) before catching the bus home. As a note: the schedule says to catch the bus toward CC “at the church” but the driver told me that it is better to wait directly opposite the covered bus stop (where I got off coming the other way) as the road is wider there.
I really liked Bourton-on-the-Hill. It would have been too small, I think, for a carless stay, since there is only a single pub and no shop in town. But with a car, it would be lovely. So charming and beautifully situated, with Batsford, Bourton House, and Sezincote all nearby.
Back “home” we had a lunch of leftovers (chicken covered in tikka masala sauce with cheddar on baguettes = YUM).
Then Jill picked us up, as we had arranged a few days earlier, for a last trip. She dropped us in Stanway, so that we could hike to nearby Stanton.
Stanway was-- at risk of overusing the words-- very charming and picturesque. I wished we had been able to see inside Stanway House, but it was fun just to ogle it from outside. The hike was also beautiful, through level, green fields dotted with trees. Stanton was a bit larger, and featured a pub that was quite busy even in mid-afternoon, with dozens of other hikers and tourists. We enjoyed sodas out on the porch, looking down over the village. Both these towns felt a bit “empty” aside from the tourists, but perhaps that was because it was midday on Friday?
We had a slightly nerve-wracking adventure trying to figure out the next stage of our plan: getting to Winchcombe. My research indicated there was a bus that ran from “Stanton Turn” to Winchcombe, but it was not clear where the bus actually stopped. Fortunately we had procured a cell phone for this trip (a Mobal phone, since we didn’t expect to use it much, and liked the convenience of their service) and so I was able to call the bus company and the kind woman who answered directed us to a spot along the highway just outside town. Had it been raining, this might have been miserable, but as it was, we had no problem waiting for the bus, flagging it down, and boarding. But this was one time when I know having a car would have perhaps been LESS stressful, even for us!
We reached Winchcombe rather late, but had time for a snack at a tea shop, and the short walk out from town to Sudeley Castle. Since we only had an hour before the castle closed, we bought the garden-only tickets. Even though it was brief, this was fun and worthwhile. The grounds were very different from the other gardens we had seen, being more extensive and large.
Back in Winchcombe we stopped at a gourmet deli for dinner, while waiting for Jill’s husband Jim to come pick us up. I had one of the vegetable samosas one sees all over the place, and it was quite tasty!
In retrospect, I realize we could have taken the last bus from Winchcombe to Broadway, and then gotten a taxi from there which would have been cheaper -- but we were happy with how things worked out as Jim took us on the scenic route home, past the Snowshill lavender fields. And we got to hear his stories about sheep farming, and the state of the industry. I had not realized that the sheep are primarily raised for meat these days, as it is nearly impossible to make a profit on wool. Our total taxi fare for the day was 45 pounds -- expensive, but still worth it to us.
Overall, we felt a week was the perfect amount of time to spend in the Cotswolds, and that Chipping Campden was the best place for our base. We enjoyed all the other villages, but CC won our hearts. If we return, we might stay in the south for a change, or possibly in Bath, which I really wanted to visit. But we would also be tempted to return to CC, and to our cute little apartment!