Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Touring around the Cotswolds, 29.9.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 30, 2010

 I’m going to be sorry to be leaving Painswick tomorrow morning. Byfield House has been a lovely place to stay, central to everything in this pretty little village and very comfortable indeed. Best of all is that it’s within walking distance of all the nice places to eat so – yes, you can have that Armagnac after dinner and not have to worry about driving anywhere afterwards!

Today we set off to see Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water and Cirencester. and although it unkindly bucketed down on us all day, no amount of mean weather could spoil our pleasure in these delightful villages.

Stow-on-the-Wold is a classic tourist village with traditional 17th and 18th century housing and a market square, much of which has been given over to gift shops and places to eat, and so is Bourton-on-the-Water but they are lovely to see. Even though it’s autumn there are still flowers everywhere, from hanging baskets and pots to extensive plantings in gardens.

Bourton-on-the-Water also boasts a shallow stream coursing alongside the roadway, and there’s a motor museum which is well worth a visit. There are beautifully restored Austins, Vauxhalls and MGs, some dating back to the earliest days of British motoring, and even if you’re not especially interested in cars, there are early motor-homes (very cramped!) and some intriguing displays of motoring memorabilia such as the china tanks from WW2, the usual ‘comic’ decorative plates about women drivers, and a fine collection of Dinky cars. The original ‘Brum’ was also there. I gather this is from a children’s TV programme or film and it’s a child-sized car which – if the accompanying film is to be believed – is self-powered and can sneak out into the streets of Bourton when the owner isn’t looking, no doubt to get into mischief.

Burford is really pretty, especially if you look down the High Street into the valley. Most of the shops and houses have hanging baskets or window baskets filled to bursting with cottage garden plants and they make the street look really lovely. We visited the Tolsey Museum and saw all kinds of fascinating memorabilia including documents signed by various Kings Henry, (something to do with proclaiming the town boundaries) and there was also a fine collection of handmade samplers, some of them worked by girls only nine years of age.

After that we went on to Cirencester and checked out the museum. Most of the exhibits are designed to teach history to kids, so there are some very realistic and life-size models of this and that, but there are also some wonderful Roman mosaics, some of them as good as any I’ve seen anywhere. They had set up one exhibit as a reproduction of a Roman sitting room with a genuine mosaic floor and it looked superb.  Outside the museum you can see the old Roman Walls which are very impressive and if the weather hadn’t been rather discouraging, we would have liked to explore them further – but we went and had a cup of tea at a nice little cafe called Blades instead.

Driving to and from these places however was a sore trial, especially when we struck road works at Cirencester and got ourselves a bit lost. It was good to get back to Painswick at last and have a very pleasant dinner at St Michael’s Restaurant.

Onward tomorrow, to Wales!

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