Today I did another bus tour, this one taking me to Blenheim Palace and three towns in the Cotswolds. The area is breathtaking. The thatched-roof limestone houses together with all the rolling hills and farm animals makes this place an absolute treat to visit.
Our tour guide, Sue, was a hoot. She was that “cheeky mum” sort. She sounded all prim and proper, but she had some of the funniest stories about the area. She talked about the Queen’s old “voluptuous figure” and all the sordid stuff that goes on between the gentry in the country. I found it hilarious, I think some of the old codgers on the tour were a little offended. Ha, whatever.
Our first stop was Blenheim Palace, the residence of the Duke of Marlborough. Wow, what a gigantic place. Churchill was born here and it is chock-full of history. As we only had an hour at the castle, I just booked it outside to look at the immense property. The palace is surrounded by lush gardens that overlook a serene lake. It was picture perfect! I parked myself under a nice old stone bench in the warm sunshine to take it all in. The bench was so old that I wondered how many illicit rendezvous happened on it over the centuries? I pondered this as I watched a boater paddle by. Seriously majestic stuff.
After the palace we ventured into Burford. Everyone on the bus paid extra money for lunch, except for me. Here’s a tip, never do that on a bus tour. Get your own lunch. There were tons of cafes and pubs on the main strip. While the bus people sat down for an hour of mediocre lunch, I picked up a small quiche, found an old church and parked it there to eat. What a great find. The church’s graveyard is so quaint and lovely and came with a tiny walking path under a tree canopy that I just couldn’t resist. What I found was another bench overlooking the stream and not a soul around. I sat there for a short while and just took in the quiet scene. Have I mentioned Jane Austen yet? I feel I’ve seen this place in Pride & Prejudice.
As I was enjoying the view and noshing on my lunch, what do I see gliding towards me down that stream? Two white swans. Are you kidding me? It was like they were on cue. I could have sat there all day.
This area makes you think, “why don’t I move here? This is ideal.” I actually met a man walking through the stores that was originally from New Zealand and had visited the area the previous year and dropped everything to move to the Cotswolds. He said he was only a few years from retirement, so why not. Good for him!
The next two towns were Stoll-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water. Both were beautiful. I wish I had more time to look around the area. They really just park you at these places to shop, but almost every store carries the same crap. Although, in Stoll I did find some art. I walked by a tiny art store and inside was an older gentleman painting a beautiful watercolour of a house in the area. He, Peter Dean, was such a nice guy and wanted to show me everything, but nothing was catching my eye.
I was about to leave when I noticed a very simple watercolour painting of a water bottle. I liked the colour of it. He said it was one of his from his sketchbook. I looked through the book and found another one I liked. I asked if he would sell them and give me a deal. He was shocked I wanted them, he said he has never sold from his sketchbook before. He gave me his card when I left. It says Peter Dean, Bio Chemist. Haha He is actually a geneticist. Very cool.
A good day was had in the country.