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England 2010, Day 2: Cotswold Farm Park and More Village Exploration

August 26, 2010

Monday, July 26—We forego the full English breakfast in favor of cold cereal, yogurt, flaky croissants, toast, and tea. Again we saw Sally at breakfast and had a long chat before making our preparations for the day. We enjoyed our two nights at Warwick House, but had to switch to a new B&B for our last night in Moreton as Charlie had a group coming in taking all the rooms.

Kymalton House, our new B&B, is on the other side of town, but thankfully we know to take the back footpath through the neighborhoods.

Kymalton House (from the web site)

We dropped off our bags, and set off for the TI (Tourist Information) to check the bus schedule and make our plan for the day. It’s hard to decide which few things to see and do when you want to fit everything in!

Bus schedule and day plan in hand, we went to wait for the bus to Stow-on-the-Wold. It was already lunchtime by the time we arrived in Stow, and we decided to try one of the local pubs, The Queen’s Head.

The Queen’s Head interior is a good example of a typical English pub with dark wood and comfortable corners, but as soon as I saw the back courtyard there was no question where we would be eating.

Don’t miss the two dog water bowls!

Fresh herbs and veggies growing in containers

Then came the food. Oh, the delicious food! Baguette with baked cheese round and cranberry chutney, garden salad with homemade house dressing, and a big bowl of chips (fries). See the clear liquid? That’s more of that delicious lemonade. Surprisingly, malt vinegar on chips is actually kind of good.

When we first arrived at the Queen’s Head, we were the only people in the courtyard, but that soon changed. Two dogs even joined us, with their owners, of course. We met a new breed of dog we’d never heard of before, a lurcher. There was also a fantastic sign taped to the inside of the front door that read:




Next stop: Stow’s TI to see about ordering a taxi to take us to the Cotswold Farm Park, which happens to be out in the middle of nowhere. We made arrangements and went back up to the main square to wait for our ride. John picked us up and we quickly realized that he thought he was supposed to take us to a different park in the area. “No problem,” he said. “I think I know where this place is.”

Thankfully we weren’t paying by the meter as we ended up with an impromptu, meandering tour of the countryside complete with commentary on all manner of subjects.

At last we made it to the Farm Park! After making arrangements to be picked up again in a couple hours, we made our way inside where we bought two small bags of feed pellets along with our tickets. Jeff was particularly excited to see all the animals. The Cotswold Farm Park has lots of kid-friendly activities, but specializes in rare and endangered breeds of local animals with a goal of preservation, conversation, and education.

Would you believe these are sheep? These are what the first English sheep looked like before they were selectively breed.

Up close and personal

We both got to feed the baby lambs!

I loved these signs in the demonstration barn:

Greedy goats

Texel sheep

The sheep and the goats

Notice the four horns on this next one. From the educational sign: “Joseph’s coat of many colours is thought to have been made from the wool of Jacob sheep and The Bible certainly records advice given by God to Joseph’s father Jacob, on how to breed spotted lambs, including using only spotted rams (Genesis 30 & 31). This is probably the first written record of selective breeding!

Jeff befriending a Jacob sheep

Mmmm... salty...

And last, but certainly not least, the famous Cotswold sheep. Again, from the educational sign: “Brought to Britain by the Romans these sheep once roamed the Cotswold Hills in their thousands and were known as the ‘Cotswold Lion.’ The hills take their name from the sheep. These were the “wolds” or bare hills, of the sheep “cots” or sheep enclosures. During the middle ages their wool was sold to produce great wealth, enabling the local merchants to build beautiful manor houses and churches.”

It had been threatening rain most of the day, and the skies opened up on us just as we were finishing. Thankfully it was just a quick downpour, and it was dry for our next stop. Our next taxi driver took us to the large village of Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” for the stream that runs through the middle of the village.

While less than a foot deep, the stream is technically River Windrush. Our taxi driver told us that they play a football match in the river every summer. Not sure how that works exactly, but it sounds like fun!

Next we took the bus back up to Stow-on-the-Wold to finish exploring the town. Rick (that’s our Rick Steves’ England 2010 guide that was our constant companion) told us that a visit to Stow was not complete until you locked your partner in the stocks in the town square. Who were we to argue?

I told Jeff to look angry and that’s what I got. :)

The church is one of the highlights of the town:

However, the real highlight of the church is this door around back, flanked by two ancient yew trees:

Tolkien fans, what do you see? Perhaps the entrance to Moria? Tolkien hiked all over the Cotswolds, and many believe this door to be his inspiration for the door to Moria. How cool is that, really?!? Apparently some also view it as, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”

Knocking and speaking “friend” to see if the dwarves will let me in to Moria

Napping in the churchyard

Market Cross in the town square

About 20 inns in England claim to be the oldest in the country, and this is one of them:

Circa 947 AD

The oldest inn in England?

Fleece alley: just wide enough for a single file of sheep to walk into the market square – all the easier to count them

Dogs are even allowed in some of the nice shops, not just the pubs

After exploring Stow, we bought some ice cream and chocolates, which we ate while we waited on a bench near the stocks for the last bus of the day to come and take us back home to Moreton. When the bus didn’t show, we realized that we’d read the bus schedule wrong. We were waiting for the last Saturday bus time… but it was Monday. After critiquing the schedule layout (like good TPC grads), we scratched our heads and tried to figure out what to do. We were only one town over from where we needed to be, but about 5 miles away. After some thought, we decided our only course of action was to find someplace to let us borrow a phone and call for a taxi.

We entered what looked to be a very nice hotel, and were soon directed to a pay phone. Thankfully we had a sheet of local taxi companies that we’d picked up from the TI in Moreton. The pay phone itself was somewhat confusing. Jeff had to wait until someone answered on the other line and then immediate drop a coin in the slot. It was unclear how much money paid for how much time. Once he reached someone, he had to call back multiple times because the phone kept cutting him off. Of course, the taxi service wanted to know specifically where we were and we didn’t know. So I went walking as fast as possible out to the front of the building to find out! Finally we had someone coming to get us in about 10 minutes so we walked back out to the entrance. About 10 minutes later, a lady came scurrying out to us, asking if we’re the Americans who called the taxi. Apparently the hotel had three entrances, and taxis come to the back one. Of course. At this point we’re just glad to be getting home—even if it was for the price of a taxi rather than two bus fares.

Our innkeeper at Kymalton, Doug, had already taken our bags up to our room when we got back. And what a lovely room it was—tastefully decorated and with a view down into the front garden.

For dinner, we tried to go to a little Thai restaurant we’d been hearing great things about, but they were sadly closed on Mondays. Instead we went to ASK, a popular Italian chain around the U.K.

We ordered garlic bread for an appetizer, and when it arrived were surprised to see what was essentially a baked pizza crust with olive oil and crushed garlic. It was very good, just not American garlic bread. Another surprise was Jeff’s strawberry “Freshly Made Milkshake”—just milk with strawberry syrup mixed in. My drink was a sparkling pomegranate and raspberry Fruitiser—delicious. For the meal, I ordered the Estiva pizza: baked with tomato and mozzarella, and fresh out of the oven, topped with baby mozzarella, prosciutto, and a layer of fresh rocket (arugula). Jeff had a grilled chicken and pasta dish. Both were delicious.

Read the introduction to our trip, and about my initial travel, our first evening in the Cotswolds, and seeing the English countryside by bicycle.

52 Comments leave one →
  1. Jaimie permalink
    August 26, 2010 9:11 am

    The latter half of these pictures remind me of Dublin.

    I love how with the door you’re like “Look, Tolkien! Oh, apparently the Bible, too.”

    And malt vinegar on fries………… mmmmmmmmmmmm………… The flavor floats right up into your nose, eyes and brain.

    • August 26, 2010 10:13 am

      I really want to go back to England again someday, but now I also want to see Scotland and Ireland. Really I have the travel bug, and want to see the world, but the rest of the British Isles would be a good start. I loved the scenes of Dublin in Once.

      • Colin L Beadon permalink
        August 26, 2010 8:47 pm

        Sara, read the book by the American writer Paul Theroux.
        His ‘ The Kingdom by the sea ‘ . He knows and loves the UK well, and all its strange and wonderful places. Colin

      • September 6, 2010 5:14 am

        I loved reading your experience of the Cotswolds, I live right next door to the area and it is good to read an American perspective. You mentioned about wanting to visit Scotland and Ireland, do not forget Wales it is well worth the visit especially around Snowdonia.

  2. August 26, 2010 11:10 am

    Ah, thank you, thank you, thank you for this tour! My daughter lives in London, but as many times as I have visited, I have never been to the Cotswalds. She has, of course. Next trip: absolutely!

  3. August 26, 2010 11:11 am

    Whoops, I mistyped! Of course: Cotswolds!

  4. August 26, 2010 11:40 am

    Very cool post. On another note, love you’re going to be a doula! Best wishes on that endeavor:)

  5. August 26, 2010 11:45 am

    I love the door to Moria, Tolkien be Damned, it’s just cool! I would love to get to England, it’s in the plans soon!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Modern Funk. permalink
    August 26, 2010 11:51 am

    Great photos!

  7. August 26, 2010 11:56 am

    beautiful photos

  8. Sunflowerdiva permalink
    August 26, 2010 12:08 pm

    Awwww, those sheep … !!!!! England is beautiful. I’d love to travel there someday. Great pictures!

  9. August 26, 2010 12:13 pm

    Lovely adventure! The nose to nose sheep image is my favourite…

  10. August 26, 2010 1:07 pm

    Love the pictures! Beautiful — and as romantic as I always imagine living in a village (or visiting one) might be.


  11. August 26, 2010 1:42 pm

    Thanks, everyone, for your kind words! I’m glad our trip has brought enjoyment to others as well.

  12. August 26, 2010 1:49 pm

    This was such a fun post, as I just went on a walking trip through the Cotswolds this summer, and it brought back all of the memories–the pubs, the inns, the churchyards, the sheep…beautiful!

    • August 26, 2010 3:13 pm

      How fun for you! We passed a few walkers on our bikes. I would love to go back and do a walking tour sometime — our 2.5 days there were much too short. I assume you were on the Cotswold Way? How far did you walk?

      • The Rowdy Chowgirl permalink
        August 26, 2010 9:54 pm

        Yes, we did the upper half of the Cotswold Way–50 miles in 5 days. It was wonderful to see the countryside at a walking pace. Then we spent a few days in Oxford and London. If you’re interested, I wrote a series of posts about our trip, starting with this one:

        Someday I’d like to do a bicycle trip too…maybe through the French countryside?

        • August 26, 2010 10:38 pm

          Sounds lovely! We also went from the Cotswolds to Oxford to London. I will definitely read about your trip as soon as I have a moment in between writing about mine. :) We wanted to take the ferry across to see a bit of the French countryside, but we had nowhere near that time. One day…

  13. Jen permalink
    August 26, 2010 2:23 pm

    hahaha, yeah, the food is never quite what you expect to be getting…I remember ordering a BLT in London and getting a sandwich with slices of ham, lettuce and BUTTER…it was interesting.
    I LOVE England though. Can’t wait to go back! =)

  14. August 26, 2010 2:43 pm

    Looks amazing. I went to England once just for a few days, and I would love to go back.

    Wasn’t Cotswolds where they filmed that movie The Holiday?

    Cotswolds looks amazing and beautiful.

    • August 26, 2010 3:01 pm

      Actually, The Holiday was filmed in Surrey, southwest of London (had to look it up). I loved the countryside in that movie!

  15. August 26, 2010 3:05 pm

    OH! – My bad! I think they MENTIONED Cotswold early on when she was looking for a place.

    Either way, it looks amazing there. What an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing!!

  16. August 26, 2010 3:20 pm

    I want to go back to England! Is is possible to be homesick for a place where you’ve never lived?

    • Colin L Beadon permalink
      August 26, 2010 8:39 pm

      Kathy, yes. At least, I can confirm it is possible to greatly miss a place you lived in for far too short a time, under the shortages and uncertainties of war. Go back while you can, and enjoy the Cottsworlds and their small tender villages, though they may be piled with tourist buses which I never saw. All I remember well, where their roses and quiet almost deserted streets and home windows full of boxes of flowers, and a cart horse with huge fetlocks, pulling a cart full of hay.

      • August 26, 2010 9:01 pm

        Our experience was that there are a few places bustling with tourists, but they mostly clear out by 6:00 in the evening. In the smallest villages that we saw by bicycle (see my previous post), we saw hardly a soul… just a few people out tending their gardens. It was just as Colin described.

  17. August 26, 2010 4:13 pm

    lots of lovely things! xf

  18. August 26, 2010 4:16 pm

    I absolutely loved travelling with you through your blog and beautiful pictures of the Cotswolds.
    Most enjoyable.

  19. August 26, 2010 5:08 pm

    So glad I read your Cotswold entry since it brought back vivid memories of my memorable trip there 10 years ago. I am heartily sorry my guidebook didn’t direct me to the yew-tree-flanked church entrance affiliated with Tolkien.

  20. bagnidilucca permalink
    August 26, 2010 5:17 pm

    I love the Cotswold area and you pictures remind me of all the lovely things I saw there. Thank you.

  21. August 26, 2010 5:29 pm

    I love your pictures and the video. We went to London about 10 years ago and now we really want to go back. Great post!

  22. Colin L Beadon permalink
    August 26, 2010 8:30 pm

    I grew up in the Cottswolds. It was during the war. Bourton -on- Water was like my Alice in Wonderland home, and I’ve been back so many times, to make sure it still exists.
    It is difficult to compare the old traditional parts of England, to any other places in the world, mainly because it leaves them so far behind, and wanting.
    How long these places with last, with the sweep of Islam, and other general thuggery, is anybodies guess.

    • August 26, 2010 8:57 pm

      How fortunate for you that you got to live there for a time! Thanks for the book recommendation as well. I will have to look that one up.

  23. August 26, 2010 9:13 pm

    Hey there — found you on freshly pressed and now you’ve got a new follower! Love your England photos and enjoying reading about your trip. Thanks for sharing!

  24. August 26, 2010 10:43 pm

    I loved the Cotswolds, especially Shakespeare’s hometown. And to see acres of lavender on the way. I want to go back. Your pictures brought back memories of my trip there with my daughter.

  25. gilkolee permalink
    August 26, 2010 11:43 pm

    Hi Sarah, I am currently figuring out on my blog on whether how to have my photos enlarge and having the template like yours ( with the column ” Friends”). Looking forward for your reply :)

  26. squirrelsloveacorns permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:04 am

    I loved this blog more than any so far due to the fact that I can relate to the photography, gardening, farming, sheep shearing, and everything else. It was enjoyable and please keep writing and posting the photographs that you have.

    Loved it.

  27. August 27, 2010 12:12 am

    Ok, so… the DOOR! Oh good lord, the door. When I saw the first picture, I said, out loud, “OMG, she found Moria!” And then I laughed when I read your captions. Yessss. Tolkien fans, unite!

    Besides that, well… I will just say this post was lovely. And now I’m weepy and nostalgic and homesick for the UK.


    • August 27, 2010 12:35 am

      I know, right? I’ll post more pictures of it on FB eventually. The roots were amazing – these pictures barely show them. Also, the door is kind of small for Moria, but obviously it’s bigger if you’re a dwarf or a hobbit. ;)

      You think you’re weepy, nostalgic, and homesick now… just wait for tomorrow: Oxford. I’m so jealous that you’ve gotten to spend so much time over there. I want to move there! Wanna come with?

  28. August 27, 2010 12:26 am

    Fantastic settings. might make an adveture out of it and visit. I live in England but it;s hard to come by information on such beautiful ancient places.

  29. August 27, 2010 12:38 am

    Beautiful blog and a lovely post. I think I am going to make my own copy of the “Dogs Welcome” sign for my own house.

    • August 27, 2010 12:41 am

      What a wonderful idea! Now why didn’t I think of that?

  30. Laura permalink
    August 27, 2010 1:19 am

    That door is too cool, and so are the sheep. I want to buy some of the fleece, but then I guess I’d have to figure out what to do with it. :)

    I was chatting to an English friend today who was feeling inferior to all us postcolonial North American types with all kinds of exotic backgrounds. Little does he know we’re all wildly jealous of him. Being English sure isn’t anything to be ashamed of.

    • August 27, 2010 12:59 pm

      I know exactly what you mean about the fleece. Such a bargain and so cool, but I don’t have a spinning wheel. :) Funny about your friend. Apparently he hasn’t met that many anglophiles.

  31. August 27, 2010 2:19 am


  32. christinelaennec permalink
    August 27, 2010 4:33 am

    Thank you for such an interesting “tour” of a part of England I’ve long wanted to explore.

  33. August 27, 2010 6:30 am

    This was great to see, I have been to Englad but not this part. All the pictures really paint the picture of your trip.

  34. Colin L Beadon permalink
    August 27, 2010 7:25 am

    Go back and look at the beauty of the Cotswold sand stone on all the homes and shops, the village street walls, the churches, pubs.
    That pale, aged- sandy yellow in the sun. It is one of the memory making reasons you can’t forget that area of England, ever, once you have stayed there a little.

  35. August 27, 2010 9:41 am

    I am a UK ex-pat now living in Spain! I loved every word and photograph of your blog. Know Stow and Moreton very well, so it was good to have my memory refreshed. It looks as though you had a good time – and I hope your blog will encourage others to visit this beautiful part of the UK.

  36. dancingbeastie permalink
    August 27, 2010 10:55 am

    Hi, I stumbled across this through Freshly Pressed and it took me back to many happy wanders in the Cotswolds when I was a student in Oxford. And Oh, the DOOR! Yes, yes, it’s Moria! How wonderful that you ‘recognised’ it, and even more that you tried speaking ‘friend’ ! (I hope you got in?!) I write a lot about trees in my blog about rural Scotland, and often try to sneak in a little Tolkien reference too. ;)

    • August 27, 2010 12:53 pm

      Well, I must confess, our guidebook told us about the door ahead of time. I knew we had to go to Stow for the door, if for nothing else!

  37. sayitinasong permalink
    August 27, 2010 11:12 am

    Cotswold is such a beautilful part of the country! I would love a holiday like yours- stopping at pubs (nothing beats a good steak and chilled rose wine)…stopping at farms… it made me laugh re: the old Inns that claim to be the oldest in the country… pubs are the same… lol….

  38. October 8, 2010 8:46 am

    Let me introduce myself. I am managing editor of a scientific journal published in Indonesia. If you do not mind, I intend to use one of your picture on Texel sheep on this page to the front cover of one edition of our journal. Your name will be mentioned in the title credits.
    Thank you

    Solo – Indonesia

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