So English it hurts: a weekend in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is an area of southern central England that straddles Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and is one of those parts of the country that feels quintessentially English. All the clichés are there: the tea shoppes, the ye olde pubs, the charming golden-coloured stone houses, the green and pleasant hills. There’s even Union Jack bunting.
This part of England built its wealth on the sheep’s back, and the lovely towns and villages of the Cotswolds originally owed their existence to the fertile grazing land around them that supported sheep farming for the thriving wool trade in medieval England.
Today, there is an argument that there’s something slightly sanitised about this vision of Little England, which is essentially wealthy, conservative, and pretty. But then you spy another cute tea shop or a wisteria-covered cottage and you kind of forget that in the thrill that passes over you. Or maybe that’s just me. I love to visit; I’m just not sure I’d want to live there.
It’s easily accessible as a day trip from London, but it’s worth spending a few days here if you can, perhaps taking in a trip to Oxford or Bath at the same time. My favourite villages are the Slaughters (Upper and Lower), Bourton-on-the-Water, and Stow-on-the-Wold (I mean, even the names are adorable). The village of Castle Combe is one of those Instagram clichés that is completely justified given how attractive it is; Bibury is similarly photogenic. They can get very crowded and busy in the summer months, especially on weekends, so do bear that in mind when planning your visit.