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Quainter than Quaint

BY MURIEL

sunny 23 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Walking the Pastures Around Bledington

Walking the Pastures Around Bledington

The cottage we are staying in is soooo comfortable, with a cosy kitchen nook; slanted-roofed bedrooms with large leaded windows; soft loveseats; ample kitchen equipment and space; and a small private garden space for morning chats. We took advantage of the strong sunshine and blistering temperatures (23 degrees), for both frivolous and practical reasons: first, to support breakfast in the garden and then, to line dry our clothes.
Since I had to get a blood test, our host advised us to go to ‘the surgery’ in Stow-on-the-Wold four miles away. I was able to see the nurse after just a few minutes and get the job done. Since it had cost over $100 in Turkey, I had prepared myself by stuffing my wallet with pounds. However, when I enquired as to the cost, she informed me there was no charge as England ‘has an agreement with Canada.’ Brilliant!
With chores out of the way, we set out to find some footpaths, the girls going their own way as Ben and I went another. There are many signs in each of these small towns pointing the way to public footpaths, even those running through farms. We wondered whether farmers are ever compensated for walkers trudging through their fields and livestock herds. In Europe, as well as other places, there are movements supporting the ‘right to roam’, which is the general public’s right to use public or private lands for recreation or exercise. In England in 2000, the government introduced a limited right to roam, without compensation for landowners. Now, everyone has the right to walk in certain areas of the English countryside, if they follow some conditions of care, of course. It turns out walkers have a powerful lobby! Taking advantage of this, while sticking to the marked footpaths, we walked through a few sheep herds, the only downfall being that we had to really watch our step. We saw a sign pointing the way to Kingham along the road; since it was only one mile, we made our way for the neighbouring village. After walking over half a mile, we located another sign --- which also said ‘1 mile’ to Kingham. Hmmm. Proceeding, we meandered along the road for another twenty minutes or so, only to find a third sign, this one stating there were ‘3/4 miles’ left to the elusive Kingham. Feeling as if we were on a goose chase, we turned around, leaving it to another day. However, we saw a lot of traditional village sights in Bledington. The place is just so darn quaint with its thatched roofs, beige stone houses, English country flower gardens, old churches, a homey pub, beautiful village greens and waddling ducks. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand it.

Churchyard in Bledington

Churchyard in Bledington

The next day, I awoke to birds chirping, natural light streaming through the skylight, a breeze drifting over my face and the smell of coffee coming from downstairs. It took a few minutes to leave my burrow of many pillows and soft white duvet but the anticipation of appeasing the fifth sense (taste) got me up. I realized I was energetic enough to make some Scottish scones and since we had ensured we had all the ingredients on hand, I set to work. Even with doubling the recipe, they were gone within half an hour. Next time, I’ll make sure we can try them with clotted cream as well as the jam.
The day consisted of more walks and talks. Undaunted, Ben and I went off to find Kingham, this time avoiding the roads with their unreliable mile markers and sticking to the footpaths. We made it there in half an hour, skirting the back gardens of houses, walking the fields and scaling a few stiles and bridges. We came upon the town and discovered, to our amazement, that it too was a town of ‘thatched roofs, beige stone houses, English country flower gardens, old churches, a homey pub, beautiful village greens and waddling ducks.’ What are the chances? Pretty high if you’re in the Cotswolds.

A typical Cotswold Street

A typical Cotswold Street

This week, we will have been on the road for six months. It’s hard for us to believe that we have been travelling for half a year, although some days, it feels as if it’s been a lifestyle we’ve lived for decades. This practice of booking lodging (and then valiantly trying to track it down), seeking out neighbourhood grocery stores, exploring new haunts, settling in and packing up, acquainting ourselves with local customs, making mistakes and trying again, and documenting it all through photos and journal entries has become somewhat routine. Routine in the sense that we all know what the priorities are, understand the tasks that need to be done, and participate in the dance together, sometimes awkwardly but often enough gracefully. What isn’t routine is the nature of what we can see every day, and what we’ve learned through this awesome opportunity. We’ve had to learn more patience, with each other and with circumstances; we’ve discovered we can live together in close quarters; we’ve come to understand that we can get out of every situation through problem solving and that “it will end up OK”; we have figured out how to find the isolation each of us needs at times despite the crowding; we have seen how incredibly varied and beautiful God’s creation is and how humans have added to it through the talents he has given. And I have come to appreciate Ben and the girls even more than before -- they are all such great companions. It’s good to know we still have time together when the trip ends!

Posted by KZFamily 12:54 Archived in Canada Tagged england cotswolds bledington kingham

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Comments

Dear Family,
Thank you once again for such a touching and beautiful blog! I actually got tears in my eyes, while reading about your feelings, Muriel. Yes, indeed, each member of your amazing family has contributed and continues to contribute to making your unique adventure a success. But knowing Ben, I can imagine, that before you even left Canada, you all sat down and did some planning, regarding the long time away from home. Also having two amazing daughters, who love to prepare meals, gives you a break from the kitchen duties. I can feel how you all appreciate your daily adventures, be it in the villages or hiking through the peaceful countryside.
Here's wishing you, dear Muriel, a very happy Mother's Day! I am sure your family will make you feel special.
May the sun continue to shine wherever you may go!
Edith

by Edith Roslee

Dear K/Z crew,

Thank you for noting the milestone of six months (glad to see you are maintaining your skills in managing the time line so well Muriel), and for doing such a wonderful job of taking us all on your journey. All 4 of you add a unique, but thoroughly descriptive and entertaining perspective on your varied jaunts. Absolutely wonderful, and the fact that you've grown as a family as noted by Muriel is just icing on the cake. I continue to look forward to my "mini" holidays at each opening of a new entry in your blog. Blessings to you all and continued safe journeys. Gordon

by Gordon

Loved this entry Muriel! The English countryside is indeed beautiful and I love how you can walk through farmers fields. Also appreciated your comments about traveling together, you guys have really grown together in many ways and your memories will be with you for the rest of your life.

by Christine

Dear family,
Today is Mother’s Day and no doubt you will be celebrating. Muriel you gave a lot of credit to your husband and your daughters. Allow me to write a few words of appreciation for Mother Muriel. You always have been an inspiration to all of us in the Koning family ever since you married into our family. You are a loving wife and mother and daughter in law. Thank you for sharing your joy and faith with us.
Opa.

by G Koning

You know how when you stare at a word for a while it starts to look strange? I was looking at the title of this piece and the word "quaint" did that to me. I looked up its etymology and found that it originated from "cunning" around 1200 (I'll leave it to you to look up other words with this same origin...) and later came to mean "old fashioned but charming" in the late 1700s.

by Jane1

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