A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about bledington

Caught up in the Cotswolds

by Ben

rain 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we went grocery shopping and did a few other errands in nearby Stow-in-the-Wold while the kids baked cookies (a common event at home but rarely possible on the road) and got caught up on our travel blog. When we returned home the rain was plentiful so we opted to do laundry rather than venture outdoors. Muriel and I also spent a good deal of time on logistics for our 78 days back on the continent. Muriel has managed to book quite a few more apartments and houses, leaving just 16 more days accommodation left unaccounted for. It is a great feeling to have that work out of the way including our ferry passage to France, our car lease for the continent and of course our plane tickets home.

We also took a bit of time to sort through all our belongings and put everything back in its proper place and jettison a few others. We have acquired a number of souveniers so we are always looking for ways of creating a bit more room. The rainy weather outside made it easier to buckle down to all these tasks. Fortunately, late in the afternoon, the sun did make its appearance and Muriel and I were able to take a short walk around the village. The fresh scent in the air was intoxicating. The village and the vegetation surrounding it take on an even more brilliant hue just after a spring rain. It is not hard to understand why many generations of the same families have continued to live in the Cotswolds, while many other city folk vie for the chance to buy property here. It may be time to get travelling soon or else we might run the risk of getting too caught up in this idyllic area and never leave.

Posted by KZFamily 08:43 Archived in England Tagged england cotswolds bledington Comments (2)

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 Comments (5)

A Storybook Kind of Day

by Ben

sunny 21 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

English Style Feast with Cousin Janet

English Style Feast with Cousin Janet

Today, we travelled to the Cotswolds area via Stoke-on-Trent. The sun was shining, the warm wind was at our back and even the heavy traffic kept flowing at a pleasant pace. It was foreshadowing for a special day.

We adopted our peculiar travel route so we could stop in and visit Muriel’s mom’s cousin, Janet. In their childhood, Janet and Muriel’s mom were aware of each other’s existence through family correspondence but have never met or corresponded as adults. Muriel’s grandfather had emigrated alone to Canada as a young man before World War I and only returned home to England once in the 1960s.

Twenty one years ago, Muriel and I looked Janet up while we were travelling in England. It was a visit which we fondly remember. In 2002, Janet did a world tour and visited us for a few days in Victoria. She was game for anything. She even accompanied me on a daytrip to see my parents in Port Alberni and to help me transport a piano back to Victoria.

Janet is a Paediatrician who has worked for a good number of years in Uganda and the Balkans as well as England. She has done a lot of groundbreaking work in the philosophy and approach to child care. Until about four years ago she was still speaking at conferences around the world and is currently working on her second book on Christian thought. She is in her eighties.

When Muriel had made contact with Janet regarding a visit a few months ago, Janet invited us to have lunch at her house rather than allow us to take her out for a meal. Little did we know what sort of banquet she would prepare in honour of our visit. We had homemade carrot soup and cheese scones to start, followed by salad, quiche, various cold cuts, coronation salad, coleslaw, asparagus, beets, and hard boiled eggs (I am sure I forgot some items). This feast was topped off with a desert of lemon cheese cake, blue berries and raspberries, and ice cream (yes, we had them all!). Afterwards we retired to the sitting room for coffee and chocolates.

Muriel’s mom had sent along some photographs dating back 100 years and some letters of the same vintage that her father had exchanged with relations in England. Among a number of items that Janet gave along in return was a book that Muriel’s grandfather had gifted to his mother prior to World War I. Janet also showed us the scrapbook she had made during her around the world trip. Included in it were pictures that Hannah and Abby had drawn for her eleven ago.

Milton Cottage: Our Home in the Cotswolds

Milton Cottage: Our Home in the Cotswolds

Our three hours with Janet, evaporated all too quickly. She is an intelligent, humorous, and generous person. She sent us on our way with a prayer and words of blessing and two grocery bags full of food. We left feeling enriched in body, soul and mind.

The warmth generated by our visit with Janet stayed with us right through to our destination. The Cotswolds are a 90 mile long range of grass, forest and limestone covered hills. The region is dotted with picture postcard villages built from yellowish limestone. We have rented Milton Cottage in Bledington. The village looks like it is right out of some sort of fairytale. The cottage itself, although built of red brick rather than stone, is a magical blend of comfort and charm. Hannah has a 6 burner two oven gas range on which to further hone her chef skills. Abby enjoys having her own room and Muriel and I have a comfortable patio where we can soak up the sun and listen to the birds sing. We have eight days here to relax, walk and generally enjoy the environs. It has been a storybook ending to a special day.

Posted by KZFamily 11:23 Archived in England Tagged england cotswolds stoke-on-trent bledington Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]