|Bibury, Gloucestershire, England|
Getting away for a few days in the beautiful Cotswolds brings relaxation aplenty
A FRESH, cool breeze greets my nostrils as I disembark the tour bus. It is crisp, refreshing, emanating a sense of solitude and peace. Birds hurry off into the bright sky while a slight mist drifts in across the rolling hills. As I take my first steps on the soft ground below, a warm aroma of baking bread from the local inn fills the air around us all. This is the charming countryside of the Cotswolds.
While the demanding work schedule of the month of January continues, escape in some form or other is never far from the mind of a casual citizen of the world. Life in the United Kingdom, as well as continental Europe, brings visions of grand adventures to Europe's finest cities. From Paris and Amsterdam to Munich and Barcelona - all reachable by train in a handful of hours. Such is the great advantage of living in Europe, each country seemingly blending into its closest neighbour - accessibility at its best.
However, when I first arrived in London, I had a great desire to see England and the United Kingdom first and foremost. I dreamed of picturesque train rides to Edinburgh and the Highlands of Scotland. Sea side strolls on the shores of Wales. Gazing at the white cliffs of Dover and historic treks through the ancient streets of Cirencester and York.
The Cotswolds beckons
Visiting the Cotswolds, I had a particular vision in my mind of what it would be like. Quaint little villages, inhabited by horse-riding pleasant folk who always had a friendly smile. And all this surrounded by the most delightful scenic hills and astonishing views of nature and wildlife. What I actually saw that day far exceeded my wildest imagination. Like a fairytale, it conveys an England of the imagination, rather than the daily commute of city life. Thatched cottages, flowing streams, grazing sheep, timeless churches, country pubs, silent woods and ancient marketplaces are all there to be seen in the Cotswolds. Very much the England of fantasy and history, brought to reality.
The Cotswolds are essentially 'the Shire' of England, Middle-Earth's favourite rural settlement. With Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's abode) bordering it to the northeast, and Bath in the southwest, this area in south central England is home to the rolling Cotswold Hills and the famous golden coloured Cotswold stones, of which many of the beautiful cottages are made from.
The dwellings of the Cotswolds
There is a vast assortment of towns and villages to be found in the Cotswolds, each unique in their own way. Aside from the grand view, they all have so many other things to offer, waiting for you to discover. Medieval Tewksbury awaits, as do the villages and towns of Upper and Lower Slaughters, adorable Bibury and Stow-on-the-Wold, offering hill-top views of immense contemplation.
I enjoyed every minute travelling in the Cotswolds. A truly unique part of England where you can get lost in for a week or simply a day or two. Local inns, restaurants and markets are incredibly welcoming any time of year. I loved exploring the many country lanes and town squares that I came across. Wandering silently through the historic churches that sit peacefully among the hills - only to settle down in a vintage wooden chair in a local village pub. The experiences are endless.
Venturing beyond the borders of the city can bring timeless surprises of varying beauty. The serene setting of the Cotswolds evokes peaceful thoughts and complete enjoyment to those willing to escape in the imagination of their minds. Local food, hospitality and warmth are only a few of the delights that await the restless traveller. As for myself, I can only admire the careful balance of man and nature embodied so gracefully in this part of the world. It envelops my senses at the close of the weekend as I leave this luscious land of green.