Three Days in the Cotswolds

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After a few days in busy London we made our way to Oxford where we picked up a rental car that would get us further into the Cotswolds, a rural area of rolling hills, thatched-roof homes, and endless charm, where we would stay for a few days. The drive was smooth (if not effortless–thanks Adam for braving the “wrong” side of the road!) and beautiful and we were so happy to arrive at The Lamb Inn in Burford.

I cannot recommend this little bed & breakfast highly enough. It was located on a side street, meaning it was extra quiet, and all the quaint touches around the inn made it feel so special and cozy. In the sitting rooms two fires were regularly stoked each day (despite temperatures in the 60s and 70s…we didn’t mind!), and it was full of over-stuffed chairs and sofas perfect for nursing a pint of local brew or a cup of tea and reading a good book. There was also a pub with delicious food and a restaurant that would be a perfect spot for a bit of a fancy dinner. I loved the cheery and comfortable rooms and the staff couldn’t have been more lovely. Can you tell I loved this place?! I would go back in an instant.

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After a late lunch of fish and chips and bangers and mash, we all went out for a walk through town to check out the adorable cottages and shops that were already closing up for the day. That night we ate at The Highway Inn, which is a local favorite. Unfortunately they were out of all the best things on the menu but overall it was a pretty good dinner.

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The next day we took some recommendations from the staff and headed to Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden, and Broadway—all little villages dotted throughout the countryside. We took our time in each spot and enjoyed window shopping, walking the narrow streets, and stopping in pubs and cafes for a break. It was a leisurely day with little agenda; I loved it.

A few snaps from Stow-on-the-Wold:

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Taller than Adam for once!

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One tip would be to bring rain gear wherever you go. A sprinkle or mid-day rain is not uncommon and it’s best to be prepared with a rain jacket or umbrella. Also, comfortable shoes are a must, as are layers. English weather has a tendency to turn drafty and cool so come bearing layers.

Also I would srecommend you rent a car for a proper visit. There are a handful of tours you can take that will stop off at many of the towns in the Gloucestershire area, but it was so nice to have our own car and to make our own itinerary. You’ll just need to remember to keep to the left!

And a few snaps from Chipping Campden

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We ate dinner in Broadway that evening at The Swan, which was tasty. In fact, I wish would could have spent a little more time there as it looked very cute and full of fun shops. But there are so many little towns in the area that it’s hard to go wrong with any of them.

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The next day we drove to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare and I’m sorry to say that this was one spot that actually did disappoint. For such a small place it is so overdeveloped and cheesy that I didn’t actually enjoy walking around there too much. It might have been nicer to spend more time walking along the river but the pouring rain drove us out of town early. Of course if you are hoping to see something from the Royal Shakespeare Company then it is worth a visit, otherwise I’d recommend skipping it.

That afternoon I had tea and scones in our room while Adam explored Burford a bit more and we had a nice (anniversary!) dinner at The Bull (order the rarebit as a starter). We took off early in the morning to catch a bus from Oxford to Heathrow and made it back to Bern in time for summer to arrive! Boy, we are so happy to see the sun here. It’s like a different place.

I’d love to come back to the Cotswolds sometime and imagine renting a place in the country for a couple weeks with family and friends. It was so relaxing and peaceful and everyone was so friendly. Have you been? I’d definitely suggest going there for a country holiday after a bustling London tour.

Foggy London Town

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Last week Adam and I spent a week in England with Adam’s best friend Kyle and his wife Katie. We hadn’t seen them since we attended their wedding last October (in which Adam was best man, ahem) so it was a treat to catch up with them overseas. They are both so funny and easy going, which made traveling fun and low-key. We passed around a bit of a summer cold (that actually knocked me out all this week…), but despite feeling under the weather at some points, we had a great time exploring London and the Cotswolds.

While in London we stayed in an Airbnb in the Notting Hill/Kensington area, which was beautiful and quiet. Our flat was pretty close to Portobello Road with all its markets, shops and restaurants. We did some poking around in the area and had a great meal at e&o on our first night. I’d highly recommend ordering just about everything on the starter menu and the fried brown rice with whatever unique main you choose.

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We also gobbled up very juicy burgers covered in American cheese and something called “freddar” from a chain called Byron. It’s certainly unexpected and not at all sexy to get cheeseburgers in England, but a really good one (washed down with root beer!) is a rarity here so we like to grab one while we’re out of the country. It turned out to be great fuel for moseying around the British Museum in the afternoon where we saw ancient Egyptian artifacts and dozens of very cute little British children in matching uniforms.

Of course no tour of the city is complete without popping into a dark, carpeted pub in the middle of the afternoon. We found a cozy one in the Lamb’s Conduit area and spent an hour there catching up. Resist the urge to sit outside, even if it is lovely. The whole point is to belly up to the old wooden bar or hunker down in a corner booth : )

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We also spent a little time around some of the bigger highlights, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. One could spend a lot more time at these places than we did, but there is just so much to see in that gigantic city and we wanted to keep moving.

I do wish we would have spent more time in the east part of the city, which is apparently “where all the action is”. But we did get an afternoon to walk the streets of Shoreditch and I liked seeing all the people knock off work with a beer and spill out onto the sidewalks during happy hour. We found a lush beer garden through an alley, which proved a popular spot for locals. There are cool boutiques and restaurants in this area and I think it might be a fun place to stay should we visit the city again.

That night we had the best dinner at 8 Hoxton Square and I can’t recommend that place highly enough. It was the perfect evening to sit outside and share some small plates before digging into bowls of pasta, juicy steak and perfectly cooked sea bass over panzanella.

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Our time in London felt very brief and honestly I’d like the chance to return for a longer period of time with a more condensed itinerary. I felt overwhelmed with all there is to do and see!

Have you been? What was your favorite part of the city? And what would you recommend for others planning a trip?