|Flower-dotted golden yellow Cottages in Moreton-in-Marsh|
Every now and then, there comes a phase in one's life when one yearns for a break. At such times, you want to retreat to your own space, where you would be free to do what you want to do for however long, where you do not fear being judged. In my imagination, at least for me, such a place is Cotswolds, in the UK. I have been there just once, only for a few hours, but the place has stuck with me, leaving a rather deep impression in my memory. For all that this place is, and all that it promises, Cotswolds definitely deserves its own Time-Turner post.
|Entrance to a narrow pathway or street is called a "Close" here. This particular Close was in Bourton-on-the-Water|
Cotswolds is a narrow sliver of land that runs through six English counties, mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, in south-central England. The area sits on a bed of ancient Jurassic era limestone that gives Cotswold its grassland like flora and also the trademark golden/yellow cottages that are constructed using the stone. The cottages have ruled my heart for years. I visited Cotswold in 2011 and in my mind the area is a little more than a green and yellow haze because of the startling contrast between rolling green hills that stretch for miles and the golden cottages that dot the area.
|My Friend Hannah surrounded by all the splendor. This is Bourton-on-the-water again, and you can probably see that the cottages are smaller and daintier than the ones in Moreton-in-Marsh.|
I don't remember much from our first stop in Cotswolds. All I remember is that Moreton-in-Marsh struck me as exquisite because this was really the first time I was absorbing the splendor of the stone cottages. But the impression would quickly be replaced by something much more memorable. Another aspect that I remember is that the main market street had a cute teashop named Mrs. T. Potts Tearoom. It looked dainty and the only factor that came in the way of us going in was this was only a 45-minute stop.
|Mrs T.Potts Tearoom - needs no further explanation|
Soon, we were on the way to the next stop in Cotswolds - Bourton-on-the-Water. Now this is the place that symbolizes the entire Cotswolds for me. The cottages here were much smaller than the ones in Moreton-in-Marsh. There were many narrow alleys flanked by the pretty cottages. Adding to the charm were the colorful flowers planted in the many window boxes. I felt like roaming around these streets, talking to the wonderful people who live in such pretty houses. And I felt like doing this for hours. Unfortunately our coach trip did not allow this flexibility and I was less daring back then.
|River Windrush flowing through Bourton-on-the-Water|
The highlight of the halt at Bourton-on-the-Water is the benign river Windrush that flows through the village. Low bridges connect the two banks every now and then, and children, adults, and the elderly all seem relaxed and laid back. Some sit with their feet dipped in the river, while others patiently wait for fish to bite at their baits. There were kids running around, just being kids, and a general sense of peace, calm, and well-being prevailed in this Utopian village.
|People lounging around The Little Nook in Bourton-on-the-Water|
Very soon it was time to move on to the next stop in Cotswolds. We had no idea of the next halt, though we knew that it was another town/village in the Cotswolds. Bourton-on-the-Water had set the bar very high and we were looking forward to it. Secretly, I still wished we had at least another couple of hours at Bourton.
|Bourton-on-the-Water - I definitely didn't want to leave this place|
The last stop in Cotswolds was Stow-on-the-Wold. I remember being slightly disappointed when we alighted here. The cottages, though golden, were similar to the ones in Moreton in Marsh - larger, not as cute as the ones in Bourton on the Water. There was a little shopping street however with look and feel completely different from the rest of the Cotswold. Hannah had a good time here browsing through all the antique shops.
|Very unusual market street in Stow-on-the-Wold. This stands out by rebelling against the Cotswolds' theme. I wish it hadn't rebelled though.|
The trip ended on a not-so-high note, though it deserved a much better conclusion. Given a chance, I would definitely go back to Bourton on the Water and spend at least 5 days there. I would explore all shops, restaurants, and dishes, and I would walk through all the "Closes" admiring flowers and architecture to my heart's content. I would then sit on the banks of the river Windrush and enjoy the gentle flow of the stream. Hell, I would probably retire there and buy a pretty cottage of my own. The place is definitely worth it all.