Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun…
Pick a road any road in the Cotswold and you are sure to be delighted. As we drive through the countryside we spy signs for villages on “single track” roads and we want to wonder off and see what Loxley or Armscote or any of them look like…sigh so little time so many photos untaken.
I was looking forward to visiting Moreton-in-Marsh, a quaint but larger Cotswold village and we chose market day. This outdoor market had all kinds of things and all kinds of people. Vendors selling meats, baked goods, vegetables, household goods, hardware, clothing, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses…you name it it was probably there somewhere. Lauri and I found sweaters that are very different than we find at home. We purchased pasties for dinner and some veggies too. The venders work hard trying to talk you into purchasing from them and discounting this or that if you buy two. We also take the time to snoop inside several “charity shops” (thrift stores) and found a few treasures too. And the best part is that while we are enjoying our shopping our laundry was getting done for us.
It is a genuine adventure we planned for Thursday and we started in Snowshill…pronounced by the locals as Snowzill…talk about Cotswolds charm. Following the signs to the towns and villages in England is a challenge as sometimes they seem to list all tiny villages not on our map and you don’t know which way to go on the roundabout. Sometimes they list the larger towns but more often than not they give you a sign, you follow it and keep going and going wondering if you are on the right road because there isn’t another sign.
This was true for Snowshill. We travel a long way on a one lane road wondering if we got it right but then we see a little turn to Snowshill Lavender Farms. We follow that past the farms but there wasn’t a village or the manor house we were seeking. At the next crossroads there are no signs at all, which was odd because the post was there. Cindy hopped out of the car to see if there was a sign on the ground or anything. She gleefully holds a sign for Snowshill aloft then she tried to match it to its mounts. Hmmm…that didn’t work, it seemed to fit either direction. We keep going on our best deductive guess for a half mile or so when I spot a photo-op and pull the car over. While we are taking photos a farmer on his tractor happens by with this huge dog…Stafford something and English Mastif cross. I asked him the direction to Snowshill and he gave me a funny look and said this is “Snozzle” and pointed up the road we were traveling.
Just over the rise we enter the prettiest Cotswold village we have seen yet nestled on a hillside. “Oh wow” we state collectively. Not an uncommon thing for us to say in the Cotswolds. We find the Snowshill Manor easily and begin touring the grounds and home of Charles Paget Wade. Fascinating place and very different from the other homes we’ve visited. He was an avid collector of anything that had exceptional craftsmanship, whether it be art, furnishings, clothing, toys, bicycles, you name it. He had purchased the home and gardens just to display his collections and save them for future admirers. He has over 22,000 items in the collection and it took three years to create a digital catalog of them. He and his wife chose to live in some tiny buildings in the gardens yet he furnished them with modern conveniences including indoor plumbing, a bath tub, and a “thunder” toilet.
His gardens are a lot like his collections with a large variety of plants and added details like model villages, ponds, fountains, and statuary. Each garden was like a secret garden and seemed to be an outdoor room in itself. There are many great views of the countryside too.
We had packed a picnic lunch and chose a shady spot on the tiny main square (a triangle really) in the village. What a pleasant place to relax breath the fresh air and just enjoy our surroundings. We took a few photos and were on our way.
Now for some serious walking; we found a footpath to follow that sounded like a great idea. It begins in a village called Stow on the Wold, crosses farms, fields, a large estate, and woods, greeting cattle, sheep, and some very fine horses. The guide book says it is an easy downhill walk to Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, and finish in Burton on the Water in about 2 hours. No we didn’t walk back, we took the bus. However the walk was harder than we thought it might be, largely because of the heat. Yet it was a very pleasant challenge. We even met a couple that lived on an estate (they leased one of the homes on it) and their dogs. They walked a while with us, pointed us in the right direct, and even gave us a recommendation for tea. All-in-all it was a great experience but we spent so much time enjoying Snowshill that everything in Burton on the Water was closed for the evening when we got there. I think we made the better choice taking our time in Snowhill anyway.
Stratford upon Avon and Shakespeare next time…
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