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Cats, Cathedrals and Ciders: The South of England: Day 9

29 Jun

Fri. May 20, 2016:
Bath to Cotswalds

Once again breakfast was included and once again Brent had the full English breakfast, I stole some of his toast to go with my yogurt, granola and fruit. This time though the full English breakfast had blood pudding instead of baked beans. Because we were in a fancy hotel with a no-running-shoes dress code in the dining room we had to get dressed up all fancy- for a complimentary hotel breakfast! Before heading into the dining room we stopped at the car to check what time we had to leave at and whether we would have to rush through breakfast. I was not expecting to see cows on the other side of the fence, past the field near the parking lot (the supposed helipad). Therefore we would indeed have to hurry through breakfast so we could pack up and I could take pictures of the cows before they left. The blood pudding was ok, I just could not get past the weird texture- it was lumpy and grainy, I had been expecting something more like a pâté. So far this place had the best granola and the best breakfast sausage. The in-house-made danish was amazing. It was so delicious, owing to how fresh it was.

On the way down to the car, after packing as fast as I could, I looked out the window to ensure that the cows were still in the field. I slowly crept towards them, there were so many and they were so cute! Half of the front row started staring at me, it felt so good to have so many cows looking at me. Suddenly two of them started head-butting each other for no apparent reason. A third one came over to join in the fray, leaving a gap in the frontline, allowing the second row of cows to see me. They instantly perked up. A cow far off on the left started mooing, causing a wave of moos to pass over the herd. Apparently this was the call to head over to another part of the field. On our way out Brent rolled down the window and slowed down so I could get one last look at the cows.

We were off on a tour of the Cotswalds and the English countryside. Our first stop was Bibury. There were some cute little cottage houses going up a hill near a creek full of baby ducks and some swans. The place was full of tourists, a bus having just arrived. A man tried to take a picture of his (I assume) wife on the bridge over the creek, however a child from the family who had just crossed the bridge stayed behind to ham it up for the camera. The lady leaned in and posed for a photo with this stranger child, cheek to cheek with him. It was too weird and awkward, I had to look away.

We parked on a side street in Burford behind another car, there were enough other cars parked that there that sure it was street parking there. We were down the road from the Lamb Inn. We decided to start with lunch and then walk down the main strip. As was quickly becoming the usual, I had a half pint of cider. Symonds cider was bubbly and slightly sour, not at all like apple juice (therefore good). We were about ready to order when we realized that there was a backside to the menu! We ended up getting a charcuterie board each because on the menu there was the option of serving size for one. We would get to try two different ones. Mine was piled high with meat, Brent’s had some cheeses and a pork pie. The brie was surprisingly good. I had never seen a charcuterie board piled so high with food. On the side were two really thick slices of white bread, making for some colossal sandwiches. This was the first (and probably last) time I was too full to finish a charcuterie board.  “Downtown” Burford had some little cottages and some antique shops. One shop had the most gorgeous leather riding boots I had ever seen.

On the way to Cheltenham (stop #3) we passed a sign warning us of a toad crossing, so weird. Cheltenham was a more developed town, we walked down the main shopping arcade. I popped into H&M, continuing my desperate search for the shirt and coming up empty handed. The weather was awesome, it was warm and the sun was shining. Adding to the awesomeness, the mini Toffee Crisps I had stashed in the car were hitting the spot.

Our second last stop of the tour was in Bourton-On-The-Water. This was the picturesque ideal little village. It had a creek running through the middle of town, with union jack banners strung over top between the trees. I could just imagine a Sunday afternoon rubber duck race on the creek. I was tempted to get ice cream but none of the flavours stood out to me.

Our last stop was in Stow on the Wold but it had been added to the tour later on and we did not have a proper map or address for navigation. Trying to get there, it did not seem like it was 700m away as the GPS insisted. No sooner had I said that, we saw the town sign. We followed a sign for parking but it had lied. We kept going down the one road with no sign of parking, getting further and further from town. Going back the way we came was out of the question, as the whole time we were passing a traffic jam of cars. We turned onto a side street and made our way back in a circle around the traffic, taking a detour and going back to where we had seen the town sign. This time around we drove straight through the intersection and through town. Thankfully there was another parking lot downtown. It was a nice walk, there were beautiful old buildings. We stopped in at a grocery store so I could get my Fanta fix. At the last second I grabbed a Cadbury Crème Egg because apparently in the UK the recipe had recently been changed. It did indeed taste different, much less sweet than usual. It was finally possible to eat it without the horrible too-sweet tooth pain.

We were staying at the Snowshill Bed & Breakfast but it did not have an address. The Google maps directions only gave left & right directions and only one street name. We opened up Google maps on Brent’s work phone as a backup. We eventually found it via road signs. As we pulled into the parking lot I saw two chickens but they immediately ran away as I tried to take their picture. As chickens would, based on the reputation I suppose.

The little B&B was in the heart of the Cotswalds. There was no one at the B&B, we found Brent’s name in a note with the key on the floor in the entrance. There was no in-house restaurant and we had not passed anything on the way in, nothing but farm fields and forests. I was about to start panicking that there was no coffee maker, but I found it in a cupboard. The nearest McDonald’s was a 20 minute drive away and it seemed like our best option for dinner. The nearest grocery store, Tesco was 13 minutes away. The only food we had left was half a pack of Speculoos cookies. We were lucky to at least have wifi, even if it was slow. We immediately headed back out for food and snacks to last us the next two nights at the B&B. We were worried about having to navigate back in the dark.

On the way we passed by Broadway Tower which we would be visiting the next morning. That Tower turned out to be a great navigation tool while we were in the area. On the way to Tesco we saw an Aldi grocery store and went there instead. It was so unbelievably cheap! We got two bags of chips, chocolate covered toffee popcorn and some more Jellie Babies. The McDonalds was in an industrial park like a strip mall. It was incredible how busy it was. The place was packed. Who knew that McDonalds was the place to be on a Friday night? We had to park across the street because the lot was full. I swapped out the drink in the chicken nugget meal for a frozen soda, a genius plan.

Back in the hotel the internet was still really slow. I was legitimately surprised that Netflix had loaded and we actually managed to watch an episode of TV. The Älska Nordic berry cider I had tasted like juice. But then again Aldi had limited selection, so who am I to complain? Once again we were in a hotel room with a heated towel rack. Because we were staying there for two nights I saw the perfect opportunity to do some sink-laundry, with the perfect place to hang it to dry. It was a genius idea. One of two that day. I was mildly afraid that my laundry on the towel rack would cause a fire, so I kept the door open to monitor it as I read my book. Apparently we had grabbed a different brand of Jellie Babies and different companies can all claim to produce Jellie Babies candy. The Dominion brand we had now were not nearly as good as the ones we were used to, the centre was not as chewy. I couldn’t find the toffee popcorn and I was worried it had fallen out of the bag and was in the car but I was too tired to go check. The mojito flavoured kettle cooked chips were weird… but exactly what was to be expected.

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