Day Five and Draw and I were heading to the Cotswolds. We’d been to the Cotswolds four years ago and we (I) decided that it was high time we went back.
Now, the decision to visit the Cotswolds on our sidetrip this year was NOT a clear cut "Hey, let’s go back to the Cotswolds". It was more like "I think I’d like to visit the Peak District"… "No, let’s do the Lake District"… "But the Peak District looks so good"… "No, let’s do the Peak District *then* the Lake District"… "Forget it! Let’s just go to the Cotswolds".
This was me arguing with myself while Draw watched TV.
If I asked for an opinion he’d say "Whatever you want. baby" knowing full well that I only needed him to say the Peak District so I’d decide on the Lake District… or the Cotswolds… or Dartmoor. And then be upset with him because I really wanted to go somewhere else. Smart biscuit.
The Cotswolds was an absolutely capital idea and made for an excellent vacation within the vacation. Here’s a tip: the Cotswolds will never disappoint unless you’re wanting to see areas of England that aren’t quaint and old and utterly charming.
The reasons for our vacations within the vacation have kind of evolved into a little breather for the Mum and Dad so they can recover from the first four or five days of our visit. I am an energetic traveler and thought Peter and Sheila are bound and determined to stick with us every step of the way, there is a point where the mister quits saying "I’m not ready to have them leave yet".
These little sidetrips are strategically placed so that, just as Peter weakly says his last "I’m not ready to have them leave yet", we leave for a few days. By the time we get back he’s all rested up and happily chirping "I’m not ready to have them leave, yet!".
A quick sidestep here. In a previous post I shared that Peter is a loan shark. Peter’s disputed that, though since the post, he has decided that he quite likes the nickname "The Shark". He also thinks that it might be wise for me to refer to him by an alias in future posts so’s to protect his identity (though I imagine that might not be so good for business if nobody knows who he is). My mummy-in-law has suggested that we call Peter "Just William" after a children’s book character of a little boy who always had dirty knees.
So an alias it is and "Just William" it will be. From now on when I say "Just William" you all will know that I mean Peter. But if I say Peter don’t assume I mean "Just William" who was previously known as Peter. It only works the one way. I do caution "Just William", though, that all the funny things he says and does will now be attributed to "Just William" and not to himself whom most people know by the name of Peter.
Back to the journey.
We’re on the way to the Cotswolds which is about two and a half hours from Matfield by motorway. But my motto is: Stop and smell the flowers along the way. And spend twice as much on gas.
We avoid the motorways so that I can drink in the countryside and all the little towns and villages as we drive. With this in mind, Draw went to an English map website, plugged in where we were starting, where we were heading and where we planned to stop along the way. And 22 pages later we had our directions.
Okay, this is it and I’m only going to mention it once: whose bright idea was the roundabout?!
This is the bane of all mankind, especially Americans who believe in parallel and/or perpendicular roads. My thought is, if you want to make a turn then MAKE A TURN. Don’t run around in circles.
Other than "twenty-two pages". Of twists and turns… and circles.
I am the navigator. I keep us on track. What’s good about being the navigator is that I can yell "stop!" to snap a photo and Draw has to listen. And hence the need to stay off the motorways so that those quick snap stops don’t get somebody killed.
(This is Draw on one of our many "snap stops". Note the enthusiastic look on his face. He only has one look, really, and this is it. He looks like this when he’s enthusiastic, happy, charmed and amused. I’ve never seen him look annoyed but then, he may be covering it up with his "enthusiastic, happy, charmed and amused" look.)
I managed to get through the first ten or so pages of directions (about 15 actual miles in distance) and then chucked the directions to the wind and went to the map. In that first 15 miles we got sidetracked only twice (once going up and down the same road because we weren’t going quite far enough in the good direction to find out we were okay) with several U, Y and W turns (yes, this direction, no… wait… the other… blah… it’s the other… or is it). The Navigator was having a meltdown.
I have to take lessons on navigating from my mum-in-law, Sheila, who is the most graceful navigator I’ve ever encountered. She puts Vanna White to shame. All the while we’re driving somewhere she is chatting and laughing and then with just a graceful movement of the hand, either left or right, she has directed "Just William" in which way to turn. I’ve never once heard her say "Turn right you, numbnuts!". Unlike her daughter-in-law.
But in my defense, the road signs in England are not particularly dependable. They keep you guessing as to whether you’re still on your way to wherever it was you thought you were heading. You follow a sign that says "this way" and then… nothing.
First official stop (after the tiniest bit of the motorway to keep us on schedule) was a visit with old friends of Draw’s, in Aylesbury. A delightful couple, Dave and Mel, who have recently given birth to a delightful little girl named Louise. What was Draw thinking?! He did not snap one photo of the enchanting Miss Luli (the English do have a knack for whimsical nicknames). So I guess I’ll just have to share a few photos I took of some other stuff:
We spent a lovely al frescoe lunch with friends on a particularly lovely day and then left Aylesbury with a renewed vigor to find our way to Chipping Campden and Badger’s Hall Tea Room and B&B, using my trusty roadmap.
There is more to this day but ’tis time for tea. Please stay tuned for more fun and excitement as Draw and I continue our travels to, and around, the Cotswolds.