The UK Beercation 2019: Day 4 The Cotswolds
Here I’ll continue an epic series of blogposts about our trip to the British Isles this summer. Much like last year’s trip to Germany and the Czech Republic, this was a self-organized tour with our friends Jim and Lori Stroner, as well as my wife Sarajo (Sj) and myself. I’ll be posting a day-by-day travelogue of the trip as I organize and go through my multitude of pictures. While the posts won’t be fully about beer–there will be a focus on good pubs, real ale, distilleries, and food! So here goes: enjoy!
As usual on this trip we started out the day with a hearty English breakfast at our current home-away-from-home: this time the King’s Arms in Stow-on-the-Wold. Once properly stuffed full of black pudding, sausage, eggs, and deep fried toast, we were ready to face another day! The Cotswolds are a collection of cute vacation villages so today was to be another whistle-stop tour of these places.
Our first stop this day was the village of Stanton. This is another of those adorable English villages that Jim had put on our itinerary for photo-ops. We happened to hit this at just the right day–they were doing an Open Garden day for Father’s Day. People would be opening up their personal home gardens to tourists, so all the cars were moved out from in front of the quaint cottages, and every lawn was freshly mown and perfect. We were there a bit too early to take advantage of the garden tour, but benefitted in getting more perfect pictures of the town. Some of the homes had honest-to-God thatched roofs. Flowers burst from every lawn, climbed every wall, and blasted the eye with scintillant colors. Several people on horseback would occasionally trot down the lanes as well, taking us back in time a bit.
Our next stop was Snowshill Manor. This is an old Manor house that was bought and renovated by the rich and eccentric Charles Wade in 1919 purely to display his extensive collection of…stuff. This is like the House On the Rock in Wisconsin–but not quite as crazy and mind-boggling. Whole rooms are filled with bicycles. Others with weapons and armor. Others with musical instruments. A fun visit for sure, but this is no museum. The grounds are amazing with a beautiful fairy garden that took Jim and I nearly an hour to photograph. As the rain started up again (there is always rain) our ticket time came up for inside the manor, and had stopped again by the time we finished the inside portion of the tour. Timing never works this well!
We had not planned very well for food on this day. With it being a Sunday and Father’s Day–pretty much every restaurant and pub was already booked. Apparently Sunday is usually a big day for Sunday Roasts as well–where they have large heavy roast dishes served family style (whole chickens, large slabs of ham, beef roast, etc.) Oops. We ended up back at our hotel in hangry desperation–but they were able to find us a table and got our roast on!
Now gorged on our second large meal of the day, we wandered around our city a bit and checked out some of the local antique shops. Jim and I were in search of beer signs and such–but were pretty skunked. We did find the set of doors that people think were the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s doorway to the mines of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter.
We took a quick drive down narrow country lanes to visit the Donnington Brewery (whose beers we had tried on tap the previous night at The Fox). When we arrived, we realized that they were closed, but one of the family members was still on the property with her inquisitive dog and she allowed us to take some pictures of the place prior to her heading back home. The place was a 13th century water mill on the bank of an idyllic pond, turned into a brewery in the 1800’s. The water wheel still provides power to the pumps and machinery of the current brewery which is amazing. The best part of the place was the old honor box filled with bottles of beer and brewery swag–just leave money for what you want to take. This trusting nature was quite endearing and we had to buy a couple bottles to take home with us!
On our way home we stopped at both Upper and Lower Slaughter. For such manly and imposing names, the places were very pretty and relaxing. We spent more time in ancient graveyards and amongst more quaint cottages. We also discovered a cute pub named “The Slaughters” and had to stop in for a pint of Hobgoblin Ale.
We had made plans (thank goodness) for dinner at the Horse & Groom, an old style country pub in Burton-on-the-Hill. Here we had the fantastic concoction of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in black pudding, breaded, then deep fried. So good! The food here was excellent and we had a great relaxing dinner.
Once back to Stow-on-the-Wold we finished up the night back at The Porch House where all the beer had been drunk up since the night before. I guess the Father’s Day crowd are a heavy drinking lot! All that was left was Aspall Cider and Peroni.
Adorable English Villages: 9
Ruined Abbey/Churches: 3
Neolithic Stone Circles: 2
Unesco World Heritage Sites: 2
Bizarro manors of excentric millionaires: 1