As all good things must, the Cotswolds staycation has come to an end. But not before witnessing more beauty and experiencing a fine pub. A three-kilometre uphill walk, in the shade of elderly trees, through bucolic landscape, brought us to The Black Horse pub, Amberley, with panoramic views over Minchinhampton Common. The dogs were naturally served first (it’s very dog-friendly in this area), with a large bowl of water and biscuits. After a couple of hours in the pub garden, with good food and cold drinks, it was time to walk back to the cottage. The return had a detour through the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church. Such serenity there, perhaps shown best in the memorial to Albert George, who died on Empire Day, 1924. His two daughters, modelled as he last saw them, sit with their arms around each other looking down:
With love and in unfailing gratitude for his devotion –
The tribute of his wife and daughters – ‘Daddy’s Blessed Angels’
In the evening, dinner out, before walking back to the cottage to enjoy the night view with some chilled wine one last time. This staycation has been a joy. It may be over, but the memories gladden the heart.
It seems not all good things must come to an end. Some good things end to make way for others and some are eternal.
After the morning walk, and a fish lunch at the pub, it’s time for the cottage canines to head for the shade – away from the afternoon heat. How familiar these positions, how easily they’ve made themselves at home…
Yesterday, I left the staycation village to pay my respects. I travelled 35 miles to Dumbleton, a smaller village of around 600 inhabitants which predates the Domesday Book. More specifically, I went to visit St Peter’s churchyard and the graves of Joan and Patrick Leigh Fermor – buried side-by-side. Their companionship, post-mortem, I find comforting. The best part (for me) of the fabric of St Peter’s Church, was the north door, its design incorporating a startled-looking, disgorging Green Man. I just like it – it’s quirky. Inside, I was struck by the chapter from Exodus on the wall in the nave, and the brightly-painted 17th-century monument to Sir Charles Percy and his wife Dorothy Cocks by the altar.
As I left, I admired Joan and Patrick being taken back into this timeless landscape, absorbed by its constancy, and was gently reminded I’m only passing through.
Yes, I have been outside. Not only the house, but also the grounds. Really. Always with the dogs. Of course. On one of yesterday’s village walks, we visited the pub for a family Sunday lunch. I say ‘the’ pub, but there are several in the village. I like it here. I could easily stay longer than a week and not venture further than the village. I feel at home.
This is what I see when I step outside the cottage and, well, the title should be plural – greens – shouldn’t it? All those shades of green telling me why I love this land of England. It’s just that ‘greens’ puts me in mind of cabbage, so this title stays singular. So, it’s day two of this Cotswolds staycation and I’m liking waking to the smell of fig tree, lavender and wild garlic. However, I would like to know why, despite the treeness of this landscape, the dawn chorus is far more muted than it is at home, where the sparrows and their mates kick off around about 03:30 this time of year. Is it that urban birds are mouthier?
The Cotswolds staycation day one. This is the view from the bedroom window in the converted stable building which is ‘home’ for the next week. On the way here, I was reminded just how beautiful the Cotswolds are. Why I have stayed away so long is a mystery to me.