We had a list of villages that we thought looked interesting so set off the southern most lot. Bourton on Water was said to be one of the prettiest. All the street parking was taken so we found a metered parking area, which by the time we left was also packed including 6-8 tourist buses.
Yve took to the shops and Mike and I began a tour of the town including some winding side streets. I only saw a few people, some on horses. There were stables and larger houses or complexes of houses, on the outskirts. There seemed to be older people, perhaps retirees? looking like they lived here, walking between houses. Got a smile and a friendly hello from all. Caught up with Mike who by then was also doing an independent walk. So we teamed up
Had a cuppa in a teeny tearoom (could have had a choice of a dozen.) The till was in the inner most corner of the room, diagonally opposite the door, but not always manned as the person who took the money was also the waitress popping in and out of the kitchen. Very trusting. When I paid she put a light to my note. When I queried this she said there were lots of counterfeit notes around. The light showed up some green numbers. She said the counterfeits were very good. As we have no idea even what pictures should be on what notes, I hope none come our way.
As the blurbs I had read before departing Perth talked of walking between villages we then went to the tourist bureau and got some maps. However Yve by then had done with the shopping and as her knee was hurting didn’t want to walk, so we set off by car for upper and lower slaughter. (Whose name did not derive from anything to do with slaughtering!)
A wrong turn brought us to other villages some on our list some not. For all of these the main road ran on the outside of the village so a deliberate turn had to be made to get to the centre. One of the list ones, because of an event going on, was so packed even the external road was lined with parked cars, so we gave that a miss. Eventually we wound back to the Slaughters. They too had external roads, in one case going right round the outside, with no indication of what might be in the centre. From the outside it was the same yellow cottages with slate roofs. Not much garden space, in many cases none. SO the vote was to continue on.
For the second time that day we passed gypsies camped along the roadside. Most with modern vans, but some with the one I think of as ‘gypsy’ with the rounded tops. They had signs out “fortunes told”; "Tarot readings”.
Yve mentioned Cirencester as one she'd read about, and as we’d seen that sign post that was our next stop. This was very obviously a town, and quite a large one at that. All the major retailers around and near our parking area. Mike and I walked again while Yve had a coffee.
My initial reaction after the drive in and then from the car park was “this is just an everyday town; same shops and chain stores. I would rather have explored the villages”, but it turned out I was wong. It was certainlt a large town but had a very old town centre, the ‘capital of the Cotswolds’ which would have meant the capital of the wool trade of the area. This was reflected in names such as the ‘wool market shipping precinct, entered through big double iron gates. We didn’t go in there but continued down the winding main street. There was a variation of building styles; the oldest seemed to be some very well preserved Tudor buildings. The church (big enough to be a cathedral) was having a spring clean. AN external square turret which joined the church but didn’t quite seem part of it was very, very yellow, almost like a sand castle at the beach...but more yellow. WE entered to get a closer look and met two locals inside and began chatting. My query as to whether it was being sand blasted was met with a horrified look. It was all done painstakingly by hand as it was over 500 years old. The scrapings that came off were washed and then reused to patch any badly worn parts. This section, now the ‘porch’ was not originally part of the church. It was built with the floors above as a business centre for the large Augustinian Abbey which was nearby. It wasn’t consecrated so any skulduggery in the business area was not being committed on consecrated ground!! After the Reformation it became the Town Hall. It couldn’t have fitted too many people in!
There was a bit of other skulduggery attached to the church, but apparently this sort was acceptable. Two ‘rebellious’ nobles, interpreted I think as having refused to give up Catholicism, were arrested and executed by the townspeople. Their money was then used to build the church’s tower.
There was to be a 90 minute walk around the old town, which Mike and I decided would have been very interesting, but as it was still 30 minutes away we also agreed that leaving Yve in a coffee shop for another 2 hours wasn’t fair.
So off to the next stop