Whoever describes the Cotswolds as ‘twee’ or ‘chocolate box pretty’ is doing this wonderful place a huge disservice. I spent two days there this week, and it is a deeply powerful and rugged part of Britain. Beautiful, yes. Atavistic certainly. Though it is so much more than that. The very stones of the place glow with a resonance of honey-coloured history. Like a grid-marked canvas ready to be painted, leaded windows enhance a devotion to heritage and husbandry of the land. In every pane. I stayed in an ancient house that was just wonderful. Beams, open fires and low ceilings, with window seats and creaking floorboards aplenty. To listen to the house and its movements was a joy, and it was a privilege to stay there. On arrival, wide-eyed with wonder, I sat in the lounge and fire-watched, and even the smoke felt more potent. Rich. As a friend of mine says when moved by British heritage, it was like ‘shaking hands with the dead’. I felt the past tangibly. I desperately want to go back.
Local people clearly look after the Cotswolds (at least in Stanton, anyway). Although my travels were limited to the North, I would hazard a guess that the whole of the Cotswolds follow suit. The houses are strong and well-built. Hedges and paths are maintained. Trees allowed to flourish in their own way, unhindered by pollarding or tree surgery. Even when writing this, I am frustrated. Deeply. I could never, ever do justice to this place with my words. My whole vocabulary is just a dribble when it come to rendering such a place. Despite my inadequacy, I am very grateful to have experienced the wonder of this corner of heaven.
© Tom Tide 2016