Christmas in the Cotswolds
I am sorry New Zealand, but a cold Christmas is where it’s at. Our festive week in the Cotswolds with toasty, fire-warmed feet and a mug of spicy mulled wine in hand have officially confirmed this. Plus Christmas dinner - with all the trimmings - is far more enjoyable when your sins can be concealed with woolly sweaters rather than being paraded around in tiny two-piece bikinis.
With family over from the warmer pastures of the aforementioned Kiwi-land, Sam and I set about curating the most British-y Christmas we could. Enter: the Cotswolds. Our time was filled with pub visits, inching through narrow roman roads and ambling through the picturesque towns built from ancient Cotswolds stone. There were pot pies, mince pies and puddings galore. Late starts and long lunches, with crunchy frosts only giving way to the ephemeral sunlight by mid-afternoon. The only thing missing was snow.
We rented a generous converted barn on a working farm in the tiny hamlet of Crimscote, which sits just northeast of the Cotswolds. With four high-ceilinged bedrooms, a roaring living room fireplace and the luxury of underfloor heating, it was the perfect base for us to venture out from.
We ate fabulously. Having asked for recommendations, and heeding Jo Rodgers' (her article for Vogue here, her Instagram here) tips for the area, we bundled up and headed out on a daily basis for the promise of crispy pork belly and bread-and-butter pudding. The Kingham Plough was unanimously our favourite. Decked out beautifully for Christmas, we each shared corners of our meals not wanting to miss out on any of the flavours coming through from the busy kitchen. The Pork Wellington was juicy and tender - much to the delight of my Emirates-based brother-in-law who laps up all the porcine foodstuffs he can when he’s in town.
The much-celebrated Wheatsheaf Inn was well worth the country drive. Our table ordered no fewer than four of the day’s roast with all the trimmings, chased by warm french apple tarts. Locals (& their dogs) curl up into every corner of this popular pub, and I definitely advise booking to secure your spot. It was warm, friendly and cosy, and the stockpile of board-games in the lounge had us considering staying for the afternoon.
We stumbled upon the Porch House on a tiki-tour to Stow-on-the-Wold. We were lucky to score a table for five at the back of the dining room (it was an early lunch sitting, a baby who wakes at six in the morning will do that to you). The Chicken Supreme winked at me from the menu (what a genius name!) and was so juicy and delicious that I considered ordering a second…
If you do find yourself pottering about in the Cotswolds, there are several other un-missable spots. The towns of Upper and Lower Slaughter are chocolate-box pretty, and Chipping Camden had us fantasizing about swapping our city life for the countryside. The Daylesford Farm mecca, around the corner from Kingham, is an absolute must. It is a world devoted to the well-honed aesthetic of rustic chic, and is a shrine to all things beautiful and delicious. It has everything from farm-raised groceries to locally grown flowers, cashmere sweaters, wooden toys and skincare laced with primrose. There is even a cottage devoted to pampered pooches. My well-shopped, well-styled mother-in-law declared it as one of the best retail experiences she’d ever had. The word ‘mind-boggling’ was used endlessly. I completely agree.
There is so much of the area that we still need to see and Sam and I have vowed to return in the summer months with George strapped on our backs to walk some of the trails which ribbon through the area. If you have been, please let me know in the comments below what we have missed as we will definitely be back soon!
With love, Kate.