Welcome to The Cotswolds!

I love the English Cotswolds and think everyone should visit this beautiful place at least once in their lifetime. Having lived all over the world and traveled as much as possible, I still think that this little part of England is one of the world's greatest treasures. This site is dedicated to helping spread the word and encourage sustainable travel to the Cotswolds.

If you enjoy reading this blog, please help spread the word by sharing with your friends!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Christmas Carols, Morris Men, a Cotswold Pub... What could be finer?

If you're ready to get in the Christmas spirit and would like a very traditional, fun and unique experience, there's a little event this December you might want to consider.

On Tuesday, December 15, from 7:45pm, there will be carols and seasonal songs performed by the Gloucestershire Morris Men at The Carpenter's Arms in Miserden.

Morris in The Cotswolds
Morris dancing has been traced all over the English Midlands and further North, but it is particularly associated with the Cotswold area, where the most evolved form of Morris was, and still is, to be found. Here it is performed generally by six men and a musician, accompanied in most cases by a fool and sometimes a beast. The men wear a colourful costume or "kit" often based upon white, the old sacred colour.

They also wear bells, wave hankies or sticks, some say to ward off evil spirits. It was invariably a men's dance with very strong ties to the Whitsun time of year with fertility and encouraging crops to growth very much in mind.

In the past, most Cotswold villages had their own individual dances and tunes, but by the end of Industrial Revolution the tradition had almost died out, as the Victorians had introduced many other pastimes and sports. Fortunately, there was a great revival of interest in Morris Dancing in the early years of this century, led by Cecil Sharp who was the person mainly responsible for collecting and noting the dances we perform today.

The Carperner's Arms
The following is an extract from a very recent review by Food & DrinkVenture deep into the Gloucestershire countryside and you’ll hopefully stumble across the idyllic Cotswold village of Miserden. Hidden in this leafy haven lies the rustic charm of the Carpenters A rms. A warm friendly welcome on arrival, coupled with a lively atmosphere makes this the perfect retreat whether you’re sheltering from the winter cold, or looking for refreshment during the searing summer heat.

Our visit coincided with colder climes so the sight of a roaring open fire was instantly met with approval. The eye is drawn from the flickering flames to the traditional oak beams that stretch across the lounge and dining area, beneath which, sit three conveniently placed blackboards. The blackboards, as you’d expect, are brimming with home-baked delights of the traditional village pub variety.

A varied and mouth watering array of starters, including breaded prawns and creamy garlic mushrooms, provide a p e rfect bed for the wholesome mains that are to follow. You will not be disappointed; home-made steak and Guiness pie, Gloucester sausage and mash, and home-baked ham are just a few of the traditional favourites that are offered here and should grace any country menu. Finally, if you’ve room, make sure you sample one of the scrumptious home-made puddings. The Carpenters Arms delivers everything you’d expect from a country pub and more.

Location: Miserden, Stroud, GL6 7JA
Phone: 0845 200 9275
Open: Mon-Thurs 11.30am- 3pm, 6.30pm-11pm; Fri & Sat 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-midnight; Sun noon-4pm, 7pm- 10.30pm

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Cotswolds by Air

Rambling and cycling are some great ways to see The Cotswolds.  But the idea of floating over them and taking in so much natural beauty at once is something I've always wanted to do.

Ballooning in the Cotgswolds has been popular for a while, and there are even a few events for enthusiasts, like the Ballooning Grand Prix at Sudeley Castle.  One of the more popular companies, Ballooning in the Cotswolds, offers a truly memorable experience- a Champagne flight over the rolling countryside.  Flights last about an hour and can reach heights of 3,000 feet.  That's more than twice the height of the Empire State Building.  Flights are about £135 per person, which is pretty reasonable given the experience.

Of course, this isn't a winter activity- they operate from April to October.  But if you're planning a trip to the area for next spring or summer, this should be on the list.  If you're interested, their website is http://www.ballooninginthecotswolds.co.uk/.

Happy Ballooning!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Spring in The Cotwolds

A very nice video of Springtime in The Cotswolds

I just found this video online and had to share it. It really does a nice job of capturing the simple, quiet beauty of the area.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Best Free Range & Organic Food in The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are home to some of Britain's best and most natural foods. Hundreds of square miles of pristine farmland and an extremely high standard for quality produce makes the area a food lovers dream.

If you live in the area or are planning a visit, it's well worth knowing where all the best farmer's markets, foodie shops, food and drink festivals, pubs, and all the rest are. Our friends over at FreeRangeReview.com have been busy building a wonderful online food community for England, and it's a great resource for Cotswold food.

All the businesses listed are rated and reviewed by the community, so you have a good idea of where the very best are. And you can contact all the businesses directly with any inquiries. We've used them for ages now, and the recommendations have always been spot on (one of our favourites, Martin's Meats, an outstanding organic butchery, is pictured here).

To go to the interactive Foodie Map of The Cotswolds, visit FreeRangeReview by clicking here and entering the postcode of your house or the hotel where you are staying. If you're not sure where you'll be, use 'GL52'- this is Cheltenham and will show most places in the area.

We hope you have as good a luck as we have, and happy eating!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Win a night at the beautiful Dial House Hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water

If you fancy a quick weekend break in The Cotswolds and would rather not have to pay for the hotel, here's a great chance to win a night at one of the area's finest inns. And, if you can't wait for your name to come up in the monthly prize drawings, book through LateRooms.com, our partner, where they always offer the lowest prices online with no hidden fees.

About The Dial House Hotel
Privately owned and run by Elaine and Martyn, The Dial House Hotel demonstrates the best blend of old and modern to bring you the ultimate country hotel experience.

The Hotel is situated in idyllic surroundings and is built from the famous mellow Cotswold Stone. The Dial House dates back to 1698 and is the oldest building still standing in the village - it even pre-dates the bridges over the River Windrush.

Aside from the obvious beauty of the main building, the interior has been refurbished to a very high standard. The dining rooms are elegantly decorated providing the perfect backdrop for truly fabulous food which was recently awarded 2 rosettes.

In the sitting room guests love to relax by the fire in the chillier months but in the summer find themselves nodding off in the peaceful walled garden.

Whilst we welcome children for lunch and dinner by prior request, the hotel does not accept children under 12 as residents.

Win an overnight stay for 2

Just head to their newsletter sign up page, fill in the details and send it in - you may just win a free weekend for 2.

At the end of each month a name will be picked by random to receive a free night at the Dial House Hotel. So what are you waiting for?

To sign up for their Newsletter and be in with a chance, click here.

Rather just make a booking?

The the very best rates by booking through our partner, LateRooms.com. You can book The Dial House directly by clicking here.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Cheltenham Fireworks by Steam Train!

This Saturday night, if you're going to the Cheltenham Fireworks, enjoy a relaxing ride on the GWR Steam Train to and from the event... and skip all the traffic!

As firework displays go, it's pretty hard to beat the annual Round Table Fireworks Spectacular at Cheltenham Racecourse, which this year is on Saturday evening, 7th November 2009. This is without a shadow of doubt one of the best displays in the South West and attracts some 15,000 people. And of course, all those people come by car which is fine as they don't arrive all at once - but once the display is over everyone rushes for their car and you can sit waiting to get out for half an hour or more.

Now here is a brilliant way to spend that half-hour and it's a sure way to beat the exit traffic jams.

The romance of a steam train journey through the night. That in itself is a rare treat and looking out of the window you can often see the glow of the locomotive's fire on the white steam coming from the chimney, as the fireman throws a few more well-placed shovelfuls of coal into the firebox. This is the stuff of imagination; of romantic old movies; of far-away destinations with a powerful locomotive forging through the Autumnal darkness, unending miles passing beneath the clickety-click of the wheels…

Well, ten miles at any rate. Park for free at Toddington station in time to catch the Fireworks Express which departs promptly at 18.00 for Cheltenham Racecourse. You can enjoy refreshments from the buffet on the way and the display is less than five minutes' walk from the Racecourse station. The train will return about 20 minutes after the show has ended.

No need to book - just turn up and buy your tickets at Toddington booking office. Normal fares apply and remember, if you've travelled on the GWR during the day, your tickets will still be valid during the evening!

At the Racecourse, there will be a musical roadshow leading up to the display by Star FM, a comprehensive fairground while the fireworks, which start at 7.00pm, will be co-ordinated to themed music and led by DJ Joe Lemer.

The entry price, which is in addition to the train fare, is £5 for adults and £3 for children (age 5-14 years).

Contact Details:
The Railway Station
GL54 5DT
Tel: +44 01242 621405