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!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Enchanted Woodland Christmas at Westonbrit

The Enchanted Christmas will return this year with a new children's winter wonderland, the magical illuminated trail route through the Old Arboretum and gifts and festive fare.

Westonbirt Enchanted Forest Christmas eventPre-book now!

Book in advance online or call 03000 680400 (booking fee applies). You can also buy tickets on site from the Forest Shop.
The Enchanted Christmas takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from 25 November - 18 December 2011.
5.00 - 8.30pm (last entry at 7.15pm). Adults £9, concessions £8, children £5.

Real reindeer at Westonbirt Enchanted Christmas credit Rob CousinsMeet Father Christmas and his real reindeer at the big switch-on, Friday 25 November at 4.45pm!

Meet Westonbirt Arboretum's special Father Christmas, his helpers and real reindeer at our launch event.
You have the chance to become one of Father Christmas' helpers by entering our Christmas poster competition - find out more here.

Taking the trail

Christmas trail. Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt.
The illuminated trail is approximately one mile long and follows the hard paths of the Old Arboretum. These paths are accessible for buggies, wheelchairs and electric scooters which can be booked in advance by calling 01666 881218.
Sorry, dogs (except assistance dogs) are not allowed on the trail because it is in the Old Arboretum, our dog free zone.

NEW Children's winter wonderland

The Education Centre will be transformed into a wintry delight with snow, icicles and festive decorations. Take part in Christmas crafts, find out about winter customs, learn about the history of Christmas trees.

CourtyardGreen Father Christmas. Enchanted Christmas Westonbirt Arboretum Gloucestershire

Here you can find all the caterers serving food ranging from BBQ, burgers and chips, mulled wine and mince pies. We will also have a children's carousel, a traditional sweet stall and hot roasted chestnuts. Every evening, you will find a choir singing, you will also be able to meet our special Father Christmas and our Christmas stilt walker. 

Friends' Friday admission offer

On Fridays, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum members will receive a 50% discount on the full ticket price. Children (under 19s) accompanying parent/ guardian members go free.

Westonbirt Enchanted Forest Christmas eventDiscounted entry for pre-booked groups

Special admission rates for groups of over 10 people apply. Visit ourgroup travel pages, call 01666 881200 or e-mailhelen.d.daniels@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Christmas tree sales

Real Christmas trees and wreaths are for sale from the opening night of the Enchanted Christmas event. Available from the Westonbirt Plant Centre(01666 880544).

Christmas gifts

Discover great gift ideas in the Christmas Market and Forest Shop. Both stay open until 8.30pm each evening.

Maples restaurant at WestonbirtEat, drink and be merry

Extend the festivities by booking a two-course Christmas Carvery at Maples Restaurant.
- £16.95 for adults and children aged 8 years and above
- £8.95 for children under 7 years
- under 3s eat free
Served between 5.30pm-7.30pm. Advance booking required, call 01666 880064.
Caterers will also be available in the Courtyard Café area, selling hog roast, BBQ plus hot and cold drinks.

NEW for 2011 - Christmas Carvery and trail ticket package

Pre-book our Maples Carvery festive package and receive a discount on your Enchanted Christmas illuminated trail ticket!
- Adult £23.95 (save £2)
- Concession £22.95 (save £1)
- Child 8-16 £20.95 (save £1)
- Child 5-7 £12.95 (save £1)
- Child 3-4 £8.95 (paying for meal only)
- Child 0-2 Free
Booking of the trail and meal package is only available via the Box Office on 03000 680400. This special package rate has limited availability and is not applicable with the half price Friends tickets on Fridays. See the terms and conditions for more details.

Christmas choirsWestonbirt Enchanted Christmas

Local choirs gather visitors in festive spirit, singing well known classics and modern Christmas carols.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

4th North Cotswold Beer Festival!

The is coming Friday and Saturday (23rd & 24th September 2011) promises to be a banner weekend.... provided you make it down to the North Cotswold Beer Festival, compliments of the good people at  North Cotswolds CAMRA.

The Festival takes place at the Moreton-in-Marsh Cricket Club.

At your service are over 50 Real Ales and Ciders.  Food, including breakfast, will be served, there will be live entertainment Friday night and Saturday, and camping is available.  The current list of ales and ciders planned for the festival is here.

Friday's performance will be by renowned folk rock artists The Roving Crows, and some of the band members will also play during the day on Saturday.  Saturday night will feature local Gloucestershire rock/pop cover band Zool.

The Festival runs 6pm - 11pm on Friday and Noon -  11pm on Saturday, and admission is £3 + £2 for your souvenir pint glass.  CAMRA members enter for free.

To gain free entry as a CAMRA member you must be in possession of a valid membership card.
On payment of the entry cost, a souvenir glass will be required for an additional £2. If you return your glass a refund of £1 will be given (The other £1 goes towards washing the glass etc before it can be re-used), You will also need to purchase Beer Tokens. (No cash sales at the bar). Any unused tokens can be exchanged back for cash, or donated to charity.

Car parking £1 per car (Free for staff pass holders).
Camping cost will be £4 per night, and £6 per caravan or Mobile Home (Free for helpers).
Showers will be available in the pavilion from 10 am to 11:30 am for men, 11:30 am till 2 pm for ladies.

There will be a Saturday late bus departing the Festival going to Cheltenham. Departing 8 pm & 10 pm.  To book your seat, contact Martyn Herbert.

Hope you can make it & Happy Drinking!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The 2011 Cotswold Festival

The Festival

This is the third Cotswold Festival since 2007, and this year it is bigger and better than ever before. 

The Theme for the 2011 Festival is "See Life in 17th Century Stow" which promises to provide lots of family fun & entertainment for all, as we celebrate Cotswold life, crafts and history. We hope as many people as possible will wear period costume, which is available to buy or hire. 

We hope to attract many local visitors and tourists to an exciting event providing family fun & entertainment for all. As well as the many special activities taking place during the Festival, we hope you will enjoy visiting our wonderful local shops. We expect that they will have many new visitors during the Festival, who will become regular customers having seen what excellent products and friendly service are on offer.
Proceeds from the Festival will support the following local charities:
  • Stow Youth Club
  • The Stow Branch of the Royal British Legion Welfare Fund
  • North Cotswolds Voluntary Help Centre

The Festival will take place over three days:
  • Antiques Day - Friday 16th
  • SAT 17 Sept 9.30 - 17.00
  • SUN 18 Sept 10.00 - 16.00
Please click on the links above to see details of the programme for each day.
Cotswold Festival Programmes will be available from the middle of August from Go-Stow, price £1.50. There will be a Lucky Programme number prize of £100 on both Saturday and Sunday, sponsored by Stow on the Wold Tescos.

English Civil War Re-enactment

The last battle of the first English Civil War took place near and in Stow in 1646. We are really excited about the Civil War Re-enactment which will take place on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the Cricket Ground.

Tickets for the Sealed Knot display are £5 for Adults (over 16), £2.50 children (5-16) and free for under 5s. A family ticket for £15 will admit two adults and up to 4 children aged 5-16. Tickets in the form of wrist bands can be bought from the Go-Stow Information Stall in Stow Square during the Festival weekend

Activities around Stow's Town Square

On both days, in The Square, there will be a street market, a Living History Exhibition and an an arena with live music from Stiff Upper LipShort and SweetThe Stow Baptist Church Group and the Cotswold School Band, the Silver Bough strolling players & Morris dancing

Treasure Hunt

A Treasure Hunt will take you on a stroll round the byways of Stow, where you can find many interesting shops and eateries. A draw for the winner of the Treasure Hunt will take place on both Saturday and Sunday. The winners will receive a family ticket to Cotswold Farm Park plus £25 spending money.

Crafts and Memorabilia

There will be demonstrations of traditional crafts in St. Edwards Church and in St. Edwards Hall, there will be an exhibition of Civil War memorabilia with expert knowledge provided by the Stow Civic Society.

Barn Dance

On Saturday evening there will be a Barn dance in The Square to the music of the Silver Bough band and caller.

For more details, visit their website at http://www.cotswoldfestival.com/index.php

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Easter at Sudeley Castle in The Cotswolds

Easter Egg Trail

On Sunday 24th April Sudeley Castle will be holding an Easter Egg Trail for children with an Easter treat at the end. I've always loved events at this castle. The grounds are beautiful, there is tons to explore, and it is never too busy, which is great if you can't bear huge crowds and also if you have three small kids that will run off in three directions at once and all get lost- they are easier to find if there are fewer people.

At last, their Adventure Playground is open again and completely refurbished. Sudeley has the coolest playground ever- a huge wooden 'castle' frame with towers and hidey-holes, giant slide, zip wire and stunning views of the Cotswold Hills from the surrounding picnic benches.

The Easter Egg Trail will run from 10:30am until 2:30pm (on a first come first served basis).  Visit them at 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Painswick Rococo Gardens

One of my favourite gardens in the Cotswolds is the Rococo Gardens in Painswick. It is a perfect day out.... beautiful gardens, extraordinarily good cafe, unique follies, great seasonal events and- of course- their famous snowdrops.

They have been very busy making some really nice videos over the past weeks that I thought were worth sharing. I hope they inspire you to stop by the next time you are in the area.

For full details on the gardens, please visit their new website at http://www.rococogarden.org.uk/Home.aspx

If you're looking for a very nice place to stay in Painswick, have a look at Byfield House. Top rated in Painswick by TripAdvisor and a locally run B&B.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

My Cotswolds Mushroom Sauce Recipe

Cotswolds Mushroom Sauce

2 big handfuls of crimini mushrooms (or baby bella), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of unsalted butter
1 large bay leaf
2 diced shallots
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cups chicken stock

185ml Crème Fraîche

Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Sugar


Make the stock.  In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter is melted over a medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and bay leaf and stir for about five minutes so the mushrooms release their juices.  Add the shallots and garlic and stir constantly so the shallots become soft and translucent but do not brown- about 4-5 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar and stir for one minute.  Add the stock and turn the heat to high. Add a small dash of sea salt and the sugar.  Boil, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, and reduce by about one third.    Add the crème fraîche and stir until the sauce becomes smooth.  Reduce the heat to low, stir until you have a slightly thick, but still runny sauce. Serve immediately with steak or chicken.

I hope you enjoy this, and please let me know how you get on!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Cotswold Inns and Hotels

Although there are many excellent hotels, inns and B&Bs in the Cotswolds, I thought this group owned by Pamela and Michael Horton should get some special attention.  Just last week, the owners of this special collection of seven properties won three Gold awards in the Cotswolds Tourism Awards, including 'Tourism Business of the Year.'  Then the Stroud couple's Bay Tree Hotel in Burford won gold in the Small Hotel category in the Beautiful South East Awards for Excellence and The Broadway Hotel won Gold in the Small Hotel of the year in the Heart of England Excellence in Tourism awards.

I really liked Mrs. Horton's quote after winning- 
"We look at our hotels as a box of jewels. They are all hundreds of years old and we are keeping them in the way we believe people want them, as traditional country house hotels."

These hotels have won enough awards (
The Lamb Inn at Burford is winner of the 2009 Condé Nast Johansens Most Excellent Inn Award.) to make them worth top consideration the next time your planning a trip to the area.

So, here they are in all their glory- note that you can click "Visit Now" to see the hotel on Google Street View and explore the area from your armchair.  If would like to make a reservation, the 'book online' buttons go straight to the hotel's own booking page.  

Hare and Hounds Hotel - Tetbury
Visit Now
Tel: 01666 881000, Email: enquiries@hareandhoundshotel.com
The Hare and Hounds Hotel has 42 bedrooms located in the main house and the adjoining buildings that comprise the hotel - the Coach House, the Garden Cottage, The Forge and Silkwood Court. set in acres of well-tended gardens and woodland, adjacent to the renowned Westonbirt Arboretum.  
Book Online

The Bay Tree Hotel - Burford
Visit Now
Tel: 01993 822 791, Email: info@baytreehotel.info
A magnificent Tudor building packed with original features. A charming place to stay with every modern facility and famed for its traditional country welcome. Burford is the gateway to the Cotswolds, ideally placed for Cheltenham, Oxford and Blenheim Palace.  
Book Online

Bear of Rodborough Hotel: The Bear of Rodborough - across the roadThe Bear of Rodborough - Stroud
Visit Now (sorry- only aerial views for this one)
Tel: 01453 878 522, Email: info@bearofrodborough.info
Delightful accommodation set in an area of outstanding natural beauty – 300 acres of National Trust land. The bedrooms are exquisite and the renowned restaurant is a centre of excellence for food and wine.  
Book Online

The Broadway Hotel - Broadway
Visit Now
Tel: 01386 852401, Email: info@broadwayhotel.info
This 16th century hotel provides the perfect blend of historic charm, modern amenities and friendly service. The hotel overlooks the village green and has a feeling of ageless tranquillity. Broadway is a stunningly attractive historic village ideally placed for Cheltenham and Warwick race courses.  
Book Online

The Lamb Inn - Burford
Visit Now
Tel: 01993 823 155, Email: info@lambinn-burford.co.uk
A traditional English country inn with flagstone floors, cosy armchairs, real ale, log fires and modern English cuisine. The Lamb Inn has seventeen bedrooms, each having individual character and decorated in warm traditional colours with fine, often antique, furniture for a true country feel.  
Book Online

The Manor House Hotel - Moreton-in-Marsh
Visit Now
Tel: 01608 650501, Email: info@manorhousehotel.info
This former 16th century manor house makes an enchanting Cotswold retreat where you can relax in a friendly atmosphere and indulge yourself with outstanding cuisine from our two-rosette restaurant. Moreton-in-Marsh is an ideal touring centre, within easy reach of Stratford, Cheltenham and Oxford.  
Book Online

The Swan Hotel - Bibury
Visit Now
Tel: 01285 740 695, Email: info@swanhotel.co.uk
The Swan Hotel is an enchanting 17th century former coaching inn sitting in the heart of the village on the banks of the River Coln. This hidden corner of England is the perfect retreat for unpretentious comfort, a friendly atmosphere, wonderful food and fine wine.  
Book Online

For full details on all these hotels, and to make reservations, please visit the group's website at 
http://www.cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk/content/index.htm.  Happy Travels!