If someone was to ask for some excellent advice at the moment, I would suggest not having high tea at Buckland Manor and “Don’t dive off the little bridges of Bourton on the Water because the ‘water’ is about six inches deep and nine parts wee.“
I’d also say “Don’t try and reach Belas Knap by using the postcode.”
If you use the postcode published everywhere, you will wind up down a rapidly narrowing road, at least five miles away from Belas Knap with no way to get there but by reversing.
And, yes, I realise that’s why Nicktor carries an A-Z in the car and why he doesn’t rely on technology. Which clearly demonstrates he doesn’t need to tell me that because I’ve learned my lesson. Possibly.
The plan today had been quite simple. We’d start soft and slow, Mirinda would go for a walk then we’d go and check out the Neolithic long barrow before indulging in a high tea at Buckland Manor.
The slow start and long walk were both hugely successful though we didn’t see Al this morning and were forced inside the cafe because of the cycle crowd. There’s always a crowd of cyclists at the cafe. Never the same cyclists, you understand, but all in lycra and all taking up space.
Blockley is up a very steep hill and is surrounded by even steeper ones. I guess that makes it an ideal stopping spot for recovery. Actually, the walk up to Belas Knap is also very steep. First there’s a woodland furrow rising up almost vertically followed by a big grassy field.
The big grassy field has been crossed diagonally so many times that a wide path has been worn through it. This path is in direct contravention of a small sign at the bottom telling people to walk around the edge of the field rather than through the middle.
I admit I started walking up the diagonal but my excuse was that someone was unhelpfully leaning against the small sign and I didn’t see it until I returned. A friendly local told us we shouldn’t before we saw the sign but after we’d already walked halfway up. And, to be fair, he was also walking up the diagonal path.
In the end, we only managed halfway up before turning around and heading back to Max. The added trip to the location of the postcode had depleted our visit time and we had a high tea appointment to keep. Not even a glimpse of Belas Knap was to be had today.
Buckland Manor is a rather expensive looking secluded country club type place at one end of the tiny group of buildings called Buckland. There’s a church next door. Literally. Apparently there’s some stained glass in the church which came from Hailes Abbey. William Morris paid for it to be releaded and put in the church.
We didn’t visit the church. In fact we were lucky to actually have our booked high tea.
Following the government announcement about mask use on Saturday, places like Buckland Manor have become a bit Draconian in their approach.
The receptionist who greeted us at the front door and shot us in the head with a heat detecting laser, told us we would have to wear a mask in the inside common areas. This was as a chap left the toilet and walked into the lounge without a mask. Mirinda was not best pleased and I was prepared to leave.
We didn’t leave and, after an initial wrestle for an outside terrace table, we settled down for a rather huge high tea. At least I thought it was huge. Mirinda assured me that the one she had with Bob and Fi last year was three times the size.
It was all delicious and the tea especially so. We managed to spend a goodly amount of time exciting our usually carb free taste buds with sugary delights.
We have booked in for dinner at Buckland Manor on our last night but given the mask rules, we will probably now cancel. It’s a bit sad because it’s the kind of place we normally love visiting. Maybe one day, when things return to some sort of normal, we’ll return. I somehow doubt it.
Anyway, social conditions aside, the tea was lovely and we left full of sweet things.
Mirinda didn’t really want to just go back to the cottage, particularly after the failed attempt to visit Belas Knap, so we drove to Bourton on Water. We figured it was quite late in the day and the tourists would all have gone home. Boy, were we wrong.
The water which Bourton is on, is a small, narrow and very shallow stream which rushes along beside the road yet set far enough away to be a favourite playground for kids of all types. Families dotted the banks on blankets or benches or just grass, distributing food and drink as the little ones splashed about. Oft-times the adults did their own bit of splashing about as well.
Along the path, every now and then, small concrete bridges spanned the stream. Only one was for cars, the rest for pedestrian travel between banks. Though quite a few people were happy to use the water.
Described by some people as the Venice of the Cotswolds, probably by someone who has never been to the Venice of Italy, Bourton on the Water is an extremely popular spot on a sunny Sunday in August. While crowded, it was very pleasant watching children do what children should do while their parents grabbed some valuable social time with relatives and friends.
The fact that social distancing appeared not to have reached Bourton was also a delight worth relishing.
The only thing that I disliked about our visit to Bourton was the three motorcycles outside the Car Museum. Not for the first time I wondered why people (nearly always men) have to turn their bikes on and, rather than ride off, sit and deafen everyone. I guess it’s because they lack any sort of empathy.
Speaking of the Car Museum, we admired the new Green Mini on display, convincing us that we should probably trade Max in for the new environmentally friendly model.
Having completed a rough circumnavigation of the town, we headed back to the car. On the way a small child of about six gave me an odd, quizzical look as we walked by. Mirinda reckoned it was because he was trying to work out if I was Santa Claus on my summer holidays. True, it was that kind of look.
We regained Max and went on a driving tour of the Slaughters.
At one point we stopped the car and admired the quiet beauty of the Cotswold landscape. Having just come from the crowds of Bourton, the silence was almost as deafening as the motor bikes had been.