A beautiful blue haze

Cotswold Lavender

Cotswold Lavender is a lavender farm and because it is a farm, there are fields and fields of lavender giving a blue haze in the Summer sunshine and giving off a wonderful perfume as you brush past walking through the avenues of lavender – it is an amazing sight.

Guests often ask about Cotswold Lavender and we are left to give them the disappointing news they are out of season. So now is a good time to check your calendar and book in for when the lavender fields are open to visitors.

Cotswold Lavender usually opens about 10th June and they close about 6th August. These are “about” times so don’t take it too literally.

Cotswold Lavender

If you haven’t heard of Cotswold Lavender, what’s the attraction? It is a lavender farm which means they grow lavender as a commercial crop. At the right time, the lavender is harvested and is used to make a vast array of lavender products from the obvious dried lavender bags to pop into a drawer to make it smell nice, to soaps and cosmetics, and even culinary uses such as lavender sugar to bake cakes.

There are beds of different lavender varieties when you first go in showing the different sizes, leaf colour and flower colour, and then you enter the main lavender fields.

So when is the best time to visit?  Whilst it opens around 10th June, the lavender probably won’t be in full flower at that time, so I’d be inclined to leave it a little longer and suggest July would be the best time to visit. Towards the end of July, the lavender will start to be harvested so the more distant fields will lose their impact, but you get the opportunity to visit the distillery sheds when they are in action. The lavender has to be distilled the same day it is cut and the end product is lavender oil.

Once you’ve visit the lavender fields, have a browse in the shop and maybe a cup of tea in the café with a piece of lavender cake or a lavender scone!

For more information: www.cotswoldlavender.co.uk/ .

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast
Apple Tree House, Station Road, Broadway, Cotswolds WR12 7DE
Tel: 01386 853681
www.appletreebroadway.co.uk

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Venice of the Cotswolds

A trip out to Bourton-on-the-Water today. Bourton is about 7 miles from Broadway and is another pretty Cotswold village with the typical Cotswold honey-coloured stone buildings. The River Windrush runs down the main road which is where it gets its nickname of Venice of the Cotswolds.

Bourton-on-the-Water
Bourton-on-the-Water

One of the quirky things about Bourton is that every year they have a football game in the river! Lots of fun and the competitors get very wet, and some of the audience too.

Apart from the village itself, Bourton has quite a few attractions including:

  • Cotswold Motor Museum and toy shop
  • Model village – a one-ninth scale model of Bourton itself
  • Birdland Park and Garden
  • Maze – A half mile maze with 14 clues on the way. Answer them correctly to find the Golden Dragonfly in the centre of the maze.
  • The Cotswold Brewing Company – Brewery tours and sales
  • Cotswold Perfumery – Factory tours, courses and of course a shop.
Model Village, Bourton on the Water
Model Village, Bourton on the Water

I’ve been to model villages before but the Model Village in Bourton is excellent. The model is of Bourton itself so it would make a great starting point when you get to Bourton as you can see all of the village and decide which bits to go find. There are some interesting courtyards and hidden roads which are well worth exploring.

Back to the Model Village. The buildings are made of (or seems to be) the same honey-coloured stone, there are curtains in the windows and the churches have cut-outs so you can see what is going on inside; there was a church choir singing in one. The detail is amazing with the gardens kept to scale.

Snowy Owl, Birdland Park & Garden, Bourton on the Water
Snowy Owl, Birdland Park & Garden, Bourton on the Water

Totally different is Birdland – not surprisingly, it is a collection of birds. There are various types of (what I’d call) parrots, flamingoes, some beautiful owls, penguins and lots of other birds. There are events at various times of day such as Meet the Keeper, and Feeding the Penguins.

Bourton-on-the-Water makes an excellent trip with lots to see and do, and plenty of cafes for lunch – I’d recommend the Bakery by the Motor Museum.

 

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast, Station Road, Broadway, Cotswolds
Tel: 01386 853681
www.appletreebroadway.co.uk

 

Cotswold villages – Ebrington

Inspired by Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages, I thought I would start an occasional series about the less well-known villages local to Broadway.

Thatched cottages in the village of Ebrington, Cotswolds

Penelope Keith visited The Cotswolds in Series 3, Episode 1, and one of the villages she visited was Ebrington, so that is where I am going to start.

Ebrington is about 7 miles from Broadway, so a nice easy hop in the car. We found a spot to park on the main road and then went exploring. The quiet little village roads have cottages of traditional Cotswold honey-coloured stone and we were surprised how many thatched buildings there were.

Its interesting to look a little closer at the thatch. You get a bird or animal in thatch on the top sometimes but you can also see the different stages of the thatch if you look underneath. A thatched roof can last anywhere from 10 to 40 years depending on the material used but often after 10-15 years maintenance is required. Sometimes just the ridge (the top-most part) is refurbished or sometimes the top layer is replaced, so by looking underneath the eaves you can see the old and new thatch. If you see a thatcher at work, it is fascinating to see the craftsmanship in thatching a roof.

St Eadburgha Church, Ebrington, Cotswolds

Ebrington, together with most other villages, has a lovely church – there’s is called St Eadburgha which brings a link to Broadway as Broadway’s old church is called St Eadburgha as well.

This photo shows 2 panels with rather curious inscriptions from the Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians! Not sure I agree with the “Wife” version but they are certainly interesting.

The text reads:
“Wives submit yourselves unto your own Husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of ye church and he is the Saviour of the bodie. Therefore as ye Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

St Eadburgha's Church, Ebrington, Cotswolds

The Husband version reads:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved ye church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctifie and cleanse it with the washing of water; by the word: that he might present it to him self (a) glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that ye should be holie and without blemish.”

There are a number is interesting inscriptions and features in the church so take your time to have a look around, and hopefully you will have enough time to just sit for a little while and enjoy the peace and serenity in the church.

The Ebrington Arms, Ebrington, Cotswolds

Coming outside again, it is probably time for lunch, tea or maybe just a coffee. The Ebrington Arms must be calling …

Article written by Apple Tree Bed & Breakfast
Apple Tree B&B is approximately 7 miles from Ebrington and makes and excellent base to explore the Cotswolds. For enquiries and availability contact Mick and June at:
Tel: 01386 853681 – www.appletreebroadway.co.uk

Photos: Copyright Apple Tree B&B

Hailes Abbey

The ruins of Hailes Abbey enjoy a beautiful and tranquil setting in quiet seclusion in the Cotswolds near Winchcombe.

Hailes Abbey
Hailes Abbey

Hailes Abbey was founded in 1246 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. He had been caught in a storm at sea and, upon threat of his ship going down, he vowed to God that if he survived, he would found a religious house.

Upon returning to land he kept his vow. Henry granted him the manor of Hailes and with the help of monks from Beaulieu Abbey, in five years Hailes Abbey was built.

The site was consecrated in 1251 in the presence of Henry III, Queen Eleanor of Provence, and 13 bishops, among others.

The Abbey would probably have remained a relatively unimportant place but in around 1270 the monks claimed to have a phial said to contain the “blood of Christ” and supposedly authenticated by the Pope. Such a potent religious symbol meant the abbey could set themselves up as a place of pilgrimage.

A special extension to the east end of the abbey church was built and the phial was kept in an elaborate shrine. Soon Hailes Abbey became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in England and the faithful flocked in their thousands to pay homage to the sacred phial. A hotel was even built by the Prior to accommodate the wealthier visitors and to attend to their need for somewhere to stay.

Chaucer mentions the abbey and the phial in The Pardoner’s Tale (one of The Canterbury Tales) written between 1387 and 1400. The theme of the tale is said to be “greed is the root of all evil”!

The Abbey was closed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the phial with the so-called “blood of Christ” which had brought pilgrims for centuries was smashed. The phial was found to contain a mixture of honey and saffron.

After the Dissolution, Hailes Abbey was given to Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s sixth wife) and was subsequently passed down through the family. By the 18th Century, the site was overgrown and decaying.

Hailes Abbey today is a tranquil place of dramatic cloister arches which give an idea of how impressive the site must have been when it was built and as it grew in importance as a leading pilgrimage destination. Around the site, sheep graze contentedly and because it is a relatively unappreciated place, it is often possible to have the ruins all to yourself.

The site is owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage.

You can walk among the evocative ruins of Hailes Abbey and imagine how the medieval monks once lived in its extensive and elaborate buildings. The museum contains sculptures, stonework and other finds from the site. The church (by the car park) pre-dates the Abbey by about 100 years and is well worth a visit to see the magnificent wall-paintings.

There are only limited facilities at the site but if you follow the lane, about 500 yards further down is Hayles Fruit Farm and they have a little cafe.

Perennial delights

BadseyNursery03We have a wonderful free magazine called Cotswold Country Gardener and in it I found an advert for a plant nursery near me called Cotswold Garden Flowers. What a find!

It’s approached through the village of Wickhamford (lovely old village centre) and then you head down a narrow country lane.

First impression was great, they have display gardens too. They have taken full advantage of their land to create show borders featuring many perennials to reflect their stock. At the time I visited (late March), the hellebores were making a great display but wherever you looked there was something unusual peeping out at you.

BadseyNursery01There are greenhouses and polytunnels displaying the plants for sale and the selection was astounding. I’d recently been having trouble finding Bears Breeches but they had several varieties. This was also the case for euphorbia,  heucheras and many other choice perennials. The selection of succulents was very tempting.

I’ll be visiting Cotswold Garden Flowers again and if you are looking for something that little bit unusual,  I suggest you do too!

Cotswold Garden Flowers is located about 4 miles from Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast, Broadway, so an ideal base when visiting them. 

Courses in the Cotswolds

There are some wonderful training courses available in this area of the Cotswolds so I thought I would pull together a few as a sample of what is available.

Little Soap School

The Little Soap School runs day courses in the art of making soap. There are a few different courses including soap making and an introduction to making natural creams and balms. We have had a couple of guests attending the soap making course and they came back with a box of all the gorgeously scented soaps they had made during the day and full of enthusiasm for what they could do with their newly learned skill. Based in Broadway.

School of Millinery

MillinerySchool
School of Millinery student’s work

 

Ever fancied trying hat making? Courses are for all levels from beginners and the experienced in the art of Traditional Couture Millinery. There are a selection of 2 and 3 day courses available throughout the year whether you want to try making a fascinator, tiara, beret, pillbox or tiny top hats, there is lots of choice. Based in Badsey, about 4 miles from Broadway.

Honeybourne Pottery

Honeybourne Pottery have a range of ceramics for sale but more importantly you can have a go yourself. You can try working with clay either on the potters’ wheel, model your own masterpiece at the table or ceramic painting. There are 75 minute potters’ wheel taster sessions which could be just the thing to see whether you have a hidden talent. Based in Honeybourne, about 2 miles from Broadway.

Drive a Steam Train

GWR March 2016

Every little boy’s dream used to be to drive a steam train. Now everyone who used to be a little boy (or girl) can live that dream at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. You can choose to drive and fire a steam train or drive a diesel train, so for an experience you will remember this could be the one for you! How about as a gift for that special someone whilst you relax in the Brake Coach.

Stratford upon Avon

View of Stratford-upon-Avon church
View of Stratford-upon-Avon church

Stratford-upon-Avon doesn’t need any introduction really; it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and has a wealth of history, a world-renowned theatre and some great shops!

Firstly, how to get there. Stratford-upon-Avon is about 15 miles from Broadway. You can catch a bus to escape the car for a day, but for drivers the easiest way is to park at the Park-and-Ride. We use the one at the Rosebird centre next to Waitrose. It is a beautiful drive up through the villages of Willersey and Mickleton. Parking currently costs £1 for the day so is very reasonably priced but make sure you park in the public car park not the Waitrose car park. You can then catch the bus into Stratford-upon-Avon but I prefer to walk. There is a footpath along a former railway track which makes a lovely stroll.

Footpath to Stratford upon Avon
Footpath to Stratford upon Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon has a large number of things to keep you busy for the day. There are five family homes related to William Shakespeare, probably the most important of which is the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which is based in the house where

Birthplace Trust
Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare grew up. The other museums are Ann Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens (Shakespeare’s wife), Mary Arden’s Farm (Shakespeare’s mother), Hall’s Croft (the home of Shakespeare’s daughter and her husband) and Harvard House. Harvard House is a few hundred metres from New Place, a house bought by Shakespeare in 1596. New Place and Nash’s House are currently closed for conservation.

As the various houses cover the different generations of the Shakespeare family, they also offer an insight into how times were changing. There is a shuttle bus which runs between the different houses and you can get a joint entry ticket which also gives you entry into the chancel where Shakespeare is buried in Holy Trinity Church, which is where he was baptised.

MAD Museum
MAD Museum

Also worth a look in Stratford-upon-Avon is the MAD Museum which stands for Mechanical Art and Design. Watch the balls roll and bounce through the exhibits, see the ones which trick the eyes and you can play with some of the exhibits too.

There are a wide range of shops with some of the larger brand stores but lots of smaller shops too offering a selection of items with good cookery shops, book shops, craft shops and perfumeries, together with clothes shops and shoe shops.

Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre

And after that you may need a sit down! There are also lots of tea shops so a cream tea may be in order, possibly a matinée at the theatre, or how about a pint of bitter at the Old Thatch Tavern, the only remaining thatched building in Stratford-upon-Avon dating back to 1470.

After such a busy day, head back to Broadway for a peaceful evening in a beautiful Cotswold village.

Apple Tree House Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.