Cotswolds for a week

Lechlade Travel Blog

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From the bridge in Burford

We are headed to a little village called Filkins to stay at my Aunt and Uncle's house.  They are going to take a weeks holiday and we have been offered the house for our base and we get a cat too.  Baldrick is black and his age is uncertain (probably about 15 years) and was around when I visited 7 years ago.  On our way we spot a farm shop and stop for a cream tea with clotted cream.  Dawdle through places like Lechlade and Burford showing Andrew BGS where my father went to school. 

We arrive in Filkins following my cousin's directions and have tea in the hot sun in the garden and meet Baldrick.  Do a tour of the house and one bedroom is referred to as Kate's room (my youngest daughter stayed in this room when she visited last year).

The Mummers play in Filkins
  We are given the other guest room and the bed was the one my grandmother slept in.  Baldrick's routine is explained and my uncle shows me where his food bowl is situated in the garage, in front of a contents list taped to a trunk as 'he likes to read while he is eating'!  Andrew and Neville settle in the evening to watch another round of the World Cup Soccer after a lovely pasta dish Pamela has cooked.

Next morning I drive Pamela and Neville to the bus stop and we spend the next couple of days just chilling out.  Pamela leaves us two tickets for the Filkins Feast on Sunday and tells me that there is to be a pig roast and entertainment which includes a Mummers Play.  I am very interested in these plays as they are traditionally done by the Morris Dancers and last time I was over she took me to a guy who recited the whole of a Mummers play for me, doing all the parts.

Looking for a view of the White Horse of Uffington
  I ask her where to find the paddock and she vaguely tells us to follow the crowd.  Instead we hear a brass band and follow the sound to a marquee.  Several village women make a point of welcoming us and inquiring if we are new residents.  The entertainment includes a story teller and a juggler and of course the finale is the mummers play.  The local ficticious 'Saint' kills the dragon, receives a mortal wound,  the doctor revives the dying saint and all is well as always.

Our week is spent gently, visiting the noteworthy villages and include Bourton-on-the-Water, Minster Lovell, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Brize Norton, Carterton, Bibery's Arlington Row.  One of my cousins is the gardener at Asthal Manor and the gardens are open for a couple of weeks so we go there meet him and look over the lovely gardens.

One of the oldest and best preserved tythe barns in England
  The Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock has a exhibition of baskets and weaving and my Grandfather has an example of a 1920's-30's basket included in the exhibition.  He was blinded in the first World War and was taught basket weaving by St Dunstans, a charity which looks after blind service people and aids them into a life proffession.  He decided against basket weaving when given the choice and took up chicken farming.  St Dunstans gave him a lifetime lease on a few acres in deepest rural Oxfordshire with a house and they set up the sheds and a chicken farming business for him and his wife.

Now the story goes that he was told that in order to do the chicken farming option he had to have a wife and did he have one?  No, says he, he didn't.

Wayland's Smithy around mid-summer
  Well, says St Dunstans, best he find one first.  He went home and discussed his problem with his mother (my great grand-mother) and she asked him if there was anyone he thought would perhps consider the possibilty.  He said that there was once a young lady in the church youth group that he liked but she was probably too far above his station to consider him.  (The British still have a type of class system but is is not as bad as it was but it still exists, sadly)  Great grandmother then puts on hat and coat and walks across London to see the family of the said Gladys and explains the situation to her and the family and asks that she considers her son as a husband.
Arlington Row at Bibury
  After some thinking (not sure how long), she accepts the proposition and they marry.  It is said that asked later why she made such a descision, Gladys says that she lost her fiance in the war, many, many young men she knew sacrificed their lives for the cause in the war and this was her way that she could serve her country!    My grandfather lived until the early 1960's and I have fond memories of visiting the house at Carterton as we travelled with my parents around the world through his Naval career.  The chickens produced eggs.  Grandfather collected them, fed the chickens and listened to the weekly record of news events on the loud gramaphone ( he was also deafened by the bullet that caused him to lose his sight) each morning.  We were taught to make sure that we didn't move the furniture or leave our toys scattered around so that he wouldn't trip.  Granny would hand churn butter from a crate of cream left for her weekly by the milkman (?) and in return get to keep half of the output.  She made preserves from the orchard in the back garden and store the jars in the air raid shelter made of concrete blocks!

Back in Filkens, making use of the oven I make a roast beef dinner with the works.  Old Baldrick nimbly steals the last slice of beef from the cupboard bench and we are amazed that he can jump that far at his age!  On Friday we arrange to go to Eynsham to visit  another Aunt and Uncle and one of my cousins comes over too.  It is lovely to see them again after 7 years.  My Uncle is not well and this is the last time sadly that we will see him as he passed away in October.  Once we leave in the late afternoon we go back to Burford where there is to be a Dragon Procession and it is to be led by the Glouscestershire Morris Men.  This tradition began in 752 AD when Burford was in the kingdom of Mercia which was defended by King Ethelbald.  King Cuthbert of Wessex invaded, raised his standard of the Golden Dragon and continued annually to parade the standard through the streets to remind the people who their new leader was.  One of the Morris Men has a brother living in Wright's Beach, Jervis Bay near us!

A week passes and we tidy up the house and water the garden by watering can for the last time ( there is a hose pipe ban on at present), say goodbye to Baldrick and  move off.  Today we visit Stratford-on Avon and visit Ann Hathaway's house and garden and William Shakespeare's birthplace.  Hear the stories which include the annual bath ritual which generally occured in spring and probably gave rise to the popularity of spring weddings.  The camp site is a place called Great Burton and is near Cropredy and Banbury.  It is cheap at £8 per night and the facilities are good.

Sunday we are going back to London to do some travel arrangements but we call in at Banbury to see the famous Cross and a very fine statue of the lady in the nursery rhyme.  Back in ample time to watch Australia play at 3 pm.  This time after a scoreless game Italy score in the final minute and the commentators say that on match form and some contraversial referee descisions, Australia was robbed.

travelman727 says:
Thanks for the review and pics! The Cotswolds are one of my favorite places in England.
Posted on: Oct 24, 2006
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From the bridge in Burford
From the bridge in Burford
The Mummers play in Filkins
The Mummers play in Filkins
Looking for a view of the White Ho…
Looking for a view of the White H…
One of the oldest and best preserv…
One of the oldest and best preser…
Waylands Smithy around mid-summer
Wayland's Smithy around mid-summer
Arlington Row at Bibury
Arlington Row at Bibury
photo by: clearviews