Day 3: Stow-on-the-wold

14.06.2013. I was greeted at the youth hostel by the gleeful lady who has the peculiar habit of addressing everyone as ‘lovelies’. Nobody likes living in shared accomodation if given a choice, but traveling for long with no source of income meant I need to stretch every pound in my bank. Hostel-hopping is something I am quite used to by now, and I would like to think I have seen the worst (New York city remains unbeatable). This one seems okay, so I am unperturbed.

Stow-on-the-wold
Stow-on-the-wold

Stow-on-the-wold is the third Cotswold village I have seen, and probably my favourite. Life in this quaint historic market town appears to revolve around its iconic town center, with the towering (by Cotswold’s standards) church peering from a street across it. These beautiful buildings are typical of the region; chipped honey yellow limestone which must have seen better days. I spent the night here and was able to have the quiet village all to myself after the tourist crowds left.

I arrived at Stow-on-the-wold from Chipping Campden on the reliable regional bus, transiting at Moreton-in-marsh. Chipping is old English for ‘Market’, and this Cotswold village, which lies northward has all the characteristic of a great market town. Its high street is incredibly pretty, and at the tail end of which lies the beautiful old market hall.

Old market hall in Chipping Campden
Old market hall in Chipping Campden

Burton-on-the-water was the last Cotswold village I visited, which is also its most touristy. It is not difficult to see why, with charming bridges criss-crossing the calming waters along the pretty houses, it seems to be the physical emodiment of a cute English village everyone has in mind. With hordes of tourists jostling along the queue at the fish-and-chips joint, the whole idea of a ‘quaint village’ is however quite lost with Burton-on-the-water.

DSC_0171
Burton-on-the-water

Whilst waiting for the bus to Cheltenham at the village town hall, I was joined by a middle-aged lady, who was keen to have a chat. In the brief 5 minutes encounter, I gathered she was borned in Stratford, moved to Lemington Spa for 30 years, and was on her way to visit her husband (who had a previous wife) at the Cheltenhm hospital. Village life is indeed real, unassuming, and wonderful. Noting the presence of the few Co-operative supermarket branches on my travels, I can only hope that the onslaught of commercialism and globalisation will stop its track at the boundaries of these remarkable villages, where time seems to have magically stop.

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