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 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.
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.
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.