Our Cotswolds Adventure: Month 1

As we prepare to go home, I thought it would be fun to recap our stay here in the Cotswolds and preserve it in the time capsule that is the interwebs.  Three months is a lot to cover so I’m breaking down the posts by month.  It’s been so much fun looking through my pictures in order to remember everything, and I’m so grateful we took this adventure!

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Week 0:

The week leading up to our departure, I began to freak out.  This anxious feeling crept over me as I agonized over thoughts like “Are we crazy?”, “What if the kids are miserable?”, “Does the cottage have a chimney for Santa to come down?”.

The house deposit was paid and our flights were booked so we were going.  We managed to pack everything for 3 months into 2 large and 2 medium suitcases.  Thanks to Amazon UK, we were able to travel light by having toiletries and other necessities delivered directly to the cottage. 

Week 1:

My friend Erica stayed with us in the Cotswolds for the first two weeks when we had to quarantine as per the UK requirement at the time.

For the first week, it was a complete rollercoaster ride of emotions.  The highs were for sure the beautiful countryside and its rolling green hills dotted with sheep.  I couldn’t get enough of the fresh air and endless walks. I still can’t.  On my birthday, we walked around the Rollright Stones, which was very cool with its legend of the witch and the king.

On the challenging side, being in quarantine meant other than walking the dog, we were stuck in the house.  Luckily, Erica took that first week off so she was able to help me while Steven worked.  He and I made a big mistake by not discussing what quarantine here would look like, and things would come to a head in Week 2.

Where we ate: Home, but with food from Daylesford Farm Shop

Week 2:

Week 2 was a sh*t show.  It was my low point of the whole year, which is really saying something.  Erica went back to work, which meant I now had two adults doing meetings and phone calls all afternoon and evening while I struggled with the dog and the kids in the same house.  I’d taken 2 weeks “off”, but this was the most “on” I’d ever felt.  To make matters worse, everyone was still suffering from jet lag while adjusting to the time change. I was moody and resentful.  What’s worse, I completely neglected my own self care. 

Once we were out of quarantine, Erica stayed back with the dog and kids so Steven and I could go out to dinner.  In tears, I told him how I felt.  Close quarters put a magnifying glass on so many things, one of which was how negative his energy was from spending too much time at a job he didn’t love and not enough time at a job he did.  It felt good to let these feelings out, and I started letting other things go:  the perfect meditation practice of two 20-minute sessions per day; the sole responsibility to plan and cook delicious yet healthy dinners; and my obsessive cleaning every time someone came back from a walk. 

Where we ate: The Chequers in Churchill.

Week 3:

Steven quit one of his jobs (the one NOT bringing him joy)!  This would turn into one of many monumental shifts for this trip.  The second shift happened during this same week.  Jo, the teacher we hired for the kids, started teaching the kids every weekday afternoon.  This allowed us to get into a much needed routine we’ve maintained ever since.

It was early in week 3 when I had to drive to Cirencester, a nearby Cotswolds “city”, to have my daughter’s computer screen repaired.  It was a 45-minute drive so I was forced to get comfortable with driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car.  On the way there, I explored the beautiful villages of Burford and Bibury.  Once in Cirencester, I learned that public toilets require exact change, which led to the subsequent discovery that dog waste bags are strong enough to hold an entire bladder full of urine. #noshame

On Halloween, the kids wore pumpkin shirts and made nature masks at Daylesford where they learned about Bonfire Night.  It’s a big celebration, much bigger than Halloween here for sure. The next day, we visited the Batsford Arboretum, and the kids loved it! They were also huge fans of a massive playground a short drive away from us in Shipton-under-Wychwood.

Where we ate: The Fox at Oddington and the Chequers in Churchill for our first Sunday roast!

Week 4: 

This week was one for the books.  England announced a 4-week lockdown, which was overshadowed somewhat by the US election. While waiting to hear who our next president would be, we crammed in as many dinners out as we could before lockdown. 

The most interesting thing about this week was how little anxiety we felt.  Our media cultures couldn’t be more different.  Everyone here in the Cotswolds was so calm, and frankly, lockdown didn’t impact us much.  There’s no shortage of outdoor options out here.

The day before lockdown, our dear friends Julie and Chessie met us at Daylesford with their dogs.  We took a long muddy walk to the Wild Rabbit in Kingham where they introduced me to Seedlip (a non-alcoholic gin) mixed with elderflower and soda.  It was delicious!

That evening, Daylesford hosted their Christmas preview.  The entire farm shop was decorated to the nines, and we did a tasting of all their holiday menu offerings. This included mulled wine, mince pies and roasted chestnuts (yes, from an open fire).

By the weekend, we were in total lockdown, and the US President was announced.  While I can’t speak for every British person, everyone we came across congratulated us on the results. 

Where we ate: The Bell at Stow, The Daylesford Trough, the Kingham Plough and the Wild Rabbit in Kingham.

Stay tuned next week for my recap of our second month in the Cotswolds!

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