Even with a lockdown, our second month in the Cotswolds featured some of our greatest highs. Other than not being able to go out to eat, our days stayed the same. And fortunately, the weather was unbelievably beautiful most of the time.
If you haven’t yet read about our first month, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for month 2 of our Cotswolds adventure!
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Out of nowhere, my kids started dressing themselves, brushing their teeth and fixing their own breakfast! I don’t know what’s in the Cotswolds air, but Steven and I weren’t complaining. While we do still have to check on some things (usually the teeth brushing), they’ve maintained this habit ever since.
We took advantage of the beautiful weather by testing our kids’ endurance and taking them on some of the long walks we’d discovered in our first weeks here. In the evenings, we played Uno and Rummy 500 (side note: great for teaching math!) in front of a cozy fire. Once a week, Jo would take the kids for a full day so it was at the end of week 5 when Steven and I explored a beautiful village called Bourton-on-the-Water. Here I discovered the vegan pasties at the Cornish Bakery. Wow, will I miss those!
Where we ate: The Cornish Bakery and the Bakery on the Water, both in Bourton-on-the-Water.
While many places closed during lockdown, the Cotswolds has no shortage of outdoor options. One of these, and possibly our favorite, was Blenheim Palace. To be honest, when our British friends told us to visit Blenheim Palace, I was hesitant. I thought, oh they must not understand we have young kids who don’t want to see a stuffy old museum-type place. Since we were in lockdown anyway, I figured whatever, let’s check it off the list.
Wow, was I glad we did! First of all, something you must know about me is I’m a die hard Harry Potter fan. As soon as I saw the tree from the Order of the Phoenix film, I was in my glory. Even my kids, who haven’t yet read the books, were excited! Then we decided to walk around the lake. How long could it take? Four miles later, we were exhausted in the best possible way. We were also ravenous, which was great because we discovered the Psoul Food truck at the palace entrance. It was plant-based heaven, and I’ll forever dream of their burgers. And cookies. And brownies. Okay, everything.
Steven and I went back to Bourton-on-the-Water because our first trip included a failed attempt to find the walking path to Upper and Lower Slaughter. We were told those villages were too beautiful to miss. This time, we were determined to find them.
The Slaughters were every bit as beautiful as claimed, though our walk was punctuated by Abraxos mishaps. There was the moment he went diving for ducks in the river and then another where Steven had to track him down after he took it upon himself to go quail hunting. The locals call it “pulling a runner”. Abraxos has done well off leash, but if there’s a bird around, his prey drive kicks in, and drama ensues.
While planning this trip, Steven and I knew it would span the most American of holidays: Thanksgiving. In a surprise to no one, Thanksgiving isn’t a thing here. We decided what could be more in the spirit of Thanksgiving than bringing this custom to the natives. Since our bubble included Jo and her husband Leo, we invited them to have Thanksgiving dinner in our Cotswolds cottage. At the risk of insulting my family, it was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Jo and Leo only knew of Thanksgiving through the TV show Friends so it was a lot of fun to introduce them to the holiday. We drank lots of (maybe too much) Prosecco and wine, ate a traditional (but Jen-style so healthy) feast, and all said something we are grateful for. It was a magical night and a memory I will treasure always.
Where we ate: Home with a turkey thanks to Daylesford Farm
By the end of week 8, lockdown was over, and we were off to London for the weekend. We stayed at the Egerton House Hotel, and since we were one of only two guests staying there, they gave us an extra room attached to the one we’d booked. The kids were in heaven having an entire space all to themselves.
The first thing Steven did was go get a hair cut, while I had someone come give me a mani/pedi. After two months, I was thrilled to feel pampered. I’m low maintenance about some things, but mani/pedis are a staple in my self-care routine. We enjoyed hotel breakfasts (I love hotel breakfasts!), many delicious meals out and the sights we thought would be most exciting for the kids.
One thing we were mindful about was visiting places within walking distance of our hotel to avoid taxis. Luckily, the hotel was in a great location so we didn’t feel limited. We took the kids to one of my favorite places, the Victoria & Albert Museum. Our daughter loved it, possibly because of all the jewels on display. Personally, I prefer the fashion exhibit. We also made trips to Buckingham Palace and watched the changing of the guard.
A personal highlight of this weekend was reconnecting with an old friend from elementary school! Eric and his family live in London, and he has two daughters the same age as my kids. It was wonderful to meet up with him and his family in Hyde Park, even if we had to keep it short because it was so cold!
Other than being fairly quiet, London seemed much the same, a contrast to how I’ve felt going into New York City since the pandemic began. Steven and I have always said London is the only other city we’ve been to where we could actually see ourselves living, other than New York.
For a month spent mostly in lockdown, there was a lot to cover! I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I did living it. Look out for month 3 of our Cotswolds stay next week!