England is at an end. We have tunneled beneath the sea to France, night-trained to its southerly reaches, and are now basking in the Mediterranean sun (well, moon currently, but let's not nitpick). But none of France today. Today, England!
More Cotswolds. Famous Arlington Row in Bibury, "most photographed houses in England," or so they claim. Something like that. Incredibly picturesque:
Also, teeming with swans. Swan infestation.
Not just swans. CYGNETS!!!
Truth in advertising, I guess, since we did stay at the SWAN Inn. (Which is so beautiful. Stay there. Look at it. I mean, look. Next pic taken from a tiny island on the property, next door to which there is a trout farm. Egads, it's all SO PRETTY.)
For a few days we were on a streak of staying at inns with animal names: in Woodstock, the Bear. In Bibury, the Swan. In Great Rissington (near Bourton-on-the-Water, one of the famous Cotswolds villages, which, dear god, skip it. So hokey.) the Lamb.
We liked the Lamb. It was a titch shabby, but in a nice way. Unlike the Swan, there were no real lambs gamboling about. Well, there was lamb, but it was not gamboling. It was, em, in burger form...
The wife who outlived Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, died here. We rushed a bit through the exhibits (four-year-old in tow and all) so don't ask me any questions. Clementine did learn some Henry VIII history, though. There were mannequins of all the wives, dressed in beautiful clothes, and most of them were generic mannequins, but Katherine Parr was special and had an actual face, and so did Henry, at his puffiest and bloatiest and looking nothing at all like Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Jim read C the placard about his "ulcerated legs" and how Katherine Parr soothed and calmed him and even held his gross legs in her lap, and so later Clementine's poor teddy bear Leon found himself suffering from ulcerated legs...which she cured by stealing a magic pearl from a dragon and surgically implanting it in his belly.
I bet Katherine Parr never tried that.
Katherine Parr's tomb:
Gorgeous place. It was mostly destroyed by Cromwell's army, and restored in the Victorian era by a glove fortune. By which I mean a private fortune made in the manufacture of gloves. So thank you, gloves, for Sudeley Castle.
There was a youth equestrian event going on while we were there!
Clementine, all day, kept saying things like, "This is the closest I've been to a swan in MY WHOLE LIFE!" and "This is the closest I've been to a horse in MY WHOLE LIFE!" Ditto peacock. Ditto owl (and wow, the kid does a mean snowy owl call, who knew?). It's like we deprive her of animal encounters.
We loved driving around the tranquil backroads of rural England. They're timeless. Amazing. And I'm reading Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee about growing up in a tiny Cotswolds village in the aftermath of WWI, so evocative, such gorgeous writing. If you want to read something that creates an intense sensory portrait of a time and place, read it.
This is the Broadway tower. Just walking around on grassy hills was somehow magical. I think the sky show had something to do with it. Those clouds. Also, there were deer! Really a lovely outing.
We ended the day at our first non-animal-named inn, Charingworth Manor, outside of Chipping Campden. Loved the shambles-y atmosphere. Doesn't it look half-abandonded? It was nice inside, and even has a giant indoor pool, which we did not use.
Clementine made a bunch of daisy rings on the lawn, and decided to try to sell them to the fairies, so she made a sign and left it on the windowsill, announcing their price at 10 p. each.
Overnight, faeries bought out her whole stock!
The sky continued crazy:
Farewell, England! We hope to see you soon!