Day 23, Wednesday January 1, 2020
According to this morning’s news Conjola and Lake Conjola were pretty much decimated yesterday. My sister and her family were still down there – their house is fine but they’re sheltering those who weren’t so lucky.
Tumba is still on emergency watch as Batlow and Laurel Hill have been impacted – the Sugar Pine Walk hasn’t escaped. My heart hurts for everyone caught up in these infernos.
It’s bleak and dreary again and bitterly cold.
First up this morning was Adlestrop, a small village near Moreton in Marsh. The name apparently means “Village of a person called Adel.” There’s so much about that which I love.
The village’s claim to fame comes from both Jane Austen and a poet named Edward Thomas.
In the case of the former, she visited Adlestrop House (pic below), formerly the rectory, a number of times and probably created Mansfield Park from the experience.
In the case of the latter, Edward Thomas wrote a poem titled “Adlestrop” in 1917 about, wait for it, the Oxford-Worcester express stopping there.
The poem is now on the plaque on the seat in the village bus shelter (pic above) and is really quite lovely. The station itself closed back in 1966.
Next stop was Daylesford which had been recommended by H&J’s landlord. The village though consisted of just a few houses and some massive gates leading to the estate. Apparently, the whole village is owned by the estate. According to Wikipedia, it is currently the Gloucestershire home of Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford, major shareholders in an excavator company. can you even imagine owning a village? The Earl of Snowden and his family rent a cottage on the estate, yes, rent it. The whole idea of a privately-owned village gets all my anti-elitist prickles going.
There’s an organic farm shop on the estate that I’ve been following on Instagram for some time, but it was closed – being New Years Day, of course.
Onto Churchill via Kingham. I’d wanted to eat at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham but hadn’t been able to get a booking – and it too was closed today. In any event we followed some girls on ponies into the village, took some photos of thatched cottages and drove back out to Churchill.
Strangely enough, Churchill does have a church on a hill (get it?) – but that’s not where it gets its name from, that is probably the old English word cyrc meaning a hill or barrow or burial ground.
The village hasn’t always been here on this hill. Until 1684 it sat at the bottom of Hastings Hill until a fire (started by a baker who was trying to get around paying chimney tax) destroyed a heap of houses and other buildings and killed a few villagers. The village was rebuilt further up the hill – this time from stone rather than timber frames and thatch #quicklearners. Apparently, the old village can still be seen as grassy mounds.
Anyways, it’s a lovely spot with a Victorian fountain near the church and a lovely green common.
For me though, the claim to this village’s fame is that Churchill is the birthplace of chef Rick Stein, one of my foodie heroes. Oh, and I loved the donkeys in the paddock behind the church.
From here it was a quick few miles across to Chipping Norton, or Chippy as locals apparently call it. H&J’s landlord had told us not to bother stopping here but by now tea (and coffee) was needed and the only thing open was a Costa, but beggars, as they say, can’t be choosers.
The name means “market north town” with Chipping from the old English ceping (with an accent over the e) meaning market.
There was a castle on the hill once upon a time, but not now. Also, just like Churchill, the town wasn’t always where it is now. It was further down in the valley but the local lord had ambitions to make the town a major centre so he built a huge market square up the hill – as you do.
Houses were built to surround the square – long narrow sites with alleyways, or burgage plots, that gave every shop a window onto the high street. This, dear reader, is where the origin of the term window shopping comes from (don’t say you don’t learn anything here).
One of these alleyways is called Rope Walk (pic below) where ropes could be stretched out all the way back to the streets behind and twisted. Cool, hey?
The town, like many here in The Cotswolds, was built on the back of the wool trade and just out of town is a tweed mill that’s now been converted into flats. It’s easy to imagine when this was a hive of activity – and long, hard, poorly paid days.
Our final stop for the day was Lower Slaughter for lunch – our first for the year and our last meal (for this trip) with H&J who are off to spend the night in a hotel near the airport before flying out to Iceland at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning.
I had a fish pie with the sort of veg I’d been craving, Sarah had ravioli and Grant had the pork faggots – which he loved but were way too rich and offally for me (they’re essentially a rissole made from offcuts and offal).
We spent the rest of the day in Clover Cottage staying warm and doing not very much at all. Tomorrow is our last full day here and by this time next week, I’ll be back at work. Heavy sighs.