Weekend Away in the Cotswolds
The last weekend in September saw 26 of us heading to Stow-in-the-Wold in the Cotswolds, on a weekend away once again organised by our Chairman, Dave Barton. Some of us had arranged to meet up in the café at the Bicester Tesco, but we discovered on arrival that they were in the grip of a power cut and the supermarket was not open for business, so no breakfast there! After considering other options, we reluctantly trooped over to MacDonalds, but, whilst they had power, they had no burger buns and precious little else – and some poor woman was in the throes of an epileptic fit and under the care of the paramedics. So we got in the cars and headed off to the Cotswolds. Adrian Bennett had prepared a cross-country route to the hotel in Stow-on-the Wold, and halfway round this we spotted a café cum general store in the small village of Chadlington, so we stopped for a coffee, but decided instead, as it was approaching noon, to have lunch there as the menu looked inviting. Although it was well past the time that they normally serve breakfast, they nevertheless produced for us what can only be described as the best Full English we have had for a very long time, so perhaps it was as well Tesco’s café wasn’t open after all ….
We were staying at The Wyck Hill Hotel, and this turned out to be a superb choice of venue – a lovely old country house hotel and spa set in extensive grounds, where we had enormous bedrooms, a far cry from the rooms in The Isle of Wight! When we had settled in we drove into Stow to explore this picturesque and bustling market town. For our evening meal, after pre-prandial drinks in the hotel bar, we went by coach to Stow, where we were booked into The Bell , and where the staff did an excellent job of looking after us – especially the chef, who must have been working like a slave to get all the delicious meals out together.
Next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we were off to Chedworth for a guided tour of the extensive Roman Villa there. Our guide was the very knowledgeable Doctor Quintus, who explained the history of the villa, how it was discovered, its significance and why it was sited in Chedworth. Conservation of the site is a work in progress, and will occupy the conservators for many years to come – thanks to them, the main features of the villa, particularly such parts as the mosaic floors, baths and hypercaust, were presented in good condition considering how long they had been covered up by the actions of nature.
After lunch at Chedworth we headed off to Chavenage House near Tetbury. After some confusion caused by conflicting satnav instructions we eventually found the house, arriving from different directions depending on which brand of satnav you were following, and we parked up around the front of the property for the usual photo-call. This grade 1 listed building is privately owned, but Chairman Dave had arranged a tour of this historic and important building, and this turned out to be extremely interesting. The tour was guided by the owners themselves – Caroline and her father – and both were not only informative, but hugely entertaining, especially Caroline. No stuffy history lesson this! Chavenage has a long and fascinating history, reported to be the most haunted house in Britain, and is the ‘Trenwith’ in the Poldark television series and has also starred in other films such as Poirot, so Caroline had many an amusing anecdote about this. After the tour we sat down to a superb afternoon tea in the ballroom.
Then back to the hotel to change for the Gala Dinner in the Adams Room, where we were served with another superb meal and were looked after well by the hotel staff.
It had rained heavily overnight, so Sunday dawned cloudy and grey, but we were able to drive to Sudeley Castle in a rare dry spell after breakfasting and checking out of the Hotel. There was a Classic Car gathering at Sudeley, but attendance to this was poor on the day, probably because the weather forecast for the day was so ominous. Still, we admired the cars that had braved the weather before touring the castle and partaking of a light lunch that Dave had arranged, before saying our goodbyes and heading for home.
The weather – did I mention the weather? Not quite as bad as the Isle of Wight last year, but we drove from venue to venue through intermittent and quite heavy showers all weekend, but driving home in the lashing rain on Sunday afternoon must rate as one of the least fun experiences we have had in the MGs for many a year! Nevertheless, the weather could not spoil what was a hugely enjoyable weekend among good friends, and superbly organised by Dave, to whom we are extremely grateful and to whom a huge vote of thanks is due. Well done, Dave!!