A Walk in the English Countryside

Lady Baby - ready

Interrupting the saga of “Friends for Frances” (for sure to be continued), here is Lady Baby at Heathrow Airport after an overnight flight with her parents and paternal grandparents, wearing soft purple boots, pulling a suitcase disguised as an owl, and about to embark on four days of walking in the Cotswolds, a famously scenic part of England.

From Heathrow we boarded a bus to Oxford, where our younger son and his sweet bride met us at the bus stop. We overnighted in that fabled city, and spent the next morning at the nearly 400-year old University of Oxford Botanic Garden with grass for Lady Baby to run on and ducks for her to greet.

Our route, through classic Cotswold countryside, led from Cheltenham to Winchcombe, to Broadway, then Chipping Campden, and finished in Moreton-in-Marsh – three nine-mile days and one of six, up hill and down, through villages of honey-hued stone buildings, colorful with flowers and tourists. A luggage transport service wrestled our flotilla of bags (including car seat) to each night’s B&B, small inn, or pub.

Lady Baby - doorstep waiting

Wearing her little hiking pants and sun hat, and wielding my poles collapsed to her size, Lady Baby walked plenty. She also rode on her parents’ shoulders or in a backpack, and most often in the Bob (an all-terrain jogging stroller of much durability and flexibility). One or the other of her strong parents pushed the Bob uphill, through rutted, matted fields, and along narrow tracks and small lanes. Helped by Lady Baby’s aunt and uncle, they lifted the Bob, with sometimes snoozing passenger, over stiles and “kissing gates” (neither of which allows a cow or a sheep or a stroller to pass through).

Lady Baby - doing it herself

Miraculously the weather held steady all week – morning sun, then cooling haze and breeze in the afternoon. When we lunched in the shade of huge trees, Lady Baby walked amongst us and offered “crisps” to all.

In spite of early-on jet lag sleepless nights (with Mrs. Hughes bearing the brunt of those wakeful hours), Lady Baby upheld her reputation for genial, coping resilience. Her resourceful parents seemed always ready with a diversion – a topic for conversation, a song, an animal sighting – and they anticipated snack and nap needs. (We could cover a lot of ground during an unbroken hour and half of stroller sleep.)

In Moreton-in-Marsh, at our final hotel, the tilty-floored 17th Century Redesdale Arms that once hosted Charles I, we celebrated. In the morning, we woke to a steady rainfall, and soon caught a train bound for London’s Paddington Station.

I’m holding dear some Cotswolds moments – the whole family spread out in sheep-dotted fields – twosomes shifting as different pairs held long conversations throughout the day. A pastoral, bucolic, gentle landscape of lore – and the rhythm and joy of long days afoot, with people you love.

Lady Baby - approaching Broadway

15 thoughts on “A Walk in the English Countryside

  1. SO beautifully shared, I loved your story of your walking tour with family. What does Lady Baby remember of that time? Would she tell her own story of being there or was she too young to remember? Luckily her Grandmother Kay-tee has preserved the memories in sweet detail.                                  ~Jane

    • Thank you Jane! And a friend told me she could remember things from an even younger age – so maybe, with the aide of stories and photos, LB will remember some of a magical week!

  2. Katy, I feel happy reading this piece. As usual, your sketches capture beautifully the moments. So engaging. What a wonderful time you shared together.

  3. Beautiful post Katy! Thank you for sharing this journey—really quite an adventure with a two year old in tow! Sounds like lots of fun, laughs, and love all around.

  4. Such pretty sketches and lovely accompanying sentences. Those will be lovely days for you all to remember. My husband and I spent a week in the Cotswolds the year after we married, in 1968. It is nice to know that this area is still there, picturesque and peaceful. With so many places changing or “modernizing” it is lovely to think of the Costwolds the way they were back then.

    • Thank you Vagabonde- great to hear from you. You are right about the Cotswolds staying lovely, a declared “area of scenic beauty” – I think great efforts are made to preserve. There are lots of cars, of course, but walking through fields keeps you mostly away from them.

  5. Oh, how wonderful!! We visited all those places on our somewhat more leisurely ten day tour. It sounds as if the weather was perfect. I am in awe of you all for daring to take a toddler along — well done!

  6. I love thinking about the “rhythm and joys of long days afoot.” Also so enjoyed the poetry of this whole post – the lovely paintings of the sweet toddler in her soft purple boots and hiking hat, and the people who love her hovering gently about. A little storybook in itself.

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