And believe me, if you looked inside my house you’d see I don’t care much for laundry or dusting, either. My point being: every time I spend a weekend cleaning house, I berate myself for not getting outside and checking out the history and countryside around me. Why sort the linen closet when you can go to a Roman villa? I mean, really.
“Foreigners,” as a neighbor informed me, “always care about these things more than people who live here.” The nagging feeling that I’m regarded as an easily impressed hayseed aside, I have no problem being the enthusiastic foreigner who spends her spare time rummaging through the countryside. My kids are catching on, and like me have their own collection of the modern equivalent of medieval pilgrim badges — in their cases, usually pencil sharpeners or flattened pennies found in museum gift shops. Or when there’s no shop: a rock, a leaf, a twig, or a conker.
In the past month we’ve had so many ‘days out’ I can’t seem to catch up.
Dean Forest Railway Santa Train — where kids get presents and parents get booze.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace. They are very interested in historical accuracy and living history here. I was a little worried someone was going to actually have a baby right in the bed as part of the tour, to add to the verisimilitude.
Stonehenge. Almost feels like there should be a sign: “Real Thing – Not A Movie Set”
Salisbury Cathedral. Like a dream.
Warwick Castle. Like a Renaissance Festival on steroids. With all-you-can-drink espresso.
Bourton-on-Water, again, to see the floating tree while it was still on display. Even though Bourton-on-Water is widely deprecated as overrun with tourists, I love it. Though I don’t think I can call it “the Venice of the Cotswolds” with a straight face.
The Roman Baths. Must be crazy here in the summer — winter is a beautiful un-crowded time to visit at leisure.
Northleach. This is one of the fourteenth-century brass engravings found in the medieval wool church.
Great Witcombe Roman Villa. Part of its charm has to be the walk past the horse pastures to get here.
A relentless group tour of pottery houses in Stoke-on-Trent. (This was stop number four in a six-house tour.)
And the National Waterways Museum by the Gloucester historic docks, where I promptly fell in love with Narrowboat Roses and Castle folk art while the kids got soaked figuring out a hands-on display of a river locks system.
Have I gone a bit crazy? Should I be spending more time cleaning out my fridge? I will think about that seriously for at least two minutes.
Nah. Bring it on, English Heritage Smart Phone App! C’mon, Slow Cotswolds, with your asparagus festivals and shin-kicking competitions! Serve it up, internet, show me your What’s On guides! Vacuuming can wait.