The English Countryside
If you’re craving a quiet weekend away from the city, or secretly/not-so-secretly obsessed with “The Holiday,” the Cotswolds is the perfect destination. So we spent one there, in Gloucester to be specific.
And getting there is as simple as a two-hour train ride!
We took off from Paddington Station, which is, fun fact, how the world-famous Paddington Bear got his name. (The first story in the series begins with this line: “Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear for Paddington was the name of the station.”) And yes, there is a stall dedicated to selling Paddington Bear paraphernalia, you know, if you’re into that sorta thing.
Anyway, off to Gloucester we went! Upon arrival we took off into town, luckily there was signage everywhere because, suffice it to say, we had no idea what we were doing.
It was a Saturday, which meant that town was bustling regardless of the relatively early hour (well, early for me… It was 10). We continued on past the shops, down the cobblestone streets and to Gloucester Cathedral, which was definitely worth the hour we spent there. I’m not really a big fan of cathedrals usually, but this one was different. The inside was bright, clean and well-kept, nothing like the ornate Sacre Coeur or Notre Dame. It was instead simply decorated, depending on light to create magic rather than gilded surfaces. The massive columns on either side of the interior were bathed from floor to ceiling in rainbow patterns by the light streaming through stained glass windows. But the light didn’t fall anywhere else. Just on the columns. It was beautiful.
We continued our walk to the river, and sat down at a pub for a massive heaping of fish and chips.
Afterwards we caught a cab to the Hatton Court Hotel, a converted mansion set high on a hill about 15 minutes outside of Gloucester city centre, in a town called Upton St. Leonards. And, God knows why, but for some reason they decided to give two hapless American students who snagged the reservation on a discount from laterooms.com (which, by the way, is an awesome site. Also notable: thetrainline.com, not to be confused with “trainline.com” which is the website for the band Train) the best room in the house. It was beautiful: corner room, top floor, with unobstructed views in both directions of the entire Gloucestershire valley.
We spent the rest of the weekend hiking; riding horses; reading; drinking tea and drinking… not tea… in tiny, hole-in-the-wall pubs in the nearby hamlet of Painswick, where we were the only Americans for miles (which, despite their use of the metric system, is actually the measurement they use here. Not kilometers as I had previously thought.). It was wonderful and if you’re looking for a weekend away in the countryside, I’d definitely recommend it!