Updated: Jan 11
I know, it’s madness, but it does happen occasionally. A kind spouse sometimes offers to give up a day of holiday to enable his or her other half to indulge in a tour of the Cotswolds.
Sometimes at the time of booking he might even say they don’t need to include any shopping on the tour! I smile to myself. It has happened a few times now that within 30 minutes of a tour beginning, she has already popped in to a lovely shop and come out with bags of goodies! Think Broadway Tower - where there are two very nice boutiques. I can’t stop her and it is supporting local business after all.
If you desperately want to visit and are not sure your spouse or partner is going to have a good day, here are some really interesting activities in the Cotswolds which may spark your other half’s enthusiasm.
And bear in mind, that I am very happy to facilitate and make arrangements so that your spouse can be dropped off somewhere s/he’ll enjoy while we go and have fun.
1. For Military History Enthusiasts
Sir Winston was born at Blenheim, his grandparents lived there, and when he was home from boarding school, he spent happy days of much needed freedom losing himself in the huge gardens of Blenheim Palace. The Palace takes about 2 hours to go around, if you like reading info panels. If not, probably doable in 1 hour. The Winston Churchill exhibit is excellent. His wax work is formidable, it’s hard to resist talking to him, but thankfully the appearance of a room warden made me check myself.
The grounds have lovely walks and gardens to explore. Blenheim is half a day.
From Blenheim I recommend a 20 min scenic walk into the neighbouring market town of Woodstock. It’s very pretty here and it is small, so it is difficult to get yourself lost. There are some nice pubs to eat lunch in. My favourite for lunch is The Woodstock Arms – try and eat in the bar area, where it is cosier. They serve pub classics at reasonable prices. Nice beer on tap to be enjoyed.
After lunch, pop along to the museum. The front of the museum is the Oxfordshire Museum. It’s free to enter this section, but you have to pay £6.50 for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum. It is well worth it. The museum is excellent. It highlights the lives of many men who served in WWI and WWII, and also how all families were affected and how people at home worked towards the war efforts too.
It takes about an hour to explore, there’s a nice café where you can sit in the beautiful walled garden on a sunny day. It is closed on Mondays.
2. For Beer Drinking Enthusiasts
The Cotswolds offers some great breweries and tours. I am a huge fan of the family owned Hook Norton Brewery, in the north Cotswolds. The Brewery was established in the Victorian period and the building has not been over developed or lost its history. The brewery make Hook Norton ales, in a wonderful variety of hoppy strengths and tastes. Their tour lasts over an hour, and then you get taken to their bar to sample some ales. The staff are really knowledgeable, friendly and are real locals.
They still deliver the beer to pubs around the village in their old cart using the shire horses to pull the cart. You can visit the horses in the stables and they will look disdainfully back at you, while you admire their size and beauty.
After that pop in to the Brewery’s really good restaurant for a classic English meal. The food is simple and good quality. I am partial to a meat pie and mash.
That’s about a half day, plus time to snooze off your sample tasting on a bench outside in the sun (of course it will be), enjoying the brewery activities of its workers, while you wait for us to come and get you.
Broughton Castle is a really good option after this, once we rejoin together. The castle isn’t open everyday, so we would need to check that first. (They announce their opening days from 14 March 2023)
Broughton Castle is the family home of the 21st Lord and Lady Saye & Sele, whose family name is Fiennes. The ownership of the Castle has remained in the same family since 1447. I have never seen so much armoury, and the gardens are stunningly romantic. Mr Darcy is just waiting around every corner (for me).
3. The Gardening Enthusiast
If your spouse is into gardens and gardening, then Hidcote and Kiftsgate gardens will be a complete delight. These two extensive gardens are so beautiful and exciting to discover, they might even make you shed a tear (just me, perhaps?).
They are within a short walk of each other, so easy to go from one to the next. The National Trust charity owns Hidcote. To those in the know, the National Trust cafés are reliably consistent, serving tasty light lunches – sandwiches, sausage rolls, quiches and soup and salads. They often have small second hand bookshops to browse in too.
Hidcote is open everyday, Kiftsgate is closed on Fridays and only opens in the afternoon.
I hope these ideas help. If you are looking for a particular theme or interest which I haven’t covered here, let me know. I’ll have a think and see what I can come up with for you.