Saturday, January 10, 2009
England Part 1 - The Cotswolds
I slept for 12 straight hours last night. I was beginning to struggle as soon as I got in from work, but by the time dinner reached the table I couldn't keep my eyes open and had to retreat to Bedminster. Hopefully that took care of the jetlag.
Our first real expedition of the trip was to visit our friends Chris and Rowie in the Cotswolds. OK, actually not quite the Cotswolds, but everyone laughs at me when I enthusiastically mention Swindon. We visited Cirencester, an historic Roman town. We visited exactly none of the attractions from the Roman period, because it was Sunday and everything was closed. Really the most interesting thing we saw was St John's Parish church which was undergoing major renovation. In the afternoon we drove out to some smaller villages. Burford high street runs down a hill and is full of cute shops. We stopped in the country clothing store, where the only item we could afford was the possum fur willy warmers! In the sweet shop I found some adorable chocolate hedgehogs (they were also very yummy!). Kristal of course sought out the needlework shop...
Once it started getting dark we went back to the car and traveled to Lechlade for some local brews. The first pub we went into had just started their own range of microbrews, and although only one variety was yet available, it was delicious. The pub was very popular, and was definitely the authentic English pub experience, with open fires, agricultural implements stuck on every wall and a good crowd of locals enjoying fine ales.
The same could not be said of the next spot we chose. We were hoping to sample some of the beers from the Arkells brewery, which is big in that area. Unfortunately the pub we chose only had their basic beers on (not the seasonal ales we were hoping for), and they were absolutely disgusting! Up til now I don't think I've ever met a beer I didn't like. Sure, some have strong flavors that can be an acquired taste, but these ales smelled like vinegar and I was sure something must be wrong with them. I asked the barman (who by this point was tucking into a revolting chicken curry (the house specialty), but after a quick taste be assured me the 'musty' aroma was normal. None of us could stomach them and I was glad I chosen a cider.
On the way home we picked up a few bottles of the seasonal brews, a Christmas ale and an organic one which were both delicious.
The highlight of our trip to Swindon was definitely the food. On the first night we went round to the local fish and chip shop and picked up cod, chips, jumbo sausage, cornish pasty, mushy peas and garlic mayo. It was a huge feast, and for Kristal I think it was love a fist bite! It's definitely the best comfort food on a cold winter's night. Our second night there was bangers, mash and beans, to prove my point that sausages and baked beans in the UK are far superior to anything you can find stateside. Case closed.
Next time: I return to my university town, and we head into London for New Year's!