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November 19, 2011 / annakpf11

British Blog—Oxford and Cotswolds Road Trip


“Fog in the morning here
will make some of the world far away

Excerpted from “Where We Are” by William Stafford (1914-1993)

Oxford, early Saturday morning. Mist-softened streets.

It’s Dave’s birthday. He sends me a wistful glance. Does he wish he could go back in time? Enroll in the university; attend lectures, argue with professors, make lifelong friends among his peers? Of course he does. So do I!

But the look on his face might have more to do with a longing for croissants from a certain café than for the hallowed halls of learning. Truth be told, we have an ulterior motive for this visit to Oxford, and it has more to do with satisfying our bellies than our brains. The fog lifts, weekend shoppers invade the sidewalks, and we duck into the famous Patisserie Valerie for buttery pillows of puff pastry and double espressos. Thus fortified, we quit Oxford for Blenheim.

After a thick slice of history and a tour of the palace and grounds, we wander into the nearby village of Woodstock.

Patisserie Valerie’s croissants are by now a distant memory, and so we enjoy an excellent light lunch at The Star Inn.

We cannot depart the area without a pilgrimage to Winston Churchill’s grave.

Just outside the town of Stow-on-the-Wold, we spend the night at Mole End Bed and Breakfast, a comfortable home built of honey-colored Cotswoldian stone and tended by solicitous hosts.

Our large room—plenty of floor-space for yoga!—is spotless and well-appointed. In the morning, a full English breakfast is served in the dining room with a view through French doors to the garden and a paddock where two mares graze.

And then we’re on the road again, zig-zagging across the countryside on narrow lanes lined with stone fences and hedgerows, from one impossibly charming village to the next.

Castle Coombe is our destination Sunday night, yet another “ridiculously cute town,” says Dave.

We’ve reserved a room at the recently refurbished Castle Inn and find it unexpectedly luxurious—and reasonably priced.

While strolling the village before dinner, Dave finds a car he likes as much as the Audi.

Our road trip ends Monday morning in High Wycombe at the office where Dave works. He gives me a tour of the place, introduces me to some of the bright, friendly people he’s been working with, and then I hop a local bus and ride home to Great Missenden. Hard to believe our time in the UK is already half over.

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