The third day we decided to take the walk from our cottage through the National Trust buildings in the tiny town of Buscot next to us. There are one or two buildings not owned by the Trust but most are. We left the cottage and were wished “good morning” by the raucous cawing of the rooks. It sprinkled rain on the walk but it wasn’t too bad. There is a beautiful church at the end of the village which has had a place of worship since the 1200s and maybe longer. It is a place that exudes a sense of peace. I sometimes wonder if places on this earth are preternaturally spiritual and that’s why places of worship naturally gravitate to them over the millennia.
After our walk we drove into Lechlade, the next town from us, only a couple of miles. I wanted to explore the village. It is a lovely place as so many of these villages are but not so beautiful that it is overrun by tourists. Lots of little shops. A very pretty 12th century church essentially unchanged since it was built except for a new roof when the first one burned. This lets the church retain its symmetry which is not the norm in British churches. We ran into an eccentric man wearing a hat adorned with many pins and ornaments walking his little Jack Russel named Elsie. He was pleasantly plump and rumpled. I complemented him on his hat and he was very pleased. We petted Elsie who was dumped by some idiot and he rescued her. I enjoyed meeting him and even more, I enjoyed talking to him. I really miss that in Italy. I seldom can ask the questions in Italian that come to my mind when meeting people.
We stopped into a shop called Cutler and Bayliss – Butcher and Greengrocer. We cursed ourselves for shopping at at Sainburys yesterday. This place had beautiful meats and poultry and also cheeses and veggies. Everything for a lovely dinner. We decided to go back Saturday for our last dinner ingredients. We also spied a cheese we’d heard much about called Stinking Bishop. My sister will recognize this and tell her husband Bill because it was in Wallace and Grommet that we heard of it and he’s a big fan. We bought a small slice and it certainly lives up to its name!
We next drove to Burford. This is another pretty village that HAS been discovered by tourists. It has a street of shops and we had lunch in a pub there. We drove back to Buscot and decided to relax for the afternoon. I took some photos of the nearby Thames. There is a walking path that goes to Oxford many miles away. There are lots of narrow boats that navigate the river and it is on a side spur where they negotiate the lock near our cottage.
This is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough since the 1700s. A magnificent place. Huge. Acres and acres of landscaped gardens, lakes and fields. We paid the princely sum of £40 for the two of us to go in. It was drizzling and quite cool with a stiff breeze. We walked the fairly long distance from the car park to the palace. Once inside your ticket gets you into the Churchill galleries, the gardens and access to the guided tour. We skipped the gardens because of the rain. Extra tours cost extra money, for example, the upstairs-downstairs tour which I thought would be interesting. The Churchill galleries showed the lineage of the Dukes and how Churchill fit into that. It gave a pretty detailed story of his birth and childhood and formative years. He was mostly raised by a nanny and his Grandmother as his parents were busy with their own lives not to include their children. The rooms went through the courtship of his wife, his military service, the onset of WWII and his becoming Prime Minister and the war years, and finally his death. It even had a gallery of his paintings, some of which I thought were quite good.
We joined the guided tour through the apartments, salons, library etc. Tons of significant art, tapestries depicting the first Dukes wars and subsequent Dukes and their wars. They are on their tenth Duke now I think. The family still has apartments in the Palace.
At the end we were regaled by an old gentleman playing the magnificent pipe organ in the library. We finally ducked out on him. I think he could have talked for hours!
We tried to find some pubs that had been recommended by our friend but the first town was so jammed we couldn’t park. And the second town we could not find at all. So we headed back to Burford and the Lamb Inn. We sat in front of the crackling fire and had a nice lunch. We ate in for dinner and had a fire to warm the drizzly cold afternoon and evening.