If I were still living in London, it’s about now on a Thursday that I’d start dreaming of escaping the Big Smoke for the weekend… Why I never did, I’ll never know, because there are so many wonderful places within easy reach by train, my all-time favourite mode of transport. So here’s an idea for this Saturday for all you townies…
First, jump on the 10:21 train from London Paddington heading to Hereford & Worcester, leaving the train at 11:59 in Moreton-in-Marsh, the only Cotswold town on a mainline train station. Stroll into the heart of town and down the High Street to the Manor House Hotel at the far end of town; the winner of this year’s Condé Nast Johansens Award for Most Outstanding Service, the prix fixe menu is a steal at £14.50 for two courses including a glass of wine.
Well-fed, walk off lunch by wandering around Old Town to admire the quaint and, sometimes quite grand, 17th- and 18th-century houses close to St. David’s Church, including St. David’s House, which has a Cotswold stone roof with moulded stone eaves cornice, stone pilasters, and a doorway and windows with moulded architraves and triple keystones. Or, if you want more of a country walk, take the public footpath that starts at the top of Corder’s Lane and leads across the fields to Batsford Arboretum, home to gorgeous maples and a lovely terrace cafe – you’ll be in need of tea and cake by the time you get there!
Alternatively, stay on the High Street, dipping in and out of art galleries, antiques arcades and speciality shops, such as The Cotswold Cheese Company and Allium the florist & gift store (for more details, ready the Shop Cotswolds blog here, which is packed with tips for retail therapy). The one thing the blog doesn’t mention is the PopUp Moreton shop, which is open till Easter; the current tenants are selling goods under the “Vintage & Modern” banner, so there’s a chance to pick up a modern portrait commission of your family (from £70), 1930s-1950s posters & prints, and Georgian decanter boxes through antlers & candelabras to painted & distressed furniture from Flip Antiques.
Then, you might decide to have a cream tea at one of the many tea shops in town or even a glass of wine in the White Hart Royal, where Charles I is said to have stayed during the Civil War. If you stay a little longer, there’s an ASK Italian perfect for a quick bite to eat before heading back to London on the 20:43 train, which will get you back into the capital at 22:33, just in time for last orders!