The thing I love best about England is just how close everything is. Jump in the car, or on a train, and you can be in a completely different place within the hour. Sometimes I’m in need of big city vibrancy, bustle and buzz. Other times, I prefer to take the back roads to find space, open skies and the quiet expanse of England’s rolling countryside. On this occasion, I needed the latter.
I decided to head to the Cotswolds. I had a quick search online to see where would be best to spend an afternoon and I stumbled upon the charming village of Bibury. I love the Cotswolds for its stone cottages, meandering lanes and endless greenery. As Bibury seemed to tick all three of those boxes, I was sold.
In just over an hour, I was there and ready to wander. I took my camera from my bag, turned it on… and nothing happened. The battery was dead. Thankfully, I had managed to convince Sam to come with me and he had his Lumix DSLR with him. I smiled sweetly and he agreed to pass over his prized possession into the hands of a very novice photographer. I’ve only ever owned a point and shoot, so the Lumix was a scary piece of equipment. Much to Sam’s dismay, immediately put it on auto and happily snapped away for the rest of the afternoon. Oh, the things we do for love.
Bibury is set on the banks of the River Coln and is centred around a large water meadow called Rack Isle. The peculiar name is due to its previous usage as the place where locals would dry their wool on racks after washing it in the river. It is now a National Trust reserve and is home to numerous water loving flora and fauna; such as the marsh orchid and water vole. Much to my disappointment, I did not spy any voles. They must have been sleeping.
To one side of Rack Isle lies Arlington Row – a row of cottages so quintessentially English that they have become one of the most highly photographed landmarks in the Cotswolds. I’m sure their presence played a huge part in convincing nineteenth century artist William Morris that Bibury was “the most beautiful village in England”. He sure wasn’t wrong! The cottages were originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. However, they were converted into weaver’s cottages during the seventeenth century.
Having spent the day wandering through fields, along stone wall lined lanes and feeding the ducks, we then happened upon another of Bibury’s treasures: one of the oldest trout farms in England. Each year, Bibury Trout Farm spawns millions of Rainbow and Brown Trout. However, only a third of these are destined for the plate. The rest are used to replenish the country’s streams and rivers. The farm’s adjoining cafe offered a variety of trout specialities. Sam and I quickly decided that it was the place to stop for a very late lunch. I’m so glad we did – my trout and dill jacket potato was divine. With suitably full bellies, we headed back to the car. A perfect ending to a gloriously grey spring day.
I’m glad to report that the auto focus setting on the Lumix didn’t let me down. May be next time I’ll be able to more confidently play around with some manual settings!