The hill path to Broadway Tower is a lot steeper than it looks on Google Maps.
Neither I or Mrs B are ever likely to be described as ‘outdoorsy’ (unless you count sitting on the decking at home) but as we had no buggy with us for the first time in years it seemed rude not to throw caution out with the wet wipes, leave the tea shops of Broadway behind us and stride off along the Cotswold Way.
But as I turned to look back and saw the sun-soaked fields between rumpled woodlands I had to take a breath and drink it in and make a mental note of the fact that no one was saying ‘Why Daddy?’ or crying for their jangle giraffe.
Mrs B says she thought I looked ‘wistful’; but I was actually in shock.
I bloomin 💛 the Cotswolds. We lucked out with the weather, got sunburnt, chatted to baby lambs and climbed a very very steep hill. In inappropriate footwear. Obviously. We chatted about leaving London, ditching jobs, opening shops, village life… and then decided it might be a bit too peaceful 😬. Must be home time! #minibreak #cotswolds #spotthetownies #escapetothecountry #stoweonthewold #hometime
The previous morning as many people trudged back to work we’d cheekily extended the Easter bank holiday and headed off for two nights at The Old Stocks Inn in Stow-On-The-Wold, leaving the children I affectionately refer to as The Dangerous Brothers at their Grandpa’s house.
We’d been to The O/S in November and liked it so much we booked in again for our fifth wedding anniversary; as you can see it shouts ‘special occasion’.
The atmosphere is very relaxed and the staff are super friendly from the moment you arrive. The Inn is very old indeed, most of the building dating from the 17th century, but unlike some places that either lean heavily on the past or rip it all out and start again the Old Stocks has managed to retain the character (beams and wonky stairs) within a thoroughly modern and understated interior. Someone else can tell you what the colour palette is but I will stick to showing you photos of the room.
We were in room 21 which is one of their ‘Amazing Great Rooms’ (well it was our wedding anniversary after all) which comes with a gorgeous en suite and a FREE MINI BAR!
The room is at the top so not one to go for if you’re tall but we are hobbits so the low beams didn’t bother us. You can peep out onto the goings on in the market square through the attic windows and there is no one above so no footsteps and voices to disturb you.
Downstairs is a bar serving local ales from the Purity Brewery which I sampled while sitting in the small but perfectly decked out garden, steadfastly ignoring the April chill (however I am northern so anywhere south of the Humber is like the Med). I spied a pizza oven and I think we will definitely be back for a summer visit to take advantage.
Breakfast is served in the front restaurant, where we found a generous help yourself buffet of sourdough, cereals, yoghurt, pastries, and fruit. Don’t tuck in too heartily however as you will then be choosing a cooked option as well! I went for the full English on the first morning but opted for a lighter scrambled eggs with smoked salmon the following day; both equally delicious.
On our full day off from being parents (a whole day!) after climbing the aforementioned hill I collapsed on the bed to read London Orbital by Iain Sinclair. It’s only taken me fifteen years to get round to buying it. Visualising him picnicking under a bridge by the motorway ‘encircling London like a noose’ made my position on a king size bed in a quiet country inn seem all the more pleasant.
Mrs B was off to her favourite local shop Meggies, purveyor of ‘lovely local things’ (a few of which followed her back in a bag) and we also had yummy sandwiches for lunch from Cotswold Baguettes – a charming shop that we were delighted to discover was NOT A CHAIN and was about to move into bigger premises over the road so do pay them a visit if you’re in Stow.
In the evening, after I’d sunk that pint in the garden, we sampled the Old Stocks menu. Mrs B told me that the head chef had recently been on Masterchef: the professionals, so I got excited and my expectations were realised. My starter of gin-cured salmon with citrus and creme fraiche was a delicate collision of flavours that was over too soon. I needed a hearty main after our hill climb so it had to be steak, perfectly cooked, with a side of parmesan truffle fries. I’d never had these before we visited the Old Stocks and i can tell you they are frighteningly addictive; chips will never be the same again.
As is always the way with a mini-break we were soon on our way back down the A44 to rescue the grandparents from our brood. But as ever after a time apart we were missing their grubby hands and smelly bums. All we need to do now is book in our autumn break to celebrate twenty years since we met on Brighton Beach. Yes, twenty. Now, how do you get into Soho Farmhouse…