As it snows outdoors, I’m reminiscing about sweet, sunny August in western Oxfordshire.
The beautiful old cottages in this part of England’s Cotswolds are lovely beyond belief. A stroll through its villages takes you back in time to the 11th and 12th centuries.
My favorite for cottage-spotting in this area is Old Minster Lovell, a picturesque, one-road village along the River Windrush. (Could there be a more poetic name for a river?)
Half-timbers and thatched roofs greet you as soon as soon as you cross the one-way bridge. My husband and I found a parking space near the parish church on a sunny day and walked down the lane snapping photos of hollyhocks and roses.
We put in our name for a lunch reservation at the Old Swan Inn. With an hour to explore before we ate, we walked the footpath up to Minster Lovell Hall, a ruined, 15th-century manor house that’s right by the river.
Remnants of towers and arched windows made a pretty setting amid the lush grasses and trees. On this Sunday afternoon, families with young children picnicked on the lawns among the ruins.
Teens kicked soccer balls to one another. I just couldn’t imagine a better place for relaxing and drinking in the beauty of the Oxfordshire countryside.
After our exploration, we enjoyed a lunch of potato-leek soup and delicious goat-cheese salads. The Old Swan has been around for more than 500 years, but this gastro-pub has a 21st-century kitchen that serves seasonal, local ingredients creatively combined for full flavor.
The pub’s interior was as charming as its ivy-covered stone exterior: its Old-World half-timbers, cockeyed windows, and stone walls made me feel every century of its heritage.
Though the meal was fantastic, what I will always remember about Old Minster Lovell is its cottages—and dreaming of what it would be like to live in one of them.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor
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