My most vivid memory of Joe Wright’s 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice was my high school English teacher hating it, and adamantly insisting that the Bennet girls are noble ladies and that the 2005 adaptation failed to communicate that most grievously with their anachronistic directing choices. I – however – have always been partial to the adaptation, which was 20% because of Keira Knightley’s face and 80% that cinematography.
The gallivant around the English countryside (its official name on our travel itinerary) in mid-summer turned out to be quite a lot less green than I expected and much warmer due to the heat wave (thanks global warming!). Many of these picturesque small towns managed to remind me of ‘holiday towns’ along the Central Coast of Australia without the beach component - the sort of place retired wealthy people would go to get out of the city for the summer and spend leisurely days just having tea in their homes and buying expensive homewares from the stores in town. Not being a rich English retiree and with no suitcase for expensive garden gnomes, I don’t really have much to say about ‘things to do’ other than to recommend any artisan cheese shops you may come across and encourage you to walk thoroughly around town.
I also highly recommend the country walks — we did a 3hr walking route through Upper and Lower Slaughter from Bourton on the Water (pictured above), through fields and giant estates in the distance and refreshingly shaded areas by the creeks and small brooks. Here are some of the routes for the Cotswolds. Some of the routes are a little hidden through tall grass but they do exist and you can find even find the routes on Google Maps if you’re lost.
No empire dresses and Mr Darcy, alas, but certainly an ‘English countryside’ experience like no other.
Towns in the Cotswolds region had some of the most bizarre, quaint and amusing names, it’s an adventure in itself. We ended up taking several day trips from our base in Cheltenham, using the ten pound one-day bus ticket. This works for Chipping Campden and everything on that particular bus line (even though we spent up to 2hrs one-way for somewhere like Bourton on the Water), but less well for places further away so make sure you plan the route properly. Many of the buses stopped running early in the evening, which we discovered the hard way returning from Stratford Upon Avon – we ended up having to transfer to Birmingham and was nearly forced to shell out £70 each for a last minute 40min train journey on the National Rail (huge protip: it’s much cheaper – albeit still a good £20-£30 when bought online).
If I were to do it again, I’d definitely recommend hiring and car and driving, and I’d definitely recommend Bourton on the Water and Chipping Campden over Stratford Upon Avon (unless you are a huge Shakespeare buff) as they’re less tourist-y.