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No, the Cotswolds could in no way be considered part of the West Country, but nevertheless we stopped there on the same trip, a halfway point between Preston and Cornwall. Night had fallen by the time we pulled off of the motorway, and traced our route down A roads until we reached The Rectory Hotel in the village of Crudwell. The church next door rang the hours late into the evening as we lingered over our first dinner of the trip. Crudwell is a commuter town - it has three hotels and, as far as we could determine, no useful shops whatsoever.

The next morning, we drove deeper into the Cotswolds, choosing our destinations for convenience, for whim, and for guide book recommendations. This brought us first to the lovely village of Quenington, where the church of St. Swithin lies in the bend of the road near the banks of the tamely murmuring Coln. Four pheasants strolled daintily through the vegetable garden next door before taking fright. The lure of Quenington is the church doors there; not even the church itself, which was just as well, since the church was locked. The north and south doors are framed by impressively well-preserved Norman arches, one Harrowing of Hell and one Coronation of the Virgin. Porches guarded against active rain damage.

Fairford is a full-fledged town, for it had a substantial complement of useful shops and a free town-owned parking lot. Fairford prospered as a wool town in the Middle Ages, and the riches which came with it went, in part, to the building and ornamentation of the church of St. Mary's, which today apparently has the largest surviving set of medieval stained glass windows. They certainly are an impressive set, nearly complete, with the exception of some damage done to a few by a eighteenth-century windstorm. Above, the Bible's bad guys stared down, each attended by their own personal demon in the tracery above them. Below, there were a handful of vignettes, beginning with Eve, but far more full-length portraits of Biblical heavyweights. The helpful woman minding the church had binoculars we could use, which I did, perplexed by the mechanical-looking object in a saint's hand up in the lower register's tracery. It was a pair of pincers, with large tooth hovering mystically above them, in the hands of St. Apollonia.

We ate lunch at a delightful café called 7a Coffee Shop and Café, just across the street from the highly-rated restaurant Allium. 7a not only offered good freshly made sandwiches (I had a pesto chicken and parmesan toasted panino) and interesting drinks, but has a daily brownie menu! That day it featured seven brownie variants, ranging from chocolate chunk to mint Aero, but I was trying hard not to kill my appetite for dinner, and so didn't indulge.

On our way back to the car and our southbound voyage, we ran into the helpful woman from the church who smiled and nodded to us in recognition. It was almost like instantly becoming a local.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)

Please, sweet Lord! Let it be a trendsetter!
Jan. 17th, 2007 12:28 pm (UTC)
wish i could go there...
that was a delicious recap of your travels...and wonderful treat to find after having not visited lj in eons! how did you ever resist the brownies, idve bought one of each but then thats why im always broke! anyway, im mainly posting b/c i want to see if it will be possible for us to meet up when i am in london for less than 24 hours next weekend (27-28 january)? i know you can at least steer me to some good food there!
Jan. 17th, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
Re: wish i could go there...
I resisted the brownies because I was eating too much on that trip anyways. We prebooked nearly all our dinners at places recommended by The Good Food Guide to Restaurants and so had several exceedingly large meals along the way, on top of extensive cooked breakfasts included in our room rates. After a full cooked breakfast that morning and knowing there was a large dinner that night, I didn't have much appetite for lunch.

Of course we can meet up! I misplaced your email in the post-trip flurry of Too Many Emails, but shall find it and write back immediately.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )