The brilliant Carolyn of The Slow Traveler came to experience some stunning country houses, great pubs with excellent food and spend some chilled time in the countryside with her husband and her dog. 

1. What was your favourite piece at Buscot Park?

I liked a very odd painting by Reynolds called 'Mercury as a Cut Purse'. It's a little pick-pocket boy dressed as the god of financial gain, which is a pretty terrible disguise for a purse thief. It was amazing to see a Rembrandt up close, and quite unique to see it in the living room of a family home, family photos on the mantelpiece. But, my favourite, I got really obsessed with Rossetti's portrait of Jane Morris, almost as obsessed as the artist was with his subject, William Morris's wife!

2. If you were recommending somewhere to stay near Clanfield where would you suggest?

Honestly? I would say go to Double Red Duke – ideally in snowy weather, like I did – and don't leave! Hunker down in the snug with a book and some boardgames, a coffee, or something stronger. Maybe watch a film and have a nap in your room. Then get yourself in the bar for dinner and a good few nightcaps. It's some of the best food I've ever had, sourdough with lardo, apple-glazed bacon ribs, wood-fired scallops… But, if you insist on leaving, like our dog Lenny did, then there are plenty of lovely country walks right from the door.

3. Was Coleshill all you thought it would be and how long can you spend there?

Definitely. We had a nice leisurely afternoon there, but the history of the place is so dense and so incredible you could spend a lifetime looking into it. I really enjoyed hearing about the secret army of wartime saboteurs that were based on the grounds – underground to be precise! There's a lovely cafe, a little secondhand bookshop, and plenty of pretty Cotswolds countryside for Lenny to run about in. I was really excited to learn the Beatles producer George Martin lived here, and even more excited to learn Jason Donovan lives here!

4. What foods would you say you associate with the Cotswolds and did you enjoy the food at The Plough?

For me, when I've been out exploring all day, I'm fancying really good, really comforting pub food, ideally with a couple of glasses of wine either side. Thrown in a wood fire and that's me happy as can be. The Plough Inn has all those things. I had a nice long walk up the Oxfordshire Thames before settling into the corner table with Lenny curled up in front of the fire, while the pub's regulars told very funny, very unrepeatable stories in their big round yawning ooh-aar accents. It's a proper, traditional country pub, with a great, friendly landlord. Hello, Will!

5. What is the most interesting fact you remember about Kelmscott?

I came across a great quote by William Morris, who lived there with his wife Jane and Rosetti – they had a fascinating love-triangle thing going on. "The true secret of happiness," Morris said, "lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life." Kelmscott is beautifully detailed – the wallpapers, the textiles, the views. But I think taking an interest in the details of daily life is a good tip for anybody visiting the Cotswolds. These details only reveal themselves, I think, when you slow down and make time.




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