Having friends spread all around the country can feel a little lonely sometimes, especially when you long for a few friends close by that you can pop over and have a natter and eat cake with. But as much as I’d love to have my best friends live that little bit closer, it comes a close second being able to plan wonderful weekends away where you load up the car with wellies, coats, an excited dog and a boyfriend who can’t decide quite how many bottles of Badger ales to take with him, and hit the road.
My lovely friend Becki currently lives in the Cotswolds with her fiancé Joe, and kindly invited Tom and I to stay with them last weekend. They only moved there fairly recently, so we hadn’t actually been to stay at that house before, and I was not prepared for quite how much I’d fall in love with where they live.
The sat nav took us through winding country roads, past farms and open fields, when we finally arrived at their front door in Gloucestershire. Rolling up to their driveaway, we were greeted by their dog, Bu (a whippet), who Bodhi enjoyed a very excitable reunion with whilst we unloaded our bags.
We were welcomed into their cosy kitchen – their Aga making the whole room indescribably toasty. Bodhi immediately climbed into Bu’s dog bed next to the Aga whilst we gossiped over tea and planned our weekend. We spent the afternoon drinking ciders and ales in a lovely little pub in Cricklade and then headed back to their house for dinner. The evening was similarly relaxing – spent eating good food, drinking margheritas and scoffing chocolate by the fire. Perfection. That night we slept soundly in their spare room, the windows open, listening to the sound of pheasants crowing outside.
The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely brunch of poached eggs, spinach and sourdough bread, before pulling on wellies and coats for a bracing dog walk.
This is their dog, Bu, waiting excitedly by the front gate. Bu is short for Mbuzi, which is swahili for goat.
We set off through the muddy fields, the dogs galloping through the dirt and us following closely behind. Checked shirts were clearly the outfit du jour for the boys! I bought Tom’s from Primark a couple of weeks ago, it is fleece lined and looks so cosy.
I discovered on this trip that I have a bit of a thing for gates. Rusty old gates, rustic wooden gates, gates that open into expanses of field, or that hold the promise of a winding footpath beyond…
Tom spent some time collecting conkers. I adore conkers – the smell, the texture, the way the Autumn light glints off them. They’re like hidden treasures tucked under leaves and in the undergrowth, waiting to be found.
My wellies got stuck in a bog, which Tom found very amusing. We strode down, and up, hills, and found another rather charming gate…
… which led down another rather boggy and muddy path…
Bodhi didn’t mind a bit getting absolutely caked in mud however, or having a roll around in the cool grass whilst the humans were taking their time climbing the hill.
We headed back up to the road with thoughts of a roast dinner filling our minds. We had to climb over – guess what… another gate – to find our way back.
When we got back to the house, Becki showed off her little vegetable patch and picked a courgette whilst the chickens clucked around the garden and I secretly wished for a life full of open fires, chickens and vegetable patches!
But after all that walking, there was one thing, and one thing on the agenda – a roast dinner in a country pub. With an open fire. And an impressive cider menu. Okay, okay, there were three things on the agenda. But luckily we managed to find them all in The Wild Duck at Ewen.
It was very busy when we entered the bar, with lots of people crowding around and waiting for tables. Despite this, this little pup had an armchair all to himself…
The pub was the perfect, cosy little countryside bolthole, with hops hanging on the wall, the fire crackling away, dogs snoozing under tables and the smell of roast dinners wafting round every corner.
We ordered four roast beefs, and they didn’t disappoint.
Crispy roast potatoes that required extensive sawing to access the fluffy potato within, humougous Yorkshire puddings, tender beef and a good slosh of gravy.
With full bellies, Tom and I headed home to Dorset, with a sleepy Bodhi at our feet, and our own dreams of wood burning stoves and planting vegetables. Sadly the Cotswolds are too far from the sea for Tom to consider living there but it truly was the perfect weekend away, and I can’t wait to go back.