There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie


Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.
~Rumi


May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett


Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Place It All Began

In a recent post I mentioned that I was away from Oxford this spring, which meant Stuart had five weeks of running the B&B without me.  We try to bring in extra help but it never quite works out how we hope, so Stuart takes over as head gardener, cleaning supervisor, office manager, head cook, and handyman. While I was languishing on a sail boat and dancing at a wedding, he was putting up with extra work and eating ready meals, or many evenings being served what we'll fondly remember as 'old-lady vegetarian food' by our well-meaning helper. Stuart suffered in silence but let's say, even though we both normally love vegetarian food, it will be a very long, long time before he'll be able to face rice and beans again.

The Bibury Court Hotel
June 12, 2014
But ready meals, and rice and beans aside, Stuart did an amazing job of coping with my absence and kept everything running smoothly. Once I was home though, I took one look at him and knew what he needed, beside a good meal. Even though my bags were barely unpacked, Stuart was ready for some time out of Oxford, and at least one night away. Luckily we live only a half an hour away from the perfect get-away spot in the Cotswolds, the Bibury Court Hotel, and within 48 hours of my return home our get-away was booked.

Arlington Row, Bibury
Getting out of Oxford and away from our businesses takes a lot of strategic planning--escaping phone calls, emails, bookings, laundry, and room change-overs is no mean feat. An early morning escape usually isn't possible, and we didn't roll out of Oxford until about 1:30pm, but once we headed west on the A40 we felt like we were leaving it all behind. After a quick stop at the Burford Garden Centre we wound our way to the village of Bibury and the Bibury Court Hotel.



We were lucky to get a corner room which looked out on one side to the River Coln and the hotel gardens, and to the other side more hotel garden and the churchyard.  Max was ready to settle in right away but we had other ideas, quickly changing for an early evening walk.


We chose one of the circular walks and Max led the way, down the wide expanse of lawn, across the river, and up to a farmhouse.  Max was desperate for a paddle in the river, but I didn't think the hotel would appreciate muddy paw prints on the beautiful white duvet, when he invariably snuck up on the bed in the night.



Cotswold scenes immediately unfolded as we walked.



A small, wooden footbridge
lined with impatiens and roses.






Houses and barns soon gave way to grassy tracks, sheep, and fields lit up by the setting sun.  (Max is the little black dot on the right side of the track.)

We finally circled back to the hotel and were ready for a cold drink and a hearty pub meal, which we found at the New Inn in Coln St. Aldwyn. We settled in, Stuart with his Hook Norton ale and me with my cider, Max curled up at our feet under the table, and ordered the hearty meal that would put Stuart to rights.  The pub was filled with friendly people enjoying a warm summer evening and dogs wandering in and out, saying hello to one another and checking on what people had ordered.



We lingered over Bailey's and coffee (me), and a fruit crumble (Stuart), and then made our way back to Bibury and the hotel, where we were met with the full moon streaming into our window.



The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast, that we didn't cook (!), and a stroll through the gardens before winding our way back home.  The drive back into Oxford came far too soon but just the one night away was enough to set the world to rights for Stuart and close the gap of my five weeks away. We drove back promising we'd return very soon to the place we first fell in love, the Cotswolds--and knowing us, it will probably be next week.



















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