What I Did On My Winter Vacation

Travel planning has begun . . .

I had a very good time during my break doing some travel planning . . . for fun. I focused on a return to England, to the Cotswolds again, and sort of put together an itinerary, then looked for lodging, tours, and other things Brett and I would like to include on our next visit. I absolutely love travel planning, so this was a very enjoyable and relaxing way to spend (waste?) my time for several days.

We hope to do another three month stay in 2023, this time from August through October. Our last visit was September through November, and while September was lovely, by November we were pretty much confined to our cottage and unable to get out much for walks and such because of the weather. We think moving things forward by a month we’ll be able to enjoy better weather while still getting to enjoy the best of summer and fall.

YaYu and I spent an enjoyable amount of time last week pouring over the Character Cottages website, looking for an ideal cottage for our stay. Character Cottages is a booking agent for a large group of cottages in the Cotswolds (not property managers though); even if you find a cottage on another site, its rental is often still handled through Character Cottages. They have properties in many villages, and rentals in all sizes and price ranges. The cottages each have at least one of what the firm calls a “character feature,” which could be anything from the architecture to a stone fireplace or inglenook in the living room. 

Choosing a location took some time, but after some discussion Brett and I decided we’d like to return to Blockley or very nearby, for a variety of reasons, most especially location and familiarity. YaYu and I did most of our searching among those properties. Must-haves included two bedrooms (all three of the girls have said if we go back to England they are coming to visit); a full kitchen with a dishwasher; a washer/dryer; and convenient parking as we plan to rent a car on our next visit. I also wanted a gas fireplace (easy to turn on and off, and they do a better job of warming a room). In the end we came up with three potential cottages that had everything we wanted this time, at prices we felt we could afford. I’m not going to order them, because we like all three, but one is our top choice. I would love to know how you would rank these (you can click on the link under the picture for more information)!

 

Primrose Cottage

Brook Cottage

Green Cottage

Although we did used public transportation during our last visit and managed well with that, we decided we’d rather have a car this next time, so I also investigated long-term car rentals. At first we thought we’d get ourselves to Oxford from either Heathrow or Gatwick (preferred) to save some money, but eventually figured out that logistically and cost-wise, it made more sense to pick up a car at either one of those airports and drive the little over two and a half hours to our destination. This is what we did in New Zealand, and it worked out well. We can reserve a rental through Costco at either airport.

Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the stops on the tours. We missed getting to visit here back in 2019.

Finally, Brett and I still want to do a long hike while we are there, and initially thought we would fit in a Cotswold Way walking tour into our stay. One evening when I was canoodling around though, I discovered this Cotswold Cooking & Culinary tour, and after doing a bit more investigation and sharing with Brett, we decided we’d rather do this! So, somewhere in the middle of our stay, we want to hit the trail (footpath) and eat our way through the region for eight days (hopefully walking off the calories).

Since this trip is currently over two and half years away, all I did this time was take notes, and get a general idea of how much we’ll have to save (including airfare) to make this dream a reality. None of it may come to fruition in the end (cottages not available, hosts might not want to do a long-term rental, etc.) But, the planning was a whole lot of fun, I learned a lot, and we more definite than ever about returning to England in 2023!

11 thoughts on “What I Did On My Winter Vacation

  1. Fingers crossed that I will be able to visit Great Britain this coming October for three weeks! I’ll be in and around Portsmouth for the first week, and then wind my way up into Scotland. And hoping to get over to Wales too, but my maternal grandmother immigrated from Scotland, and I want to explore my ancestral lands!

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    1. I’ve got my fingers crossed on both hands – toes too! October was a wonderful month to be in the UK – you’ll have a great time.

      We are so hoping we can go back again. I recently learned where my great grandmother came from, the village of Turnditch in Derbyshire. I would like to go there and see if there are any connections left. My maternal grandmother’s family is from Scotland, from the MacDonald clan. I need to do the research and find out more about that part of my family.

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    1. They are great, but it was hard to pick them out of all the lovely cottages on the site. We are very determined to go back there again – so much we want to do again, and so much we didn’t get to do the last time.

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  2. They all look lovely. I would SO like to get back to England sooner than later, but we’ll just have to see how this all plays out. The Green Cottage has the same appliances as my DD’s home, so I had a nice memory of my stay looking at that kitchen. 🙂

    Planning is so much fun…I need to do a little of that myself just for entertainment at this point. January is soooo long and dark – although we have sunshine today. Woot!

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    1. I hear ya, Laurel. Things right now don’t look good, but in the meantime we’ll keep saving so when we can finally go we’ll be ready. P.S. The Green Cottage (in Broad Campden) is our favorite. The only fear we have is that so many of these places don’t allow long-term rentals, but hopefully it’s possible to work something out with the owners.

      I love planning, but for me it’s purely entertainment right now and will be for most of this year. The only solid thing we’re intending to do this year is reserve our hotel and car for YaYu’s graduation next year – hopefully we will be able to go to that. We’re still so sad about not being able to attend WenYu’s last year.

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  3. I love Primrose and Green cottages. Great picks.

    I agree with needing a car. So easier in rural areas. I will confidently drive in the UK, but after the horror of driving on the wrong side of the road in France, we will never drive on the wrong side ourselves again.

    We’ve postponed our year off and hope vaccines will make it possible for us to travel in 2022. I have stopped planning as who knows. We don’t even have flights out of the country yet.

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    1. My biggest fear with those cottages is that they won’t allow a long-term rental – so many don’t. Also, that they won’t be willing to trim their rates if they do allow long term – we’ve seen some that are asking nearly US$15,000 for three months – ouch! We get into the weeds as we get closer and are sure we can get over there.

      First big trip (fingers crossed) will be Japan again in 2022. We should all be vaccinated by then and have a better handle on how to handle things. We’ll also be visiting the mainland earlier in 2022 for our daughters’ graduation – looking forward to that as well.

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