Market Day

Stalls selling just about everything you can think of line the high street on Market Day in Moreton-in-Marsh – it reminded us of a giant flea market.

Every Tuesday is Market Day in Moreton-in-Marsh. Over 200 vendors set up stalls up and down the high street, and shoppers can find everything from vegetables to cheese to bedroom slippers to cookware to linens and beyond.

We did our marketing at Aldi.
Heading away from the open market in the direction of Aldi, the high street was practically deserted.

Although we were curious about the market, Brett and I had a different reason for visiting Moreton-in-Marsh this past Tuesday: we were running out of food and wanted to restock our fridge and pantry for the week at the Aldi store there. I also wanted to visit the Cotswold Cheese Company and get a small piece or two of some British cheese(s). So, we caught the local bus in Blockey over to Moreton-in-Marsh with plans to walk to Aldi which is less than 10 minutes away from the bus stop on foot.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived was that the town was filled with lots and lots and lots of

(Yes, there are even signs in town warning you to watch out for us)

Apparently, charter buses come from all over the countryside carrying retirees who want to shop at the Moreton-in-Marsh market, which is basically a giant flea market. We took one look at the market as we stepped off our bus, said “nope,” and turned the other direction and headed to Aldi.

Aldi shopping is still very new to us but it didn’t disappoint. We had felt just so-so about Aldi following our visit to the store in Strasbourg, but here I could have easily filled our trolley (cart) to the top with what we found. However, we restrained ourselves as we had brought only three shopping bags with us so that we didn’t overshop and get too much to fit into our tiny fridge. We shopped with a list but had loads of fun looking at everything else. The produce section was positively immense, and there was a huge selection of meats and other proteins as well as everything else you could think of (the store itself was massive). Our total spend came to £41.54, or $51.36, and if we can do that well every week with our food shopping we shouldn’t have any problem keeping our spending average at or below $35/day.

We got a LOT of food too for that $51 – those of you who are able to shop at Aldi are very, very fortunate. Below are all the items we purchased (minus a giant roll of paper towels):

Proteins: grated mozzarella, crustless quiche, chicken breast mini fillets, minted lamb burgers, half dozen eggs, and brie and manchego cheeses.
Vegetables: scallions, celery, a bag of organic carrots, two eggplants, tender stem broccoli, a cucumber, a package of Mediterranean vegetables for roasting, Asian stir-fry vegetables, and three onions.
Fruit: bananas, peaches, apples, figs, a package of raspberries, kiwi fruit, an avocado, and limes.
Miscellaneous: salted peanuts, 2 cans of whipped cream, porridge oats, tuna, green tea w/lemon, sweet & sour stir-fry sauce, butter, chocolate digestive biscuits, sticky toffee pudding (we had to), 2 jars of natural peanut butter, malt vinegar, pasta sauce, ground cinnamon, and curry powder

On the way back to the bus stop we stopped at the Cheese Company where sampled some cheeses and bought a small wedge of local Double Barrel Poacher cheese (very tasty!), and two small fruit cakes. We ended up waiting about 35 minutes for our bus back to Blockley, surrounded the whole time by crowds of retirees waiting for their giant charter buses to pick them up and whisk them out of town. A woman did come up to me to tell me she loved my accent!

I had always despised fruit cake, but I’ve sort of fallen in love with the ones here in England.

There is lots to see in Moreton-in-Marsh, and we are looking forward to returning for some more exploration, but we’ll skip Market Day next time.

There are lots of interesting things to see in Moreton-in-Marsh, but we’ll go back when the town isn’t crowded with market shoppers and giant buses.

First Walks Through Blockley

In the book I read this past summer about the Cotswolds (Slow Cotswolds: Including Bath, Stratford-on-Avon & Oxford by Caroline Mills), the author described Blockley as one of the best examples of a Cotswold village, from its variety of buildings to its church to the landscapes surrounding the village. Brett and I took two walks through the village (about two miles each) in two different directions last week to begin to get to know our home base for the next three months.

Looking out over Churchill Close, the town green, to hills and pastures for both cows and sheep. The dry-stone wall topped with stones set on their sides surrounds the common.
The cars on the street contrast with the massive size of this old elm tree in Churchill Close.
The Northwick Bowling Club sits in the center of Churchill Close, in the center of the village.
Many of the graves in the Blockley Church cemetery are hundreds of years old, and the stone worn to where nothing can be read. It’s not a museum though – newer, more recent graves exist as well.
The original church is Norman, built in 1180, and the bell tower at St. Peter and St. Paul Church was added in 1725. The bells are rung throughout the day, and on Thursday evening we had a nearly hour-long concert.
Blockley Church is open to the public and was far less austere inside than we imagined, with beautiful stained glass windows, statuary, and memorials to past residents of the area. The blue hymnals were a Christmas gift to the church in 2009. The light from the big windows (14th century) on the south side of the church light up the church nave during the day.
Down a winding lane off of the high street is the old mill, now converted into a private residence. The home includes quite a bit of protected land around it.
The Old Mill is adorned with several types of roses, and the scent was intoxicating as we walked by.
Slabbed wood on the gable of the Old Mill’s woodshed.
Blackberry vines along the roads were loaded with fruit, although the ripe berries we tried weren’t especially sweet. We’d love to go back and pick but are not sure whether the vines are on private property or not.
Brockley Brook runs through the town, although in some places it’s been covered over by roads.
Lower Terrace is a series of old connected apartment buildings built in 1851. They have been renovated and all look to be in use. I’m curious about what the low buildings between the larger apartment buildings were used for.
This house sported a (very accurate) sundial on the front of the house over the door.
What was formerly two attached homes has been converted into one large modern house. Yellow Cotswold stone (limestone) is a signature feature in the area as are stone or slate roofs.
Renovation of old buildings can be seen throughout the village. In some cases, an old house is torn down and the stone re-used to build a new house, but the yellow limestone is also still being quarried.
Another view of the hills from the Blockley Churchyard. From here it’s just a short distance to our cottage.

We have already fallen in love with our little village, with its “peaceful nature and beautiful buildings.” I know there are many other charming places in the Cotswolds, but I can’t think of a place I’d rather call home for the next few months.