Burford & Bourton in the Wolds

If you are in Bibury, you have to find your way to the delightful duo of Burford and Bourton-on-the-Water. I had written a post already on the town and village respectively but here’s a quick one on the knowhow of these two. The shots are of Burford from a year ago when I sported a short hairdo and went through life-without-long-mane-shedding-all-over-the-place moments. At one point, we dreamt of old age in Burford, of a future when we could buy a little cottage and go for long walks in the country followed by coffee and pottering around in the antique stores. It was actually quite wonderful to visualise it in our mind’s eye as my husband and I sat down at The Cotswolds Arms pub in Burford for lunch on a glorious and sunny summer’s day.

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You have to climb to the top of the hill in Burford and look down upon the row of limestone houses that descend in a straggly row.

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How to Get There: 

If you are not driving in the Cotswolds, wise up. Hired the car already? Then what are we waiting for. Burford is 20 miles west of Oxford and it sits on the crossroads of the A40 and A361. From London, it takes you about 1.5 hours to get to Burford. Parking is free in Burford, both in the riverside car park (OX18 4SE) and on the streets (though this kinda parking comes with time limitations). For coach and stagecoach services browse www.swanbrook.co.uk and www.stagecoachbus.com/oxfordshire/ for the timetables. Trains (www.nationalrail.co.ukwill bring you only till Oxford or Charlbury from where you have to figure out a coach or a cab to get to Burford. 

Where to Stay:

Traditional coaching inns pair well with the atmosphere of old English towns such as Burford. In the heart of town is Bull at Burford (www.bullatburford.co.uk), a coaching inn and brasserie where a small double room on bed & breakfast basis starts at £79.

If your pockets allow it, you can opt for a boutique country inn experience at The Lamb Inn (book through www.cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk). A ‘Good Double Room’ ranges between £150-£210. If you book early you can catch a ‘Very Good Double Room’ too for roughly £150. You are also paying here for the experience of staying within the walls of a 15th-century, former weaver’s cottage.

Where to Eat:

The Cotswolds Arms (www.cotswoldarms.co.uk) is one of our comfort lunch spots in Burford. It is a traditional 18th century pub with a good selection of ales and food – they even offer gluten free dining – and rates that will not rip your heart off.

Bull at Burford, the coaching inn from above, does some mean dishes. The rates are a bit more pricey than The Cotswolds Arms, but that said, they won’t leave you gasping either.

Mrs Bumbles (www.mrsbumbles.co.uk) deli for wonderful full-fat ice creams, cheese, chutneys and local Cacklebean eggs.

What to Do:

  • In Burford, look out for a Tudor building held up on stone pillars town’s museum. Medieval wool merchants used to meet up for trade at this spot called The Tolsey. Today it serves as the town museum.
  • The 15th century Parish Church of St John the Baptist is one of the churches built using money from the wool trade. I found a cute anecdote associated with its renovation when William Morris criticised the process and had the vicar responding with the words, “The church Sir is mine, and if I choose to I shall stand on my head in it‘.

  • You are within a half-hour driving distance of charming little villages and towns in the Cotswolds such as Bibury, Bourton-on-the-WaterUpper and Lower Slaughter, Stow-on-the-WoldOxford, Cheltenham and Broadway.


If you are staying at Burford and driving down to Bourton-on-the-Water, I would suggest pottering around the shops and the river Windrush. When you are done with that do not bother with the tourist to-do such as the perfumery or the museums, just head out for walks.

Where to Eat:

The Croft (www.chesterhousehotel.comis a restaurant with a view of the Windrush. You can have a spot of lunch here or just sit back for a relaxing tea-and-cake kinda evening.

Kingsbridge Pub (www.kingsbridgepub.co.uk) on the village green is a reasonable watering hole in the village where you do get a nice range of beers and ales. We always love a seat in its beautiful beer garden with a view of children and dogs splashing about in the shallow beds of the Windrush.

What to do:

  • Walk for 1.5  miles from Bourton-on-the-Water to Lower Slaughter (takes about 40 min). You can walk further up to Upper Slaughter through Lower Slaughter.
  • There’s a 3.5-mile circular walk from Bourton-on-the-Water that takes you through a landscape dotted with river and lakes for roughly 2 hours.

For how to go about them, take a quick peek into www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/userfiles/file/walks/jubilee/bourton-on-the-water-and-wyck-rissington.pdf.


The Italian-Norwegian Frame of Mind

What a strange combination you might comment. It is, but then I am a little strange too. I mean, I like to make up my own rules when cooking. I team up dishes from various parts of the globe together. It is closely related to travel. I end up picking up on tips on introducing dishes to my repertoire of cooking while dancing around in the kitchen with a ladle and knife (I really do, I groove to music while cooking). These dishes take me along with them to where I was when I first tried them and the feeling of pure bliss I experienced when I dug into them.

Tonight I am in the mood for Aglio e Olio. It is the classic spaghetti dish, the ultimate feast food really. Put that in front of me and I could gobble up more than my stomach can hold. The rustic Italian dish is made with the simplest of ingredients such as generous lashings of olive oil and crushed garlic pods along with a smattering of peperoncini – because it is said to have originated in the once poor region of Abruzzo in Italy. I substituted white spaghetti with wholegrain spelt spaghetti. And I love my greens, so in the backdrop is a side of stir-fried asparagus with salt and freshly crushed black pepper.

The other star of my dinner is the Norheimsund Chicken. You see, one rainy day in Norheimsund, a village on one of the many mysterious fjords of Norway, we were presented with organic chicken breast and thyme by the host of the apartment we had rented. She runs an organic farm on her farm which is just one of her many talents. The others include dancing a jig while explaining the name of her Pointer dog, Charleston, and then suddenly positioning her arms like she was about to launch an arrow off an imaginary bow into the air — to tell us that he points just so when he goes hunting. I could see why Charleston would not leave her alone. And I could also see why she so appealed to me.

Anyway, to get back to matters more related to what lies on the plate, I slit the chicken breast, slid a sprig or two of thyme in with two cloves of garlic, a slice of Babybel cheese (because I like to have them on me for snacking when I am travelling) and some butter. It went on to a cast iron pan on the burner and voila, the chicken that came out was a winner. We call it Norheimsund Chicken, because it is something that we just came up with out of necessity and fell in love with. If you try it, do let me know.

I am tucking into the goodness of it with a ruby-red Malbec — the spaghetti making me feel greedy for some more, but the chicken saying, ‘Go on, ignore me. You know how it thrills me’  — and I cannot help thinking that Sophia Loren had a point when she noted, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.

What is going to be on your plate tonight? What are your favourites from your travels that you have incorporated into your daily meals?