The agenda for this trip was to "see the Cotswolds." "The Cotswolds" is a vague area that is supposed to be quintessential England, with pretty villages all made of "honey colored" stone, gentle brooks, blah blah. Any touring book or video features at least one town from this area.
When we went to bed Saturday night, the girls were in the living room, on a sleeper sofa and a sleeper chair. William was in a playpen in the living/dining room. The boys were in the second bedroom, and Bob and I were in the master bedroom. I was tired from walking, but when I got in bed my shins started cramping, so I had to walk around the room before I could go to sleep. Then, about 2am, William woke up crying. I tried to nurse him back to sleep, but it was no go, and he was waking up the girls. So I brought him to bed with us. What a dumb idea! Who ever thought of co-sleeping? He wanted to play, but would lay down if I hugged him. Then he scooted around, and patted me, and kicked me, and cooed, and scooted... I never got to REM sleep that night, and Bob didn't fare much better.
After breakfast of milk and poptarts, we headed out. First stop was the Rollright Stones, a standing stone circle about 30 minutes from the base. It is said that you cannot count the same number of stones twice, and I got 73 the first time around and 70 the second time, but didn't want to take the time to go around again. I tried to get a feel for the atmosphere, but it just seemed like a curiosity to me. Maybe the total irreverance of the children had something to do with it.
From there we went to Stow-on-the-Wold, and it was a nice little town/village. Being Sunday, the bookstores (I saw 3) were closed, but there was a market thing going on, and I bought a cake and a book. We stopped for lunch (peanut butter sandwhiches) near the town stocks, but rain was threatening so we cut things short and went back to the car. Another 5 minutes to Bourton-on-the-Water, where the sun was shining brightly and the tourists were out in full force. It was a pretty town, with lots of little shops, and the "water" running through, but it was SO crowded we just couldn't relax and enjoy it. As we were all getting nice and grumpy, we stopped at a pub with a child's play area in the back garden, and let the children play while Bob and I each had a pint of Coke. That helped a lot.
Another 5 minutes from there was Lower Slaughter, another picturesque village. Only, they don't have a parking lot. There is one strip of road that one *could* park on, but that was full for an "event" across the street - we guessed a wedding. We drove around town twice, and then went on to Upper Slaughter. We found a place to park there, and Bob and I walked down to the creek while the children watched a video in the van. It was pretty, too.
It was getting on to dinner time by now, so we headed toward the room, looking for a place to stop. We actually went past the base to a town called Brackley, which we teased each other by calling it broccoli. There was a fish bar, closed, an "American Diner," expensive, and an Inn with a bar and a restaurent. We looked over the menu posted by the door (an awesome tradition, by the way), and went in. They had just opened for dinner (5:30) so we were the only ones there, and we got wonderful service. The tables were set with tablecloths, bread plates, two glasses for each place, several knives, spoons, and forks... but it was cheaper than the 'diner' next door. I had lasagne, Bob had fish and chips, and the children had ham sandwiches and sausages with mashed potatoes and peas.
After dinner we stopped by the really cool playground on base before going home to bed. I played some, but when I went down a slide I landed in a giant puddle and soaked through my skirt. Oh, well. It was fun anyway.
Our official opinion: the Cotswolds are fine, but not more special than other English villages, and a lot more crowded. Not a destination unto themselves.