We celebrated Paul’s birthday this year with a lovely little trip to the Cotswolds. We set off on Friday morning heading for Cirencester and arrived at lunch time – perfect timing to sample the delights of the food market that was occupying the town square. After food, we had a wander around the streets and through the park. Cirencester is charming and well worth a visit – an afternoon well spent.

From Cirencester we headed south just a few miles to South Cerney and our cottage, Filly island. We were greeted by the cottage owner, Mouse, who was filled with lots of great advice about what to do and where to eat while we stayed. There was also a lovely hamper full of goodies for us to indulge in during our stay including a fresh loaf of gorgeous buttery bread. Filly Island used to be the barn where the cart was stored but it is now a stylish cottage for 2 (actually 2+1 – in the form of our furry baby Stella of course)! It suited us well for the 3 nights we spent there (although note to self for next time – 3 nights was too short!)… It was filled with quirky, unique touches such as the kitchen cupboards which were converted from the old barn door, the tennis racket converted to a mirror/key rack and the bath tub found in a bush and lovingly restored. I particularly liked the markings on the bedroom door recording the name and heights of the doggy visitors – Stella’s name was added to the collection. It was great to have this space to cosy up into each evening – the fire made it super snug.

On Saturday we drove to nearby Kemble and took the train from there to Stroud. The farmer’s market in Stroud was really good – lots of choice spread around the town centre. It was a shame the weather was not playing but some of the market was undercover so those bits got more of our attention! After stocking up at the market, we walked back in the direction of the car – 14 miles mostly along canal footpaths and disused canal footpaths. It was very muddy underfoot in places and rained on and off throughout the day. So the tartiflette pie that we’d bought at the farmer’s market warmed us up and was a really nice treat dinner. This was washed down by birthday cake… made by the fair hands of Emma’s Cupcakery. I really love this lady’s creative cakes.

On Sunday the weather was much nicer so we took another wander… this time from the cottage to the nearby Cotswold Water Park . There are more than 150 lakes created by the mining of limestone. The lakes filled in naturally after work on the mines stopped in the early 1970s. It was still pretty muddy under foot (and under paw for that matter) but the camera saw a little more action on day two.

On Monday morning we said good-bye to South Cerney and Filly Island and set off for Bibury – a Cotswold village recommended to us by Mouse – to see Arlington Row. This is a row of cottages originally built in 1380 by the monks to store wool. The building was converted into cottages for weavers in the seventeenth century. I guess it’s one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes and is depicted on the inside cover of all United Kingdom passports. Cool, hey?

From Bibury we started our journey north. We had a lovely stop in Ludlow for a wander around the town and market before finishing off the last leg of the journey home. So it was another successful birthday pilgrimage to explore a part of the world we’ve not visited and, most importantly, spend some quality time together – just the three of us.