Living the good life

A Little Venice in England

HilariusJourney.wordpress.com THE bouisterous chatter of ducks and swans colors the beauty village of Bourton-on-the-water, a village of about 3,000 people situated on the river Windrush. Visitors enthusiastically tthrew scrpas of bread into the river, the ducks swiftly capturing the flakes of bread and biscuits. Our guide said there were always ducks and other birds on the water and – sometimes – even a toy rubber duck.

The clear channel of the Windrush is only the depth of an adult knee but the river has been the lifeblood of the settlement since around 4,000 years BC, when it was settled by Neolithic man.

At this time of year, many of the trees are bare, others drop their leaves to welcome the arrival of winter. Trees such as conifers continue to splash green around the landscape and the well-trimmed grass along the river is dotted with park benches to enjoy the view.

Several groups of tourists are taking pictures on a small bridge while sprinkling food for the ducks. Other groups of tourists are eating on the restaurant terrace on the riverside while enjoying the scenery.

Vernes Restaurants & Tea Room is one of the famous places to enjoy a meal. Located right on the canal side, visitors can eat at the restaurant’s terrace while enjoying the view of the river. A typical English countryside menu is offered on the blackboard on the restaurant’s façade. Almost all restaurants in the village serves food like steak pie, sandwiches, homemade jams, cakes and pastries.

The sun is shining brightly but it’s chilly in the Bourton-on-the-Water morning in early December. The temperature had dropped by 6 degrees as winter set in. Elsid arendra visited the village 140 km southwest of London that is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds.

Walk like Guliver

Don’t come to Bourton-on-the-water just to feed the ducks. There is a wealth of tourist attractions. There is a the Bourton-on-the-water Model village, the Cotswold Motoring Museum, Bourton Bird Park and Bourton bloody Walking Tours. The village is also the start of the 160-km Heart of England walking trail. Shorter walks take up two hours and provide views of the beautiful valley in which the village sits.

The model Village complex is a one-to-nine scale replica of Bourton-on-the-water village, which includes miniatures of all the buildings from the Old Water Mill – now  the Cotswold Motoring Museum – to the Old New Inn.

The Bourton village replica is known for its bonsai trees that receive the greatest of care to keep them in scale with the model. There are no cars, trains or planes because the model presents the village as it was in 1930. There are replicas of two beautiful churches, with the sound of the choir coming from within. An intriguing feature of the Model village is an even smaller replica – a model of a model.

A remarkable amount of work has gone into the village model. It takes at least 12 months to build a single cottage. Thousands of stones, bricks, wooden windows and miniature doors have conceived and constructed for seven buildings made by Jon Constable, a specialist in miniatures from Langport, Somerset. You can walk like Gulliver around the Model Village trying to scare the villagers. They won’t get angry or scared because they too are replicas.

Motorized charms

If you are an avid car and motorcycle enthusiast the Cotswold Motoring Museum must be the first on your list. The museum displays  a collection of vintage cars, intriguing classic motorcycles, caravans, original enamel signs, automotive memorabilia and a collection of vintage toys that appeal to automotive enthusiasts.

You can see a legendary Indian V Twin made in 1920. there is the speed record-breaker Brough Superior motorcycle that was dubbed the “Window-Maker” because many fatalities occurred with this bike. Lawrence of Arabia – the British adventurer T.E. Lawrence – died riding his Brough Superior SS100, which he called George V.

More than 30 truly unique cars are on display. The cars range in age from 1930 to the latest addition, a 1972 Mini Clubman. From sleek Jaguars to sporty Austins with an open roof, the collection takes you back to a time when driving was a pleasure, not a necessity.

There is also a collection of toys that is no less complete. You will be invited to recall your childhood with the display of antique toy cars. The museum hosts a huge collection of vintage toy cars, pedal cars, bicycles and airplanes. They even have a rare “pedal-snail” on display and a rocking horse of a type rarely found. Some of the toys have been made lovingly at home by parents, while some of the cars were ordered by manufacturers to replicate the intrinsic details of the real car, but at one-third the size, it is often the Austin pedal car and the spring-based rocking horse which a recalled by visitors as the ones they had in their back garden as children.

Although a large part of the Motoring Museum’s toys are arranged together, others are dotted around the rest of the museum. There is a showcase of toy boats, several model aircraft, jigsaws, board games galore and many boy’s and girl’s ‘annual’. The toy collection is one of the best fun places for kids of all ages (including the grown-ups!).

If you are a fan of model kits, this museum will feel like a heaven. The collection includes wood, plastic and metal kits that have been sold over the last 50 years.

Wildlife

Still got some time? Pay a visit to the Cotswold Bird Park, a two-hectare park founded in 1957 by bird lover Leonard W. Hill. The park is home to around 500 birds contained within more than 50 aviaries, including tropical, temperate and desert houses.

If you come with children, you won’t be able to avoid watching the feeding of the penguins, flamingos and pelicans. There are also some of the ancestors of the birds, even if only in the form of dinosaur statues. Your kids can play at being an archaeologist, digging and excavating a fossil.

You can also experience an adventure in the wild with a walk in Marshmouth Natural Reserve – a remote area that meanders through the marsh, pond, meadow and trees with views of the River Windrush.

Kingfishers are usually easy to find in the region along with more than 50 others bird species, along with frogs, grass-snakes, beetles, dragonflies and several species of mammals that live among the hundreds of species of plants.

Still in the area, you can find an indoor zoo called Discovery, where kids can learn how animals such as birds, reptiles and fish reproduce and lay their eggs. There is also an interactive session that allows visitors to meet and greet with various kinds of lizards and snakes.

For the active, Bourton-on-the-water has a seven-km long walking track to satisfy your curiosity. Wear the right clothes; the trip is often known as Bloody Bourton Walk because the path can be muddy in places, such as when crossing the meadow in the small village of Wyck Rissington.

The walker experiences the rural atmosphere of Bourton, crossing three small rivers and a nature reserve. Be warned, there are no public restrooms along the path, walking with a tour guides a lot of fun. Edward, our tour guide, had a good sense of humor and told lots of stories about legends of witches and other astral beings.

Lakes, the leaves of trees yellowing or already forming a thick bed on the floor of the forest, stone bridges and walls that have dotted the landscape for hundreds of years. Who could want more?

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