Easter Sunday: The Lord is my Shepherd


Happy Easter! For Christians all over the world this is a joyous day as it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, and a triumph of life over death.

On our drives over the Cotswolds I have been thinking about Psalm 23, as fields abound with grazing sheep. They look well fed, calm and contented, but upon approaching them (for a photo) I found that they scattered and ran away with no clue on direction. I think this is why they need a shepherd.

Like sheep, we too need a shepherd. When we are lost, scared, unsure of what the future holds or mistrusting of life in general, we have Jesus who said he is the Good Shepherd.



Today’s plan was to have a walk, eat lunch, visit a National Trust property and not do too much. In detail: Batsford Arboretum – The Howard Arms – Chastleton House – Hotel. Maybe some ice cream.

Being so busy these past few weeks, we mostly missed the cherry blossoms in London. We saw the stretch along Swiss Cottage (now quite famous) but had no time to visit Kew Gardens. The season is over all too soon so I was very happy to see the cherry blossoms in Batsford Arboretum, most of which are still in bud.



The estate of Batsford Park was inherited in 1886 by Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale. His interest in Japan and East Asia led to the planting and development of the garden in an Oriental style. Besides the cherry blossom trees, there are different types of bamboo and magnolia trees grown here.



After lunch we visited Chastleton House. The house is 0ver 400 years old and is in a Jacobean style, which means it was built in the time of King James VI and I. See here for an explanation on why he had two titles.


Front and back view of the house, although it is more than what I would call a ‘house’!


Chastleton House was owned for 400 years by the same family until it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1991. As the family fortune decreased and the cost of upkeep went up, the building, interior and furnishings of the house went into slow but steady decline. The National Trust made a decision to leave the house as it is, and to not restore it to how it was 400 years ago, to give visitors an idea of what it was like to live in the house. You will see original architectural features as well as things owned by the house’s last occupants.

Be prepared for some uncomfortable moments as parts of the house are really in a state of disrepair and there is even a layer of mould on the ceiling of the original basement kitchen. Walking around Chastleton, I told myself that a) it is better to live in a small house that can be managed more easily and b) I must do more decluttering and cleaning when I can.



The Juxon Bible was one of fifty commissioned by King Charles I in 1629 to be given to the Bishops and members of the senior clergy. William Juxon (1582 – 4 June 1663) was Bishop of London from 1633 to 1646 and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1660 until his death. The bible was passed from Bishop Juxon’s estate to the family at Chastleton in the 1700s after his descendants had to sell their estate.



Give us today our daily bread: the meals we had today…

Breakfast at the Hook restaurant (The Fish Hotel): toasted sourdough with poached eggs and avocado, lime, chilli and feta


Lunch was a traditional Sunday roast at The Howard Arms in Ilmington, where the vegetables were plentiful and served in bowls made by Winchcombe Pottery (see previous post)


Dinner of pizza at the Lounge (the Fish Hotel) where we caught up with the latest Spelling Bee


We did manage to sneak in some raspberry and pistachio gelato to share


The prediction is for the rain to return from tomorrow. We have had a very good run with the weather for the past three days. This has helped make our long weekend in the Cotswolds more enjoyable than it would have been if we had to do what we did in the rain. We return to London tomorrow, but hopefully not before seeing a little more of the Cotswolds before we leave.


The Cotswolds: Throughout the Ages


Another sunny day with blue skies. I am getting a bit blasé about wearing a padded coat. Instead, I wear a thick jumper and put on a scarf and light rain jacket to keep the worst of the chill at bay.

The plan today was to visit a pottery and two National Trust properties, one a 16th century manor house and the other an open space which reveals the foundations of a grand Roman villa built in the 4th century. In detail: Broadway – Snowshill Manor – Winchcombe Pottery – Chedworth Roman Villa. Somehow we managed to fit in some ice cream.

We started the day with a visit to Broadway, which I think is one of the liveliest and loveliest towns in the Cotswolds. There is evidence of settlements here dating from 5,000 years ago. It’s possibly best to start looking first into the past few hundred years, through the displays and exhibitions in the Broadway Museum.


Some of the buildings of Broadway


I wanted to revisit Snowshill Manor as I have been there only once or twice, around 25 years ago. The earliest surviving part of the Manor was built around 1550, during the Tudor period. It was later extended, and you can see the differences in stone and window design in the photo below. A bit more of the manor’s history can be found here.



At the entrance I spotted this letterbox with the motto Nisi Dominus Frustra. This was, in fact, my school motto. It was explained to us that the Latin words meant ‘without God all is in vain’. A more accurate meaning is ‘Except the Lord in vain’, which is a shortened version of Psalm 127 verses 1 and 2: Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.



Nothing quite prepares you for the eclectic and eccentric collection amassed by Charles Paget Wade. As I get older I try to regularly go through the stuff I have owned over the years, keeping just what is useful and needed. Not so Mr Wade, who basically collected anything and everything that had been discarded when it was replaced by something more modern or newly designed. It did not matter that the item was now obsolete or non-functional, the point was that nothing should perish (i.e. be thrown into the junkyard). Then he had the ingenious idea to leave it all to the National Trust, thus entertaining generations to come.


Some of the collected items displayed in different rooms throughout the Snowshill Manor. Nothing is labelled so it’s quite fun to work out what some of the items are and how old they might be, also its country of origin


View of the house from the garden (top) and the entrance to an inner garden (bottom)


When I was at university I often ate in Cranks, the wholefood shop, in Covent Garden. I enjoyed what I ate immensely as it was healthy and nutritious, but the pleasure was also about eating from the plates and bowls the food was served in. I never lost my love for this type of pottery serveware, and have looked out for similar pieces since. I now buy them from David Mellor Design, who carry many items of craft pottery.


Pottery pieces similar to that used in Cranks (top and middle) and pieces with a dark brown glaze (bottom)


It was a slightly longer drive to see the remains of Chedworth Roman Villa, parts of which were unearthed in the 19th century. The distance of course was much, much, greater for the Romans (or it could be another nation under Roman rule at the time) who came to this part of England in the 4th century. Read more about its history and discovery here.


Details from the floor mosaics


Pillars for the underfloor heating system which heated the villa (top) and the remains of the villa’s foundations (bottom)


In the afternoon we made another visit to Alfonso Gelateria (The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold) where the owner Lewis was paddling out different flavours of gelato as fast as he could. He told us that yesterday was the first day of serving gelato in this new location. It seems that we were at the right place at the right time.

From the Specials menu we had Lemon and Hibiscus, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Mascarpone and Profiteroles and Dark Chocolate and Almond. I am already wondering if we can nip in to the shop again before we leave the Cotswolds.



Dinner was at The Ebrington Arms. The food was good but not memorably so, the lighting was a bit harsh and we came home with our clothes smelling of fat. Life outside my own kitchen can be a bit of a hit and miss affair, but it is these little experiences here and there that keep me motivated to cook better meals when I am at home.