Monday, November 2, 2015

THE COTSWOLDS






October 2014


My old friend Piers, who I’ve known over twenty years, pulls into The Langham’s forecourt in his new VW Golf R before noon next morning for a road trip.


I requested the Cotswolds and Piers finessed it into a route and overnight accommodations.  


There is no person I would better trust for this.  We worked closely doing Monaco Intelligence for over five years, and private-sector intelligence before that, so we have many reference points.  As good friends, we can just as easily drive in silence as engaged in spirited conversation.




First stop, quaint and colorful Cirencester, scribed about as one of the top ten towns in England to which people weary of London are moving.  





A superb lunch at Pizza Express is followed by an exquisite café latte at a place called Coffee # 1, whose theme is books, with this saying emblazoned on a wall:  A life without books is like… a body without a 
soul.

The sky is overcast, the weather damp, but my spirit soars as we drive to Lechlade, where the River Thames originates and the last point at which boats are permitted.

Everything around here is built in Cotswold stone, a protection from relentless damp and cold.



Piers chose Burford to overnight.


We pull in around teatime, check into the Burford House Hotel:  Tudor architecture, the genuine article.

My room on the top floor, Sherbourne, has a sloped timber ceiling, sloped floors, leaded windows, and a freestanding roll-top tub. 


Known as The Gateway to the Cotswolds, Burford is blessed with an extremely attractive high street—on a gradient, with verdant fields and hills in the distance.  

We poke into The Oxford Shirt Company, from which I purchase a badly needed sweater (a Merino wool cardigan) in which I will reside the rest of this trip.


Darkness comes early, and with it a short stroll to Bay Tree Hotel, a quaint country inn of meandering dens on different levels like a rabbit warren, each with its own smoldering fireplace.  


Inside the bar I coach the bartender into stirring a gin martini to perfection. 




When our food is ready, they lead us into the dining room:  

Duck liver, with a glass of Sancerre followed by sea bass and a hearty Saint-Emilion, finished by a selection of fine cheese and a glass of Graham's 20 year-old Tawny port.






My first novel about a road trip has been acquired by Skyhorse Publishing in New York City.

It will be published in Fall 2016.