It’s not often you’d welcome a man wielding a chainsaw next to the local playground but on this occasion I was positively ecstatic. I had just come up with the zillionth excuse to rockette number one as to why I couldn’t climb a tree with her (me having the agility of an ox mainly) when I was quizzed by rockette number 2 as to what that loud buzzing was in the distance.
We tentatively went to gawp at the flurry of sawdust, glinting goggles and metal. As the jagged teeth gnashed and devoured the bark, I just thought it was a fallen tree being cut up for firewood (can’t plan too far ahead these days) but no – when we approached the most incredible sight.
Andy, a talented former graphic designer and tree surgeon married his two skills and regularly revs up his saw to make stunning works of art all over the UK. The good news is that this tree is not being lugged to another part of the world it’s going to stay in the Cotswolds for us to sit on and drink lattes (or Toilet duck depending on how your morning’s been) whilst kids clamber over our heads. More relaxing than it might sound.
Trees indeed. Those natural towers often taken for granted as they sway in the background, so at the risk of sounding like a total tree hugger, what other wood-type things like are there in the Cotswolds worth a mention?
Here’s me Top Ten:
1. The yew trees in Painswick
You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the Art Couture Painswick festival hosted amongst the thrilling view of churchyard yew trees. Once you get used to the sight of a spectators eating their egg sandwiches on top of tombs you’ll be entranced.
Everyone likes a bit of legend and these trees don’t disappoint – there were originally 99 of them and it was mooted that the devil would destroy the 100th if ever planted.
So a huge dilemma erupted when, to mark the Millennium, every parish was given a yew tree to plant – eek what to do? Parish officials gulped and bravely planted the 100th tree and 15 years on…it’s doing well. These trees (mere toddlers at 300 years old) are not just a pretty pathway to the church as their two tonnes of clippings, taken every September, are a good source of the basic material for the anti-cancer drug paclitaxol.
Yew clever trees yew.
2. Fever-Tree elderflower tonic
Normally tonic could be labelled the Felicity Jones to gin’s Eddie Redmayne but no more is it just a supporting role in a good G&T. Let’s face it, we need tonic water but we don’t make a fuss about it, not until Fever-Tree’s elderflower version rocked up that is.
The Cotswolds connection is that the tonic is made from elderflowers collected from around these parts, undoubtedly because only the best will do for our friends at Fever-Tree. The tonic is totally delish, so much so that you find yourself ordering your next G&T without the gin. Pah, as if.
3. Teresa Poole
Making gorgeous interior paint works is the fabulous Teresa Poole. She’s been a full-time artist for over 30 years working on murals, paint finishes and spectacular trompe l’oeil.
Having travelled far and wide, her commissions have included the big ol’ QEII, the Cyprus Hilton in Italy (you can’t get it wrong when dealing with Italians and their quest for aesthetic perfection) and Calcot Manor, a little closer to home.
Teresa finds being surrounded by beautiful Gloucestershire countryside in Thrupp is her inspiration. She specialises in Japanese work with a western twist and you can buy her work or commission your own. Be sure to look her up if you think it’s time to invest in a new conversation piece.
4. Oak House No. 1
This place in Tetbury just oozes personality. With vibrant colours, fabulous artworks and attention to detail that will have you drooling, Oak House No.1 is definitely one of the coolest locations to drop some zeds.
Owned by dashing couple Nicola and Gary Kennedy, each room is beautifully decorated and you’ll be well looked after. You’ll find designer sheets (Ralph Lauren or Frette), cashmere throws, iPod docks, silver tea sets, antique furniture, DVD library, fresh milk in the mini fridge…..come on now, this is just getting silly.
They’ll even sort out your entertainment, whether you fancy jetting around the Cotswolds in a classic car or are desperate to try out some polo lessons. There are lots of lovely places to visit nearby including HRH’s deli round the corner though apparently he’s doesn’t man the tills at weekends.
5. Westonbirt Arboretum
Even the downright lazy would agree that a walk in the park doesn’t get better than Westonbirt Arboretum. If you’re a hide and seek fan then it was made for you. Stunning all year round, but utterly breathtaking in the autumn, there are 15,000 specimens from all over the world no less.
There are events throughout the year at Westonbirt including ‘Forest Live’ during the summer. This year’s line up of super duper bands includes Paloma Faith, Tom Odell, Rae Morris, Robert Plant, The Vamps, McBusted and those smooth crooners Spandau Ballet. Book your tickets peeps, before they fly.
6. Log House Holidays
It’s not just LA that can boast an evening under the stars in a hot tub – we’ve got a stunning location all of our own thanks to Log House Holidays. If you’ve got some serious grovelling to do then your loved one will instantly forgive you after a stay in this romantic location. Equally if you think your family, including exuberant kids, deserve a bit of time away then you’ll find log cabins of all sizes and far enough away you’ll not panic about noise levels.
Not only are the cabins beautifully decorated, you can also create your own private spa in them, as the clever peeps at Log House Holidays have teamed up with My Personal Sanctuary so you can get a pedicure, massage, facial..you name it… without moving a muscle. How brilliant is that?
7. Nut Tree inn
Run by Mike and Imogen North, The Nut Tree village pub in Murcott is an absolute delight. Serving sensational food it’s had no less than seven years of being awarded a michelin star. The mouthwatering menu includes lobster ravioli and braised shin of beef and if you’re feeling daring (and hungry) go all out for the incredible tasting menu.
This 15th-century thatched haven is always welcoming whether you need to feed your inner foodie or if you just fancy dropping by for a quick drink.
8. Sticks and Stone
Rare that one gets overexcited about a chopping board but you’ll be forgiven when they are as cool as these beauties
Sticks and Stone have lovingly taken reclaimed Cotswold wood and turned it into fabulous items including wine racks from beams (the most recent from Blenheim Palace estate) and a very, very long egg stick that holds up to a dozen eggs. It looks brilliant and is also particularly handy if you’re Desperate Dan or have plans to open your own B&B.
They also create bespoke products and care about the items so much that they might even give them a spin in an open top car before delivering it to you – weather permitting of course.
9. Ballooning in the Cotswolds
What with that jolly Dom Joly taking up piloting of a hot air balloon, there has to be something said for this checking out the tops of trees malarky.
Ballooning in the Cotswolds is probably on everyone’s bucket list as this thrilling pastime will definitely get your pulse racing. As you patiently wait for the balloon to be prepared, no doubt you’ll be asked to get stuck in too, you’ll elegantly hop into the basket and up, up, up you go.
Then drift slowly along with the wind, high over the Cotswolds landscape, marvelling at the tree-lined beauty whilst grinning and waving madly at the farmers hard at work below.
10. Ben Axford’s bark
It was my husband who introduced me to Ben Axford at a party which made me realise how confident a man he must be: not only is Ben the doppelgänger of Hollywood’s Bradley Cooper but he’s a chocolatier. Bittersweet if you’ve booked him for chocolate making session at your hen party.
Ben’s handcrafted creations are sublime, particularly the bark that includes flavours like salted pecan that really shouldn’t work but does, as well as sour cherry and raspberry. I once fainted from overdosing on chocolate (in a bar where all assumed I was drunk which was less embarrassing than the truth) but when it’s as exciting as this then I’d probably risk tumbling to the ground again.
So what’s your Cotswold tree fetish? Tweet us at @rockthecotswold
Posted by Melissa at Rock the Cotswolds www.rockthecotswolds.com