There's something grisly sounding yet utterly charming about going to a place called "Lower Slaughter" in the English countryside that is the Cotswolds. I'd only seen pictures of the Cotswolds but never been, so I was very curious to see the various little villages and towns that make up this picturesque area.
Especially something with Slaughter in the name. I recall Borat on the Ali G show meeting someone with the last name Slaughter who framed it as "Laughter with an S". I suppose he had been asked about it so many times that he had to make a joke out of it. Lower Slaughter was also called the "Most Beautiful village in England" although I'm sure that's up for furious debate amongst the locals of Gloucestershire.
We drive up to Lower Slaughter Manor, a very English looking manor house, built in 1658 and granted to the Whitmore family who commissioned celebrated stonemason Valentine Strong (whose son later became the chief stonemason for the reconstruction of St Paul's Cathedral). The Whitmores lived there for 400 years, (lucky things) and now it is a small hotel with 19 rooms or suites.
The gardens are spectacularly beautiful, like something out of a movie set. I expect someone to come out wearing period costume and flounce about at any second. Instead we seat ourselves under one of the outdoor umbrella tables and order Afternoon Tea. Service is friendly and warm but still very polite and courteous, a fine balance given that it could have been stuffy.
It takes a while for everything to arrive but once it does, we gratefully tuck in. The afternoon tea, with a pot of Mokalbarie tea, described as "an extravagant tea, aromatic, full bodied, spicy and malty" has 4 scones, 2 plain with sultanas and 2 cinnamon with sultanas as well as a pot of clotted cream and a pot of raspberry jam. My husband orders a pot of coffee (£3.50).
The scones are warm and the cinnamon ones are particularly good. The tea is delicious and my husband, ever the budget conscious individual looks like he has scored the jackpot "I can get 6 or more cups of coffee from this pot!" he exclaims with delight. Just like his mum said when I had afternoon tea with her last year.[
We also visit Boughton-on-the-water, Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Camden, three other lovely places. Boughton-on-the-water is particularly pretty with it's footbridges and shops and filled with many tourists and senior citizens (I presume the residents).
And of course no trip is the same without some "The Office UK" references.
Stopping by for lunch earlier that day, we consulted the Tourist Information Centre and the lady there highly recommended Dover's Hill saying that the view from there was "simply spectacular" so with the help of our Tom Tom we located it, along with hundreds of school kids who were out on a school excursion and also stopping for a picnic lunch. There were also lots of sheep who expansively marked their territory with sheep poo. Having a look at the view from Dover's Hill left us completely underwhelmed (it's definitely not worth a special trip) and we finally managed to find a patch of grass not littered with poo and sat down to eat.
The Waitrose pork pie was surprisingly good and I actually preferred the pastry to the jellied filling. It's also best not to read the Nutritional information before consuming this, it's not for those watching the fat content of their food.
Apparently Gordon Ramsay's gastropub "The Narrow" serves Tyrrell's chips. We had to try them because of that and also for the packaging ;)
Lower Slaughter Manor Hotel
Gloucestershire GL54 2HP
Vegetarian options: some choices