What to do in the Cotswolds in the lead up to Christmas
What to do in the Cotswolds in the lead up to Christmas
People throughout the country are going stir crazy!
Now into a second lockdown and with Christmas looming, it is particularly difficult to deal with staying safe and sanitising.
At this time of year, we should be looking forward to Christmas shopping, visiting our local Christmas market or one further afield, Christmas parties, welcoming family and friends round for pre-Christmas drinks, Christmas dinner and opening presents.
Instead we must now think differently about how we shop for the festive season, casting aside all the values and traditions that we have known since the day we were born. What a treat it always used to be going into shopping centres decked out with trees, baubles, lights and twinkly trinkets, browsing round the shops overfilled with gifts tempting us to buy, taking the kids to Santa’s grotto and then ending up exhausted in a trendy coffee shop to enjoy a slice of home-made cake and a much needed cappuccino.
There’ll be very little seasonal socialising this year though with hospitality venues open only for short periods or closed completely. We can’t even invite our family and friends round for drinks or a dinner party because of the rule of six! And a lot of us will be shopping on the net putting more money into the pockets of the online shopping giants.
However, this may all change before Christmas and, hopefully, for Christmas Day if the Government relaxes measures a little to give us a bit of Christmas cheer. But, in the meantime, what can we do ourselves to get into the festive spirit without putting ourselves or others at risk?
Here are my top things to do in the lead up to Christmas
Mostly walks because walking is the best and safest way to exercise during lockdown and beyond. It is also a useful way to gobble up all that surplus excited energy that kids have pre-Christmas.
- Do your Christmas online shopping using local shops/suppliers. See the list of suggestions below.
- Treat yourself to a takeaway snack, meal or Sunday lunch. See the list of suggestions below.
- Enjoy a bracing winter walk along the banks of the Thames in Lechlade. Park up in the Riverside Car Park and walk all the way to St John’s Lock.
- Pop into St Mary’s Church in Fairford (if it is not closed because of Covid-19) and take in the awesome stained glass windows – the only complete set of medieval stained glass windows in the world! You can also have Joanna Lumley (or other celebrities) whispering in your ear using the free audio guide round the windows. (Check first that these are still available to use during this pandemic.)
- Cirencester Park (home of the Earl and Countess Bathurst) has just taken delivery of a herd of elephants! These wooden life-size creatures are well worth a visit and the Park is a lovely safe place to take a walk as well.
A herd of elephants in Cirencester Park
- Riverside walk in Fairford. Park up free in the Market Place outside the Bull and follow the path to the right of Colosseo at the bottom of the market square. If it is a Wednesday, you can enjoy browsing round the market stalls in the Market Place selling all sorts of things, but you will have to park at the top of the High Street as there will be no parking in the square.
Support local businesses as they grapple with challenges never experienced before
To help you start your online local shopping for Christmas, here are a few suggestions. Just click on the name of the business to discover a whole wealth of ideas not only to make your Christmas shopping easier but to help our local traders and economy:
- Award-winning Paredes Photography is offering gift vouchers for a photo experience. Great for family photos, grandchildren, pets and more.
- Colosseo Fairford – a voucher for a takeaway or meal in.
- Cotswold Woollen Weavers, Filkins – A whole treasure trove of beautiful jackets, jumpers, rugs, furniture and more.
- Fairford Town Football & Social Club – Buy the man in your life a season ticket to watch a few footie games.
- The Health Box, Lechlade – A voucher to help you eat and drink healthy, plus natural organic foods.
- Jen Winnett Art – fabulous, original art made into useful and beautiful gifts delivered to your home.
- The Cotswold Chippy – Every night is fish and chips night! Get a voucher to use when the Cotswold Chippy visits your town/village.
- Wrag Barn Golf Club, Highworth – Treat your loved one to a round of golf and/or a meal in the stunning upstairs restaurant.
- Fabulous Partyware in Lechlade – it does what it says on the tin – offers fabulous partyware and gifts. Vouchers available.
- Enjoy a voucher for a craft workshop making lampshades, jewellery, mosaics, needle felting and more with Lechlade Craft Barn.
- Delicious ice cream for corporate events or just to enjoy at home from Ray’s Ice Cream.
- A year’s subscription to the National Trust or visit the Buscot & Coleshill Estates.
- Londis in Lechlade and Fairford can provide a voucher so you can indulge in a couple of bottles of wine, a special reserve bottle of Port or whatever takes your fancy.
- Thyme (at Southrop) – a voucher to spend on a meal in the superb Ox Barn, a spa treatment at the onsite Meadow Spa or a Cookery Class in their famous cookery school.
The Ox Barn
- How about a voucher for lunch, Sunday lunch or dinner for 2, 4 or even 6 people at Sudbury House Hotel, Faringdon; The Bull Hotel, Fairford; The New Inn, Lechlade; The Old Swan Inn, Lechlade; The Railway Inn, Fairford; The Riverside, Lechlade, The Rose & Crown, Highworth; The Swan at Southrop; The Trout Inn, Lechlade; Ye Olde Swan at Radcot.
- Coffee, tea, cold drinks, home-made cakes, sandwiches, paninis – all available at Lynwood & Co Ltd in Burford, Carterton, Fairford and Lechlade; The Coffee Post and 7a Coffee Shop in Fairford and Vera’s Kitchen in Lechlade – Buy a voucher for a friend to use in exchange for any of these goodies.
- Both Fairford and Lechlade have fantastic butchers, so why not call Andrew Butler in Fairford or Cutler & Bayliss in Lechlade to order your Christmas turkey, tasty pork pies, stuffing, fresh meat and more?
Please, please help our local small businesses and have yourself a very merry Christmas!