I used to grit my teeth when my sister-in-law regularly declared the Cotswolds "Designer Countryside". I loved where we lived near Chipping Norton and our country life, our farming neighbours and friends and the lovely community feeling that centred around our 'local' The Tite Inn at Chadlington. Having lived in the area for most of my adult life I didn't really know what she was talking about - it was just countryside.
Maybe it was the day we first spotted our neighbour hoovering his drive that we realised things were changing. The old folk started moving out and younger 'London Folk' started moving in. Many of the new folk became - and still are - great friends, but some started complaining about the mud on the road from the tractors, the smell of pigs, the noises - of farm machinery and even cockerels for goodness sake!
So we came out to 'The other side of Worcestershire'. Really rural - not wild like the depths of Wales and Scotland - but just good old fashioned rural - lots of tractors, lots of smells, lots of mud. We love it. In the summer there is no place better to be. It is exactly as most people imagine 'The English Countryside' to be.
And now I understand what my sister in law was saying. The Cotswolds are beautiful and are made even more beautiful by the wealth brought by its more recent inhabitants. The perfect dry stone walling, layered hedges and post and rail fencing couldn't be achieved without them.
When we first moved here I admit I did smile at the variety of materials that could be classed as fencing. Now I have joined in with the rest of the ordinary country folk and will happily tie a few pallets together with some bailer twine and name it a perfectly good fence. I think it may be a small step towards my becoming a local - rather than merely 'Cotswold Overflow'.
Broadway is a lovely old town on the cotswold side of Worcestershire and it is where I often meet my sister as it's half way between me in Berrington and her family in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. We normally meet in the car park there so we can pile in her children's many bags of luggage when they are coming to stay with me. The last time we met I spluttered into the car park in our ancient Peugeot and noticed that this time all the cars parked there were new: Porsches, BMWs, Range Rovers and the like, all beautifully clean and shiny (not a single scrap of straw sticking out of the boots!) It seemed like a different world - almost unreal - and I marvelled how one county can be so different from one side to the other.
I love the Cotswolds, in fact I have always wanted to spend Christmas at one of the beautiful hotels there. Now that I don't actually live there it doesn't seem such a silly idea either. But for day to day simple country living I think I am in just the right place for me - on the wild side of Worcestershire.