At the end of October, after five and a half years living in the Cotswolds, we left.
We arrived in Nailsworth in spring 2010, me, Steve and our cat Buddy, with the idea of spending a year in the Cotswolds. We rented out our house in Colorado and rented a furnished house in Nailsworth.
We had tried living in England twice before, but it never stuck. In the late 80s we spent six months traveling around Britain, but returned to Canada and then emigrated to the US. In 2007 we spent two months in a cottage in the Cotswolds with the plan of finding a long term rental, but the exchange rate was $2.10 to the GBP and everything felt too expensive for us, so we returned to Santa Fe.
But this time it all fell in place. The exchange rate was better ($1.60 to the GBP), we were able to rent long term the same furnished cottage we had rented for two months in 2007, and we had friends who rented our Colorado house from us. We were both newly retired from work and did not have the pull of family to bring us back to the US.
Our years of renting houses (three of them) let us try out various ways of living. We started out in a low ceilinged, stone cottage on the outskirts of Nailsworth, a lively market town in the south Cotswolds. Then we moved 10 miles north to the picture-perfect village of Painswick where we lived in a remodeled mill beside the Painswick Stream. After that we moved to the upper village, to a remodeled 1950s bungalow at the end of the prettiest lane I have ever seen.
We did just what we had planned with our time in the Cotswolds. Gloucestershire, where we lived, has more public footpaths per square mile than any other county in England and we must have walked at least half of them – maybe more. We did a few short trips to the continent each year instead of our usual one long trip from the US and we traveled a bit in England.
It is heart-breaking to leave such a wonderful area. I love the villages, the woods, the walking trails. We made friends in the area. I am already thinking of when we will go back next year, to walk on the footpaths that we love.
Goodbye to the Cotswolds! (And hello to Dorset – after months of looking we found a nice house to rent in Bridport.)
I have two books to recommend to anyone wanting to get a feel for what it is like living in the Cotswolds.
A Place in My Country by Ian Walthew, a memoir of a British man who moves to the Cotswolds to recover from a fast-paced business life. Beautifully written and realistic description of village and farming life.
Americashire, a field guide to a marriage by Jennifer Richardson. An American expat moves with her British husband to a cute Cotswold village and writes about its charms. She loves the footpaths as much as we do.