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AN ENGLISH village can have a fairytale appearance, and one of my favorites is Bourton-on-the-Water. This Cotswolds town of about 3300 residents is 85 miles northwest of London, in Gloucestershire.
Its High Street parallels the River Windrush, crossed by charming arched stone bridges.
The Cotswold Motoring Museum lies on High Street. It offers a wonderfully intimate experience akin to wandering around the estate of a favorite uncle who happens to be a car enthusiast.
An Austin Seven mini-pickup resides out front of the museum in good weather. (See www.wp.me/p2ETap-pq for more Austin Seven lore.) The museum has collections of cars, motorcycles, caravans (Brit: house trailers), toys and memorabilia.
There’s plenty for families to do at the museum. Each car, for instance, has a placard describing “five things for children to notice.” The vintage toy collection includes 31 pedal cars and aeroplanes. Check out http://goo.gl/z3kWG for details of visiting the museum.
High Street turns into Rissington Road, along which lies the Old New Inn, a traditional Cotswolds country inn dating back to 1712.
I stayed there some time ago, and I enjoyed experiencing a coach house of the Queen Anne era. However, the room was tiny, the stairs, narrow and steep, and the single guest phone was in a cubbyhole at the foot of the stairs.
Yet there’s another reason for visiting the Old New Inn: its Model Village. This 1/9-scale replica of Bourton-on-the-Water immediately behind the inn is beautiful. Constructed by a former landlord of the inn, the Model Village took five years to complete. Its opening in 1937 coincided with the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the late Queen Mother).
As with its full-size counterpart, the buildings are crafted of Cotswolds stone. Many of the trees are bonsai, all in perfect scale. Walk past the Model Village church, listen, and choir practice may be heard.
What’s more, of course, the Model Village has its own Old New Inn. And behind this is that inn’s own model village, a 1/9-scale replica of the Model Village.
In summertime, Bourton-on-the-Water can be something of a tourist magnet. But when touring is so satisfying, I’m delighted to be tourist. And, remember, Bourton-on-the-Water is there year-around. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013