Like many things in my life, my first visit to the Cotswolds was motivated by food. I was lured by The Pudding Club, a twice-monthly gorge fest of traditional English desserts, like Spotted Dick and Jam Roly Poly, hosted at a North Cotswold hotel. Since moving to England I had this idea of undertaking “the great pudding tour” to visit the namesakes of my favourite desserts, including Bakewell (tart) in the Peak District and Eccles (cake) in Manchester. I kind of ran out of ideas after that unless I really started stretching. A bus ride across London to Chelsea for a Chelsea bun? Could I blag my way into that esteemed institution for boys, Eton, for the lowdown on broken meringue and fruit known as Eton Mess without coming across like a pervey middle-aged woman? The Pudding Club seemed like a clever if slightly less interesting way to shortcut all this. Husband, also a glutton, was happy to tag along.
The Pudding Club itself turned out to be a disappointment — lots of stodge and a setting that was a little too Marriott conference room. The real highlight of the weekend was the two days of guided walks, led by The Cotswolds Wardens. Husband and I like to combine physical activity with our indulgence to ease the guilt, the next most recent example being an Alsace “cycling trip” during which we did manage to fit in some biking between the pork and Gewurtztraminer.
Our transformation to ramblers –fancy English word for hikers as far as I can tell—had begun. I knew it was so when several weeks later I found myself in a sporting goods store in the touristy Cotswold village of Broadway clutching several hundred pounds worth of waterproof gear, including a geeky and now well worn map holder “necklace,” and handing over my Visa card.