|The Library Bar at Dumbleton Hall|
Dumbleton Hall, where we were staying, is a classic Cotswold country house in its own grounds. Very stylish with five-star levels of staff attentiveness. Not quite 'if you accidentally drop your fork a waiter appears and catches it before it hits the ground' but the staff were cheerful and engaged without overdoing it.
|Evesham: a lower limit of five hours: bug or feature?|
We thought we'd do the towns the first day, starting with Evesham. I had in mind that it might be classy, but it's just another undercapitalised and under-powered provincial town, far from the glitzy dynamism of Bristol, Manchester or London.
It's defined by its mobile phone shops, charity shops, bookmakers, shabby ethnic restaurants with fading, peeling paint, the drop-in pregnancy advice bureau .. and minimum-wage jobs such as the above.
We rapidly translated to neighbouring Winchcombe. It's surprising how often in the 'England profonde' we see a gritty, down-at-heel town partnered with an adjacent chichi one. So Winchcombe is golden Cotswold sandstone, mediaeval buildings, an ancient Abbey and Castle (too expensive) and way too many antique shops. No technology more recent than 'between the wars' that I could see; very Jane Austen.
The rich who make their money elsewhere come here to relax and wealth-signal.
Day two we ventured to Lawrence Johnston's legendary Hidcote (NT), with its famous Arts and Crafts gardens. Truly a delight in the sunshine.
|The author and his wife at Hidcote - the kitchen gardens|
|Hidcote (NT): beautiful, colourful and dense|
We followed up with Snowshill Manor and Gardens (NT), where the eccentric owner had filled the manor house with his eclectic collection of - dare we say - bric-à-brac?
|Clare on the left: Snowshill Manor House in best Cotswold stone|
Yesterday we returned home, calling in at Newark Park (NT) where I had a stand-off with a rather showy peacock.
|The garden at Newark Park (NT)|
|We stare at each other: Newark Park|
The National Trust is universally seen as a collection of traditional upper middle-class insulae. Nothing wrong with that. But it's Evesham which is more typical of 'the other England' - adrift in the 1950s with a sprinkled overlay of 21st century consumer tech.
Look no further for Brexit or Theresa May: it's not a happy place.