10 Best Things to Do in the Cotswolds

One of the most naturally beautiful parts of the United Kingdom, the gorgeous Cotswolds stretch between just south of Stratford-upon-Avon and slightly south of Bath: making it an area of substantial size and giving every traveller a lot of things to do. The boundaries of the beautiful counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire are covered under the Cotswold region. The Cotswolds are characterized by cute little small towns and villages built using the Cotswold stone (which gives the region its name). The Cotswolds are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (check out the pictures below and you will know why). The entire region is filled with rolling green hills, miniature canals, chocolate box cottages, low priced hotels and a really high standard of produce to tantalise everybody’s taste buds. So, if that’s got your travelling juices flowing, check out

The 10 best things to do in the Cotswolds:

1. Abbey House Gardens

Abbey House Gardens

Located in Malmesbury, the oldest town of England, the Abbey House Gardens are a privately owned country house garden.
The Abbey House Gardens are open daily between the months of April and September. The Abbey House Gardens are one of the chief attractions of the ancient Iron Age town of Malmesbury. The Abbey House Gardens are a Grade I listed building, and were extensively renovated during Tudor times. The public admission fee of £8 is for seeing the gardens rather than the house itself. The owners of the Abbey House Gardens are keen gardeners and naturists themselves. The owners also hold several ‘Clothing Optional’ days throughout the year. If you and your family are not used to nudity or easily offended, do check on this before visiting the Abbey House Gardens or you might end up seeing way more than you bargained for. Once you are done with the sightseeing, you can enjoy the delicious refreshments at the Coy Carp Cafe. The cafe is named so because visitors can enjoy their cup of tea while feeding a vast number of fish at the same time.

2. The Wild Rabbit

 The Wild Rabbit

This extremely fancy pub with rooms is located in Chipping Norton. The Wild Rabbit is designed to be a cosy inn which serves as a home away from home. The rooms are extremely luxurious and the popular restaurant serves a delectable selection of Daylesford-farmed produce. Equipped with roaring fireplaces, organic food menu and soft Egyptian-cotton bedlinen, the Wild Rabbit checks on all the boxes for a quintessential posh English pub.

3. Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum

One of the most famous and important arboretums in the UK, the Westonbirt Arboretum forms part of a Grade I listed site on the register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest. Located just three miles from Tetbury, the Westonbirt Arboretum was established during Victorian times. Co-incidentally, the Westonbirt Arboretum backs right onto Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate. The Westonbirt Arboretum is spread over 600 acres and contains over 18,000 trees and shrubs. It’s divided into two sections, ‘The Old Arboretum’ and ‘Silk Wood’. The Silk Wood is a traditional woodland, and the Old Arboretum is meticulously designed with stately avenues lined with rare and exotic trees. The Old Arboretum also features an illuminated trail which runs through it every December as a part of the Christmas celebrations. The Westonbirt Arboretum is beautiful across all four seasons and has something beautiful to offer for tourists throughout the year. Admission charges are £8 for adults.

4. Arlington Row

Arlington Row

Located in Bibury, Arlington Row has been described as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ by William Morris. No trip to the Cotswolds can be complete without visiting the Arlington Row. It is easily one of the most photographed sites in England. This row of 14th century stone cottages is quintessential Cotswolds.

5. Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold

Located right in the heart of the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold is a historic, picture-perfect and quintessentially Cotswolds town. It is very well known for having some of the UK’s very best antique shops. This cute and abundantly characterful town was once very well renowned for its wool trade. The town’s large market square used to feature up to 20,000 sheep being sold at one point of time. When in Stow-on-the-Wold, don’t forget to check out St. Edwards Church. It is very famous for it’s gorgeous north door, which is flanked by two ancient yew trees. It’s not hard to believe the rumour that this Fairytale-esque feature inspired Tolkien’s ‘Doors of Durin’ in Lord of the Rings. With a surprising number of superb delis and restaurants for such a small town, The Old Butchers is the local favourite. As the name suggests, it’s a former butchers and now restaurant, serving meat and seafood in equal measure.

6. Bourton-on-the-water

Bourton-on-the-water

A perennial feature on the ‘prettiest villages in Britain’ list, Bourton-on-the-Water is worth the detour to see its lovely high street with the beautiful river Windrush running through it. Cute little arched stone bridges run across the river, and a lit Christmas tree is erected in the middle of the river during December. Get those waterside selfies in and check out the nearby Dragonfly Maze (an elaborate hedge maze). Birdland Park and Gardens lie down the road, for every penguin or parrot fan. The gorgeous village also holds a cute farmer’s market on the fourth Sunday of each month.

7. Soho Farmhouse

Soho Farmhouse

Situated at Great Tew, near Chipping Norton, the Soho Farmhouse is a gorgeous member’s club spread across Oxfordshire’s scenic 100 acres countryside. Fortunately you don’t have to actually be a Soho House member to stay at this glorious farmhouse. ‘Farmhouse’ probably gives the wrong idea – with a Cowshed spa, onsite country pub, boathouse (with indoor and outdoor pools on a lake), multiple restaurants, cookery school, farmshop, kitchen garden and cinema, this is more of a luxurious resort. If the weather permits, you can go horse riding, play tennis, or go rowing. If it’s raining, huddle up by the log fire in the main barn, with a stiff drink to get you warmer. The hotel accommodation ranges from studio cabins (complete with little wood burners and porches) to bell tents, or even an entire farm house.

8. Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor

Located in Kelmscott, the Kelmscott Manor is the Cotswolds retreat of William Morris, his friends and family. Famous British textile designer (among numerous other things) William Morris loved Kemscott Manor so much that his wife purchased it after his death in 1896. His daughter May spent much of her adult life there, and the entire family is buried in the grounds of nearby St. George’s Church. Morris drew inspiration from Kelmscott Manor for many of his famous and significant designs and writings. With its beautiful gardens, barns, meadow and stream, it’s not difficult to understand Morris’s attachment to the house. The Kelmscott Manor is filled with furniture, original textiles, pictures and paintings, ceramics and metalwork. Fans of Morris’s distinctive textile designs will love the gift shop (pick up a cushion or throw blanket) and there’s an onsite tearoom, too. The Kelmscott Manor is must-see for Pre-Raphaelite aficionados.

9. Tisanes Tea Rooms

Tisanes Tea Rooms

Located in Broadway, Tisanes Tea Rooms are inside a gorgeous 17th century stone building. In the modern world of Starbucks, traditional English tearooms are few and far between. Fortunately, the Tisanes Tea Rooms is an old fashioned Cotswolds establishment that will transport you straight back to the 1940s (minus the war). The Broadway setting is as picturesque as one might expect, and the menu is comfortingly classic (well-priced, too). Pick up a cured ham sandwich, a scone and jam and choose from an extensive array of over 30 different teas during your visit to the Cotswolds. While in the area, pop into The Gordon Russell Museum. Celebrating the work of the renowned furniture designer, the museum was opened in 2008 by Sir Terence Conran and is housed in the original Grade II listed drawing office and workshop. The shop has a spectacular collection of work by local craftsmen, including (but not limited to) stylish home furnishings.

10. Whichford

Whichford

The gorgeous village of Whichford and its surrounding area is home to loads of magical brews, salvage yards and a pottery workshop. Visit the family-run Whichford Pottery to dine at their cosy café and pick up a hand-thrown, frost-proof flower pot. If you have some time on your hands and fancy making a day of the visit, walk a few minutes down the road to check out Cox’s Architectural Salvage Yard after Whichford Pottery. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised with bargain finds, like Belfast sinks, reclaimed floor boards and quirky reclaimed bathroom fittings. Finish your day off with a trip to the local Cotswolds Distillery for a tour, tasting or to pick up a bottle of gin, whisky or (for the truly daring ones) absinthe.

MC Wiley Calls Ed Sheeran and Drake ‘Culture Vultures’ on BBC’s 1Xtra

MC Wiley, who is famously known as the ‘Godfather of Grime’ has suddenly taken up arms against global superstars Ed Sheeran and Drake. Wiley appeared on BBC’s 1Xtra and pulled no punches in his criticism of Sheeran and Drake. However, Wiley is well known for engaging in such endeavours whenever he is about to release a new album.

Speaking to the 1Xtra’s host Dotty, Wiley started off by quoting one of Sheeran’s most successful songs: “I’m mad at Ed Sheeran because he said ‘You need me man, I don’t need you’.

But Ed, the other day mate, you had to use grime to tip your song over the edge.”

Wiley was referencing the remix to Take Me Back to London – which was produced by fabled grime producer and DJ Sir Spyro and featured famous grime artists such as Stormzy, Jaykae and Aitch. The Ed Sheeran remix also reached number one on the chart.

Wiley continued his angry rant: “Listen, we helped that guy get into the picture. I done something for him – ‘You’. It’s on his album, isn’t it? So when I went to do my one I was told, ‘You can’t do this, Ed can’t do the video. You can’t use Ed’, basically.

“He didn’t want to stand up to his label – he folded.

“I knew life wasn’t fair, but I didn’t know it was this unfair.

“Everyone thinks I’m mad. I’m not mad. I’m not mad – Ed Sheeran knows what I’m talking about.”

He added: “When Ed wants to do something that’s OK. But when we want to do something with Ed? We can’t.”

Wiley also went on to mention the numerous artists whose songs Ed Sheeran has allegedly ripped off to become one of the biggest music artists in the world today. Wiley said: “Listen, Ed Sheeran – you are a culture vulture and I’m not listening to you anymore. I’ve listened to you rip off Marvin Gaye, I’ve listened to you rip off everything. I see you do a tune the other day with Justin Bieber that sounds like a tune from Sting. No-one is not saying nothing about that though. So I’m not listening. I’m finished with these people. I swear to God.”

BBC Top Gear Co-Host Freddie Flintoff Returns to Filming After Horrific Crash

Top Gear co-host and former English International Cricketer Freddie Flintoff suffered a horrific crash while shooting a drag race for the show’s upcoming 28th season. However, despite the apparent severity of the crash, Flintoff emerged unscathed and has returned to the set for filming.

Freddie Flintoff has assured fans that he is completely fine after being involved in a devastating accident on set.

The horrific crash happened while Flintoff was driving a super-powered Time Bandit during a drag race for an upcoming segment at the Elvington Airfield earlier this week. Flintoff went over the limit as he overshot the runway and skidded on the grass nearby.

The Mirror reported that Flintoff was examined by the medical team inside an on-set ambulance and he was cleared to resume filming the show on Wednesday.

Flintoff opened up about the crash. He said: “I’m absolutely fine and was back filming today. I go to great lengths to make sure I do well in Top Gear drag races but on this occasion I went a few lengths too far.

When asked about how dangerously close he was to a major accident, Flintoff said: “It will look more ridiculous than dangerous when you see it on TV.”

Co-incidentally, Elvington Airfield is the same place where former Top Gear and current Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond suffered his horrific accident in 2006. Hammond was driving a jet-powered car at 288 miles per hour when he lost control and the car overturned and tumbled on the grass around the runway. Hammond’s injuries were severe, including brain damage. However, he made a complete recovery and returned to the show. In his own words, the only difference in Hammond’s life as a result of the accident was the fact that he ‘liked celery after the crash and he didn’t before’.

Hammond went on to have another serious crash in 2017 when he drove his Rimac supercar off the side of a hill in Switzerland. Luckily, he survived that too.

A spokesperson from the BBC also spoke about Flintoff’s crash: “As viewers of the recent series will have seen, Freddie is often keen to get ‘off the beaten track’

Tuesday’s filming at Elvington Airfield was no exception – but he suffered no injuries as a result of his spontaneous detour, as fans will see for themselves when we show the sequence in full in the next series.

Top Gear returns with a Christmas Special later this year. The regular 28th season will follow the special.

York Minster is Selling Historic Organ Pipes for Raising Refurbishment Funds

The York Minster’s grand organ’s pipes are being auctioned online to raise funds for the instrument’s refurbishment. The refurbishment cost is expected to be around £2 million and the auction is expected to generate enough money for it.

The grand organ’s 30 pipes date from the early part of the 19th century. They were constructed when a new organ was built after the old one was destroyed in a church arson attack. The pipes have stayed silent for over the last 100 years though.

When the “once-in-a-century” refurbishment is complete, 70 pipes of the grand organ will be restored and it will be back in ‘musical use’.

The grand organ’s case has had pipes around it since 1832 and the initial attempt was to repair and refurbish all of them. However, 30 pipes were found to be in a state which was beyond repair. The only thing that could be done was replace them with new ones.

The 20 ton organ, along with its 5,043 pipes has been removed from the minster for the repair work. The refurbishment process will include replacement of the organ’s mechanism and general intensive cleaning.

70 pipes are undergoing restoration in a chapel at the minster. Graining and marbling specialists are working hard at it. The restored pipes will also feature distinctive gold, green, red, and cream decorations of the original.

The grand organ will return to the minster early next year and will be back in use by autumn of 2020.

Neil Sanderson, director of the York Minster Fund, said: “The auction is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to own a piece of York Minster’s musical heritage, while supporting the future of organ music at the cathedral throughout the 21st century and beyond.

Although, where possible, we have tried to retain and refurbish the instrument’s original features, unfortunately around 30% of the case pipes were beyond economic repair.

Three of these pipes will be kept in our historic collection as a record of the instrument but the remaining 30 are being offered for auction to raise funds towards the once-a-century refurbishment project.

The auction of the pipes runs until September 27th.

Mystery Illness Killing Dogs in Norway

Hundreds of dogs all over Norway have been sickened by a mysterious and potentially contagious bowel disease that has even turned fatal in some cases. Norwegian dog owners have been advised to keep their pets from socializing with each other for the time being as reports of this mysterious disease continue to pile up.

According to a representative from AniCura Norge, a veterinary hospital in Oslo, the death toll for the dogs had risen to 26 by Tuesday.

Norwegian Food Safety released a statement which said that the post-mortem examinations haven’t been able to provide conclusive answers. As mysterious as the cause of the illness might be, the symptoms are present all over the country. Dogs have had prolonged phases of diarrhoea, vomiting and fatigue as a result of that. As per Norway’s Veterinary Institute, 200 dogs have suddenly fallen sick.

The initial reports started reaching the Norwegian Food Safety Authority from veterinarians in the capital, Oslo. Soon, reports from Bergen in the west coast and Nordland from the northern region of the country also started coming in.

As per a statement released by the Food Safety Authority on Tuesday: “A mixed culture of two types of bacteria, Providencia alcalifaciens and Clostridium perfringens, was found in some dogs’ guts. The bacteria are sometimes associated with diarrhea in people as well as dogs. But we can’t conclude that these are the cause of the symptoms we see.

One of the other causes theorized by the investigators connects the disease with the unusually large number of wild mushrooms growing this year. Along with parasite infection, the wild mushroom theory is still under consideration by the Food Safety Authority.

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has ruled out Salmonella and rat poison as a possible cause of the disease.

Sadly, the medium of spread of the disease has still not been discovered. In fact, researchers are still not sure whether the disease is even contagious, or whether all the sick dogs are showing symptoms of the same disease.

Nonetheless, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has advised pet owners to avoid letting their dogs near “dressage courses, exhibitions, hunting trials and the like” until more information is released through the investigation.

Hamar resident Torstein Holten talked about her seven year old dog Lexi. She told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that Lexi was perfectly healthy when she went for a run last week. However, she started vomiting and was stricken with diarrhoea the very next day.

She was taken to a veterinarian last Thursday who advised the family to bring Lexi back in case her symptoms worsened. Sadly, Lexi passed away the next morning.

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has circulated a questionnaire among veterinarians throughout the country to try and get to the root of the mystery illness affecting Norway’s dogs.

Fortunately, no human being has been affected by this disease so far.

Google Blew iPhone Hacking Report ‘Out of Proportion’: Apple

Last week’s Google’s Project Zero’s report has firmly placed Apple on the defensive. Google’s researchers said that iOS was constantly being targeted with a sophisticated attack for two years. Until Google alerted Apple, the attacks didn’t stop. However, Apple has come out in its defence and claimed that Project Zero blew the whole thing out of proportion.

Project Zero is a group at Google whose speciality lies in uncovering zero-day hacks that threaten internet users. According to that group, a large number of websites deployed hacks to install malware that could gain root access on the iPhone. With those hacks, those sites’ operators stole date, phone location and gained access to the end user’s password storage as well. According to Google: “The attacks operated over a period of at least two years and covered almost every version of iOS active during that time”

A press release released by Apple disputed parts of Google’s findings. The main point of contention was the duration of the attack. Instead of the two years as per Google’s Project Zero report, Apple claimed that the attacks only lasted for two months. According to Apple, the company was familiar with those flaws and working towards fixing them. However, this claim is impossible to verify and sounds quite suspect.

According to Apple, the attacks were mainly focused on the Uyghurs, Western China’s group of ethnically Turkic Muslims. The Uyghurs have been constantly persecuted by the Chinese Government for years now. Their religious beliefs in an officially atheist country has been a major source of conflict with the Chinese Government. Methods like iPhone hacks have been regularly used by the Chinese Government to track and investigate the Uyghurs.

Even though Google’s Project Zero is renowned for conducting its business without favouritism, Apple has suggested that Google has tried to make the flaws seem much worse than they actually are. Responding to Apple’s criticism, Project Zero issued a statement where it stood by its “in-depth research which was written to focus on the technical aspects of these vulnerabilities.”

With a new iPhone scheduled to be unveiled this week, Apple is understandably acting more sensitive than usual. Unlike Android’s open source system, Apple’s closed software helps it patch vulnerabilities and weaknesses without everyone knowing about it. Perhaps a major flaw in such a closed system has embarrassed Apple too much to accept it openly.

Pretty Woman: The Musical to Open in London West End in 2020

Pretty Woman: The Musical is set to hit the UK’s shores in 2020. London’s fabled West End will be the venue where the musical will be performed.

The musical is based on the 1990 smash hit Pretty Woman. The film starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, and is beloved by fans today as well. The performances will begin from the month of February at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Pretty Woman was a hit on Broadway and closed its highly successful run last month. Manx actress and singer Samantha Barks made her Broadway debut by playing the lead character of Vivian last summer.

The movie that the musical is based on, features the story of Vivian, a prostitute played by Julia Roberts who is hired by a rich businessman played by Richard Gere. Even though he solicits the services of a sex worker, Gere’s character spends more time with her as a companion rathed than a sexual partner. Eventually, they fall in love and get together despite their extremely dissimilar backgrounds.

Aside from the endearing performances by its lead cast members, Pretty Woman is also fondly remembered for the memorable songs featured in it. The movie featured original songs from Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Screenwriter J.F. Lawton and director Garry Marshall also wrote a book of the same title. Jerry Mitchell, the director of Legally Blonde and Kinky Boots directed and choreographed the Broadway show.

Oh, Pretty Woman, the famous song by Roy Orbison which inspired the name of the movie, is also featured in the musical.

The set design of the musical is provided by David Rockwell while Gregg Barnes has designed the costume. Philip S. Rosenberg and Kenneth Posner are incharge of lighting while the sound design is done by John Shivers. All of that is smartly orchestrated by Will Van Dyke. The casting for the UK version of the show is yet to be announced.

The show’s curtains will raise on Valentine’s Day 2020. General sale of tickets is scheduled to start from September 13th. Priority access pre-sale tickets are available as of today as well. Book yours here.

The UK Stands on the Brink of a Major Opioid Crisis

A recent health study has revealed that an astonishingly alarming number of British adults have been hooked on to highly addictive prescription opioids.

An astonishing one in eight Britons is dependent on prescription drugs and a total of five million adults receive prescription painkillers every year. With fears of an American level opioid crisis, an inquiry was initiated to gauge the scale of the opioid use in the UK. The country’s opioid usage rate is growing at the third fastest rate in the world.

The Sunday Times reported that Health Secretary Matt Hancock was shocked by the findings which revealed that over 40 million prescriptions for opioid-based prescription painkillers are being issued all over across the UK.

Opioid based pills are only supposed to be consumed for a few days or weeks at most. However, then Public Health England investigation revealed that over 540,000 Britons have consumed opioids for over three years.

Speaking about the findings, Health Secretary Hancock said: “We have seen the devastation opioid addiction has caused in America and I am determined to tackle it head on before it goes any further here. Painkillers have an important role in pain management, but when not used properly they can destroy lives.

Earlier this year, Health Secretary Hancock had also talked about plans of introducing cigarette style warning labels on opioid based painkiller packets as a way to tackle painkiller addiction.

Creation of a set of guidelines for General Practitioners on prescribing opioids and how to ease patients off them have been announced by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence watchdog. However, medical organisations and patients have insisted that a lot more must be done in that field.

The PHE is expected to reveal the extent of dependency on other prescription drugs as well. These drugs include anti-anxiety medications as well. A set of  recommendations to tackle the issue will also be released. 

Dr Andrew Green of the British Medical Association said: “We need significant investment in support services to enable patients and GPs to manage dependencies.”

Dr. Green also added that there was an urgent need for helping patients who are struggling with prescription medication addiction. 

Opioids are some of the most powerful pain-management medications available today. They produce morphine-like effects and are used for the management of moderate to severe pain. Opioids work by blocking the pain signals travelling between the brain and the body. Some of the commonly used opioids are codeine and tramadol.  

NFL: Oakland Raiders Release All-Pro Wide Receiver Antonio Brown

One of the most drama filled months in Oakland Raiders franchise history (and that’s saying something about a franchise like the Oakland Raiders) has finally come to an end. All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, who the Raiders acquired via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers has been released by the team. The Raiders had signed Brown to a $30 million guaranteed contract. However, over $29 million of that contract has been voided because of Brown’s actions. He flew to training camp in a hot air balloon, cold-burned his foot in a cryogenic chamber, refused to show up for some practice sessions and got into a non-physical altercation with his General Manager.

Antonio Brown’s behaviour with the Raiders was widely criticized by most NFL analysts. Newly appointed Raiders GM Mike Mayock slapped a $54,000 fine on Brown for missing practice. Brown showed his intense displeasure at that action by posting a picture of the official Raiders document mentioning the fine.

Once the post was published by Brown, GM Mayock was very upset at him and that led to a non-physical altercation between the two which was even witnessed by some other players. Brown apologized for his behaviour later and was slated to appear in the Raiders’ season opener against the Denver Broncos. Raiders coach Jon Gruden had released this statement less than 24 hours ago: “Antonio is back today … We’re really excited about that. We’re ready to move on. He’s obviously had a lot of time to think about things. We’re happy to have him back, and I know Raider nation is excited about that too.”

However, once the news of Brown’s imminent release started circulating the NFL air, Gruden’s statement changed drastically. He said: “I’m emotional about it, hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy, I think Antonio is a great receiver, and I think deep down, I think he’s a really good guy. So I’m frustrated. I’m not going to say any more about it. Hope it all works out. But I don’t have anything official to say about anything else until I get all the facts, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Prior to his release, Brown posted this on his Instagram page:

The caption read: “I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines. Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years…Release me.”

The Raiders released him soon after that and his agent Drew Rosenhaus said in a statement to CNN: “Now that Antonio is a free agent, we are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team. Antonio is looking forward to a new beginning.”

Brown will be entering his 10th NFL season, his first as a free agent. Despite his behavioural shortcomings, he’d be a massive steal for any team which signs him to a non-guaranteed contract in the ball-park of $3-$5 million per year.