I’m writing this early December; the snow is thick on the ground, and I couldn’t be happier. 

You see, I’m a complete nut when it comes to the white stuff. It’s not logical at all; I realise that. It disrupts travel, is incredibly hard on wildlife, can make walking hazardous, causes all sorts of problems when the thaw comes... but – BUT – it’s pure magic.

The world takes on a gentle hush when blanketed in snow. The busy day-to-day thrum of traffic is muffled... and there are far fewer cars on the road, anyway. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but It’s a time to slow down, get into the rhythm of the season, and realise that we’re one small part of that big old world out there. While out walking today, I couldn’t help finding myself making comparisons with Covid and the height of lockdown, when we all paused for a while to consider our place in the grand scheme of things: the birdsong; the way Nature made a play to reclaim her wildness; how the few people out and about would acknowledge each other with an almost-imperceptible nod and a smile; the reassessing of priorities... 

We tread softly across the fresh snow – that creaking cornflour sound as your foot sinks deeper – and know that new life is waiting patiently to reveal itself. 

Now is the time when winter aconite and snowdrops are biding their time to come out of hiding, break through the snow and frosty ground to bring promises of warmer days ahead. If that’s not pure magic, then I don’t know what is. And we’re so lucky in this area for places to experience some of the most beautiful displays of these flowering marvels: Painswick Rococo Garden, Colesbourne Park, Rodmarton Manor, Cerney House Gardens, Batsford Arboretum, Cotswold Farm at Duntisbourne Abbots... I could go on, so I’d probably best stop now. 

You’ll find that our own Mandy Bradshaw pays a visit to Painswick Rococo Garden in this issue, delighting in the emerging Galanthus amongst the follies and woodland, and, though she’s visited many times before, the sense of awe she experiences is a delight to read about. We also speak to the Cotswold pilot behind those smiley faces in the sky many of you will have seen during lockdown; find out some of the secrets of the ghosts of Owlpen Manor; and catch up with our old friend, the graphic artist and illustrator Tony Meeuwissen. 

Oh, and if you’re reading this with a little time on your hands and a sense of adventure for the year ahead, turn the pages to find our 2023 event guide and start making plans... 

Happy New Year! x 


Candia McKormack 

Editor, Cotswold Life magazine 

Twitter: @cotslifeeditor 


Three things we learned this month... 

Too sexy for my book 
Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov considered Tony Meeuwissen’s artwork too saucy for his book cover. 
Page 16 


Rime of the Ancient Mariner 
Woodstock-born sailor Simon Hatley shot an albatross while drunk, inspiring Coleridge’s famous poem. 
Page 112 


Tales from the Temple of Vaccinia 
In the Georgian era, smallpox killed 20 per cent of the population in towns and cities. 
Page 198