Editor’s comment December 2013

Cotswold Life editor, Mike Lowe

Cotswold Life editor, Mike Lowe - Credit: Archant

Cotswold Life’s editor, Mike Lowe, reminisces about what has made 2013 in the Cotswolds memorable - from the ubiquity of scotch eggs in gastro pubs, to the bodged badger cull that divided opinion in the region.

As we reach the end of another year, it’s perhaps time to look back and take stock.

We begin with my favourite place – the dining table. This was the year of the ‘dirty’ burger: a juicy, beefy, cheesy affair that led to paper tablecloths and grease-stained cuffs. We also saw the arrival of street food, most notably from the Wiggly Worm’s delightful vintage van, catering for hungry shoppers by day and the hungry homeless at night.

And standards everywhere continued to soar. It really is difficult to get a truly awful meal anywhere in the Cotswolds – difficult, but not impossible. I am not wholly impressed with the arrival of the ubiquitous Scotch egg on gastropub menus. With a few notable exceptions, they’re like eating a large breadcrumbed brick. (See what I did there? Chef complains. Ah, but you were one of the notable exceptions. Chef goes away happy.)

Sadly we’ve still got the Curse of the Slate lingering on in too many places. Now I know chefs might think it looks pretty, but I actually want my food served on a good, old-fashioned plate, not a plank of wood or a roof tile. And anyway, how can you eat gravy from a roof tile? It’s madness.

Away from the trough, we still suffer from lazy London journalism where anything in Gloucestershire is described as being “close to Prince Charles’s Highgrove estate”. And we still suffer from equally lazy references to the mythical ‘Chipping Norton set’, roundly debunked elsewhere in this magazine. As I was only saying to Liz Hurley down at the bottle bank this morning, goodness knows what it will be like when the Beckhams move in.

This year has seen an increasing number of Chinese tourists, who are certainly different – and more diffident – than the Japanese visitors we’re used to. (I was at the marvellous Lords of the Manor hotel when I found a Japanese girl with a camera wandering around the corridors. “Is this a hotel?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “Oh, I thought it was someone’s house, ” she replied. Well that’s all right then...)

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On a more contentious front, the attempted – and probably bodged – badger cull has caused damaging divisions within the countryside, and descended to ridiculous levels with talk of milk boycotts and the actions of protesters who stuck up a sign saying ‘Welcome to Gloucestershire – We shoot badgers here’. The local economy does not need that kind of spiteful meddling.

Finally, can we please do something about the fireworks season? It used to be that their use was restricted by common practice to the night of November 5th and the closest weekend to that date. This year, for some reason, we had three whole weeks of booms and bangs, which is no fun at all when you’ve got a couple of jittery dogs who don’t know where the next pyrotechnic is going to pop up from. Now I’m the last person to advocate any more laws restricting freedom of action, but I really do think that in this case, Something Must Be Done.

So there we have it. Farewell to 2013; bring on 2014. And may you all have a very happy New Year.


Follow Mike on Twitter: @cotslifeeditor

Or contact him on: mike.lowe@archant.co.uk