DINING TABLE FOR FREE

Cotswold calm Michael Watkins visits Buckland Manor in Gloucestershire, a splendid survival of old-fashioned service Tt is tempting to speculate whether Chipping Norton and Broadway are twinned with Okinawa, for Japanese are out in strength, photographing everything that moves and eating anything that doesn’t. Yet Buckland, so close in distance, remains inviolate, its loins girded against infraction. It is a dead-end village; not that it has given up the ghost, merely that you can get there and come back: it offers no short cut to Gomorrah or anywhere else. DINING TABLE FOR FREE There is Buckland Manor, grafted like an architectural Siamese twin on to St Michael’s church; several cottages; and a wooded hill crowned by prehistoric earthworks. It glances towards the Malvern Hills, with wistful Wales beyond. It is deluged with light which bounces at you so you screw up your eyes. I noticed this at once. Then I noticed the Manor’s car park. If you can judge a gentleman from his shoes, a lady from her underclothes, angelic children from the haloes hovering above their little heads – so you can judge a hotel from its car park. Stretch limousines with darkened bullet-proof glass suggest that you will be in the company of hoods or twerps. You are perfectly safe with muddied Rovers; while the medieval Volvo estate with a smelly wet Labrador misting up the windows is probably mine. (Vintage Morris Minor Travellers are the exclusive property of the landed gentry, who never stay in hotels.) I was immensely comfortable with Buckland’s parking arrangements.


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