It’s a tourist trap. Hang on to your wallet! I’m sure you’ve received similar advice when you announce to your friends and co-workers that you’re headed on vacation. Bordon-On-The-Water is one of those places and despite the good advice we received from friends and colleagues we went anyway.
To be fair it was a scheduled stop on our walking tour of the Cotswolds, right after Stow-On-The Wold. Fortunately for us it we descended the hill all day and we didn’t add on extra miles due to a misunderstanding of the directions. Our tour coordinator, Macs Adventures had made the sleeping arrangements for the night weeks before we even arrived at Heathrow airport. Because we walked downhill from Stow on the Wold into the valley we arrived in plenty of time to explore the town with its creek flowing down the middle. We arrived so early the first thing on the “to do” list was lunch.
The little bakery we choose was situated next to the creek. After we watched them make our lunch, we watched the line grow and proceed through the store. I guess we arrived just in time. Across the creek was a little private motor museum. The guys decided to return later and visit.
Our country trail ended at a street that took us the last half mile into town, but I would say the street detracted from the quaintness of this little town with the stream gently flowing along the commercial avenue at the center. With the tree lined creek and shops the whole place invited us to slow down and take it easy. While we did cross the creek and the street to see the shops on the other side, the creek, shade trees, foot bridges, and cool breeze were all the stars of the show at Bourton-On-The-Water.
I’ve included some photos to give you an idea of the mix between the old village with tiny streets and the modern mix of buildings for cars, tourists and the 21st century. The water was crystal clear, and the multiple foot bridges called out to our fellow tourists to stop and take a picture, lovers to take a stroll, and everyone to either bring a picnic lunch or stop at one of the many eateries. If New Orleans is the Big Easy, Bourton-On-The-Water is the Little Easy.
One highlight of the day was a small perfume shop that made the fragrance for the Queen. Set off the water on a small street that looked like it had been in existence since the days when this was the market town for the surrounding area, all the fragrances were unique and made from local materials. In addition to helping with the “right” perfume choice, the clerk behind the counter saved us VAT money with some timely advice about sizes and border declarations.
A small wildlife attraction used part of the creek within its fences and some clever signage called to families to spend some time and money looking at the offerings within. While we enjoyed the atmosphere we didn’t visit. On the other end of town was the motor museum and the guys had to beat the clock to see what jewels awaited us inside.
After the ladies left the guys to their ogling agenda, Ken and I sauntered, well nearly ran over. I’m sure the Triumph 650 twin outside the door had nothing to do with my interest! (You might notice the photos below are mostly of motorcycles.) We paid our fee and were greeted by this door. If you’re a fan of Dr. Who you already know what this door is about. Even though the street footprint of this little museum was small there were five buildings to hold the collection of motorcycles and cars. If you’re not a fan of Dr. Who, a running gag on the show is that the Tardis, a blue phone booth/space ship, is bigger on the inside, a line that is often repeated by visitors. As you can imagine with five total buildings this too was bigger on the inside.
What treats awaited us on the inside! Jaguars, MGs, various motor related toys from the 30’s-70’s were interspersed among gas cans, motorcycles, repair machines, old oiling cans and other assorted historical references to the glory days of British auto and motorcycle manufacturers. Rarities such as a Superior Brough, a Vincent Black Shadow, Norton, Triumph, BSA, Royal Enfield, and various Sunbeam motorcycles were on display. A variety of MG sports cars stood next to Jaguars and made for the war marques. Truly eye candy for car guys and gals. Most of the cars and motorcycles in the museum wouldn’t touch any modern transportation in terms of speed, comfort, and safety. Built by hand with mechanical tolerances that were more in the neighborhood of the specifications instead of the computer controlled spot-on machining of our day, many of these old machines were either designed to be total loss (using all the oil and in need of frequent additions) systems or lost oil as part of the operation. To own one of these old beauties today requires a person whose ownership is part driving and part maintenance/repair. For example, the owner of a motorcycle in the 1930’s-1950’s was expected to go around the bike and retighten nuts and bolts, check the valve clearances, adjust the chain between the gearbox and rear wheel, and add oil to his/her machine before taking the Sunday ride. Every time! Long after cranks were gone from automobiles and replaced by electric starters, British motorcycles still had a foot crank into the 1970’s.
Two last little notes about motorcycles before I sign off. We met a couple of young guys chewing the fat behind a bar (imagine that motorcycles and bars). One of them had a bike I didn’t recognize, and I asked him about it. It turned out the frame was designed to take several different sized motors. The idea was to change the configuration of the drivetrain as you became a more proficient rider. Lastly, while walking around looking for breakfast the following morning I saw an Ariel Square Four two pipe go by on the way to work. What’s the big deal? The bike was built in the early 1950s and this guy was using it as his daily rider. Amazing!
I’d love to hear any unique experiences you have had in a tourist trap town or village in the comments. If you’d like to get reminders of future posts why not subscribe?
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