Things have got so bad in Londonshire – as we now call my area of the Cotswolds – that frantic house-hunters have been reduced to dropping leaflets through letterboxes. This desperate exercise is generally met with the wrong side of a German pointer and never repeated.
Houses prices in the Cotswolds are now competing with London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, according to figures released this week. A four to five-bedroom house (in the £5 million bracket) would now set you back 23.4 per cent more than it would have a few years ago, with several other bids in competition.
But this species haven’t abandoned their Birkenstocks in the capital – they’re merely expanding 80 miles west, taking their urban ways with them. This “lifestyle-creep” is the result of both the pandemic and the complexity of European second-homeownership since Brexit. Many in the Cotswolds resent this influx, but I am one of the few who welcomes it.
Thanks to the entrepreneurial property developer daughter of a friend who lives nearby, we finally have a proper coffee shop (run by two local “foodpreneurs” known as Baz and Fred) called The Twig. This is the real thing, with a sonic espresso maker, fresh daily croissants and – hoorah – decent sourdough.
Rumours are also rife that the newbie tech magnate who moved into the next village is missing his Silicon Sushi and might be opening a local outlet (let’s hope). When Jolly Nice, an amazing farm shop and cafe with the best butcher in the valley, opened down the road from Cirencester, the locals nicknamed it “Jolly Pricey”.
Yes, the homemade ice-cream is the cost of a mortgage (somewhere), but the queues of well-dressed folk at the till – fashion writer Plum Sykes is a regular – suggests it is not targeting members of the former Glostocracy (went to Cirencester Agricultural College, wears a signet ring, smells of horses). Where Londoners go, London follows. And when it comes to food and yoga, I’m all in.
It didn’t take long for certain sets to establish themselves in these parts. Though the Kingham area is most mentioned because it’s where the Beckhams and Jeremy Clarkson live, and where Daylesford and Soho Farmhouse reside, Londonshire extends to my area of Burford, Bibury and Tetbury; the Stroud valley, which is essentially British Vogue in the mud. New residents can be broken down to the following tribes.
This is the most powerful colony, with its own language and habits, one of which is never to be seen on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Made up mostly of finance, media and tech (Sir Jony Ive) types, as well as rock’n’rollers (Damon Albarn, Ellie Goulding), ’Tweeners have created a lifestyle that evades criticism. Many magically appear at Beaufourt Hunt on a Monday – and can actually ride. They also host the best local shoots, such as Overbury, midweek in November, leaving many wondering how exactly they also chair several companies in London.
The ’Tweeners show up at church and local council meetings, and are generous hosts: the only downside is that they hoard all the gardeners, housekeepers and grooms.
The male species can be spotted by the quality of his (not cashmere) sweater. It is neither moth-eaten (meaning he’s no aristo) nor neatly pressed (Chelsea). It’s wrinkled enough to suggest a “sporty” attitude.
Large swathes of these valleys are inhabited by ’Tweeners, but behind their backs they’re pejoratively called “London folk”. This is because, when Covid restrictions relax, many vanish to the capital, in quest of Deliveroo.