I make no secret of my love for The Cotswolds.
In fact I even get email alerts every time a new house goes up for sale, giving me a little jolt of excitement thinking that it may just be my very own version of the cottage from The Holiday. A little golden stone cottage with a thatch roof, a kitchen that opens out onto a garden and is surrounded on all sides by absolutely nothing. Somewhere to drink rosé in the sunshine, while a hundred rescue dogs run a-mock and chickens scratch happily in the dirt.
To me the Cotswolds are just heaven, and I certainly don’t let the fact that I’ve only ever visited on beautiful sunny weekends stop me from fantasising about making The Big Move.
I grew up in the countryside you see. But I’ve also been completely spoiled by city life. I like popping out for avocado toast, a proper cappuccino, maybe a ginger shot (though I draw the line at kale, thanks), I like dropping into Gucci on a whim and buying fig candles from Bamford.
These are not things you can do in very many rural places. But you can in The Cotswolds!
One village in particular has all of these things in spades…
Somewhere I’d never been before, but fell immediately in love with.
A shiny new village, most unlike the ancient Cotswold villages that usually spring to mind, but no less charming.
I couldn’t have been more excited to explore!
White cotton dress
Brown belt // Canvas bag
All clad in wood, like something fresh out of Nantucket, what may look like a flower-filled sleepy country village from afar, is nothing of the sort.
It’s quite simply the chicest little hamlet you’ll ever stumble upon, just feast your peepers on these residents…
Yes yes, all your favourite faces.
But this ain’t just any old shopping centre, oh no.
Everything is wildly (and I mean wildly) discounted. A dream come true for any fashion loving bargain hunter.
Besides the big players there are fun little pop-ups, too.
Like this wonderful pop-up, Brides Do Good.
A place to buy pre-loved wedding dresses, where the 1/3 of the proceeds go towards eradicating child marriages.
Vera Wang, Galia Lahav, Monique Lhuillier, Pronovias, you name it, they’re bound to have your dream designer’s creation (at 70% off).
You can shop online or pop into the shop to try things on and really see how incredible these gowns are.
They support an incredible charity called Too Young To Wed, which is well worth reading about when you have a mo.
You’ll find Brides Do Good at the village until the 14th of May, so be sure to pop in if you’re dress shopping!
There really is no lovelier time to visit than right now, with spring in full bloom.
We couldn’t help but comment on the beauty of the floral installations blooming all over the street…
…and then it all became crystal clear.
It’s Nikki (my wedding florist!)’s handiwork.
And blooming lovely handiwork it is too!
We walked from one end of the village to the other, bargain hunting and enjoying the cool spring sunshine.
Before taking a leisurely break at Farmshop.
It wouldn’t be a mother-daughter outing without a drop of pink, after all!
Back out in the sunshine, we continued our assault.
Bicester Village sponsored this post, so kindly hooked us up with their velvet rope “Valet Parking” service, which (obviously) takes care of parking, but also gives you an extra discount card and offers “hands free” shopping where they collect all of your bags and take them to the car for you (or they can ship them home if you like).
Leaving you footloose and fancy free to get on with the important stuff!
Like finding the ultimate Wedding Weekend outfits for Italy!
(As if we needed any excuse to shop!)
You know I don’t take partnering with a brand lightly, so please take my word on this, Bicester Village is a total dream.
I can’t stand outlet or sale shopping, not because I don’t love a bargain (I do) but I hate to rummage. I like things laid out properly as they should be, and I don’t want to be elbowed out of the way by ferocious shoppers.
So Bicester was something of a revelation. Every shop was beautifully merchandised, the staff were utterly charming and went out of their way to help in every way they could (a far cry from the snooty “high end” service you often experience in big cities) and the discounts actually made everything very reasonable.
You get the feeling you’re just shopping on Rodeo Drive, but there’s a secret sale, just for you!
After a very successful haul, we sniffed out one of mum’s favourite places.
I left her in the sunshine, and went to get “just coffees”.
Blue & white dress
But you know me…
I can resist everything, except temptation!
We chatted through our respective finds, giggled excitedly about everything that’s still to come this summer, while our chaperone snoozed.
(Dogs are only allowed in bags, something he was initially quite cross about but soon settled into and didn’t want to get out again!)
Red leather tote
The perfect girl’s day out in the country!
Not a muddy puddle in sight.