Last month we were very humbled to receive an invitation from the Cotswolds Conservation Board to attend a reception at the Palace of Westminster (more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament!).
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (or AONB) is an area of countryside in England, Wales or Northern Ireland designated for conservation and the Cotswolds was designated such an area in 1966. It is one of 44 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and just so happens to be the largest. And most beautiful obviously – although I may be a bit biased!
I don’t get the opportunity to visit London too often and despite having lived in England all my life I’d never actually been inside the Houses of Parliament. It was a great experience. The reception took place in the Churchill Room and many Cotswolds organisations and businesses were in attendance including two of our favourites – Cotswolds Distillery and Hook Norton Brewery who’d made a special beer for the occasion.
The event was very informal and after the opportunity to meet a number of people from different organisations from the Cotswolds we all got to hear interesting presentations by the Chairman of the Cotswolds Conservation Board Liz Ayre, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP and the (then) Minister for Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) – Rory Stewart.
It was a particular highlight for me to hear Rory Stewart speak as he I was a huge fan of one his books The Places In Between – a book about his walk across Afghanistan in 2002. He really is a man with the spirit of adventure.
After the reception – ever the tourist – I headed to the public gallery to watch a debate in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords before catching the train back home.
It really was one of those pinch yourself days and I was very grateful to be involved. When I set up Go Cotswolds to take visitor on tours of the Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon in 2014 I knew it would be an interesting and varied journey but I didn’t expect it to take me to the Houses of Parliament!
Read the Cotswolds AONB’s post about the reception here: http://www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/?page=NewsView&itemid=753 and for more details about other events that are taking place in the area to celebrate the anniversary visit http://www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/50.