The first time somebody suggested I visited Stow on the Wold, all my French ears were able to make out was a mixture between Stone the Wall and Stan Laurel. If I did get there in the end, I only have Google to thank since by entering several variations of what I had heard, the search “sto the wall cotswolds” actually brought back sites and images of this underrated Cotswolds town. Merci Google. I enjoyed Stow (let’s call it just that) even though I suspect the cold grey day I visited it didn’t do it justice entirely. The numerous tourists in the area are often thirsty for yellow limestone hamlets, thatched roofed cottages and run down bridges over shallow streams in the middle of undulating greenery. I, too am taken with this but Stow is like a grown up version of these little hamlets. Not necessarily as pretty as the babies but with more interesting things to say. I think Stow is a good example of a Cotswold town. It is one of the largest and also the highest in the Cotswolds (244m) but what I especially appreciate is that it has not surrendered to the Boots, Gap, Smith, Next, KFC sequence seen everywhere else. Most of the shops there are independent and the closest thing to a chain restaurant is the excellent local Huffkins tearoom. Everything is a bit niche and quaint but that’s the charm of Cotswolds towns and makes for very pleasant strolling around. Not to be missed is the magical St Edwards church right in the centre. The church itself is a mixture of styles as it grew from the 13th century onwards but the main attraction is its 17th century porch, flanked by two yew trees that make it look like a passage to Middle Earth. Failing this, it is an invitation to let your imagination loose. Cars do tend to spoil many an idyllic shot but then this is the sign the place is dynamic and attracts locals and visitors alike whilst resisting the High Street Cloning Syndrome. Stow made me think of these houses people feel more inclined to buy because they smell of bread being baked. It has yellow limestone, it has greenery, it has churches with a cemetery growing wild around it, and it has picturesque tearooms though it is somewhat lived in and messy; but after all, aren’t all places with a heart?