Just as in Wales, the Cotswolds presented the daily conundrum of what to do in the dark hours between sunset (~4:30pm, coinciding with the closing time of many businesses and tourist attractions) and when it was socially acceptable to eat dinner (7pm or later). The locals' solution was to head to the pub for a pint or two, which we did on several occasions, although I dislike drinking on an empty stomach.
A highlight of that leg of the trip (highlight being a relative term because that entire area is so quaint, tranquil, and beautiful that every day I fell even more in love with it; if there's a way for me to retire out there then by God I will make it happen) was a visit to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
Being the sucker that I am for castles and period dramas, I only needed to see the name and tiny thumbnail image on Google Maps before I told my father that we had to go. Yet it wasn't until after we'd gone through the interactive tour and headed downstairs to the Churchill exhibition that the full significance of the place dawned on me.
"Dad, is this Winston Churchill as in we-will-fight-on-the-beaches Winston Churchill?" I asked, looking around at all the photos, handwritten letters, and old uniforms.
It was. For the sprawling and ridiculously opulent palace was the birth home of the former prime minister and still, to this day, the primary residence of the Dukes of Marlborough.
Recently I saw director Joe Wright's Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman rendered unrecognizable by prosthetics as Churchill during the tense weeks between his appointment to prime minister and the evacuation at Dunkirk. The character is portly, temperamental to the point of petulance on occasion, fond of cigars, and is rarely seen without a glass of an alcoholic beverage (champagne if at mealtimes, scotch at all others). Within the context of where he was born, the portrait becomes clearer.