Supercars, insta-influencers and Jeremy Clarkson’s farm — what’s happened to my beloved Cotswolds?

I’m enjoying a nut smoothie while listening to the chatter around me in The Legbar cafe. It’s part of Daylesford Farm Shop’s sprawling complex. To my left is a man shouting into his phone how to get his containers from China. A woman describes her latest GBP335 Bella Freud 1970 Cashmere jumper. The Kensington set are surrounded me as they arrive in large numbers to the Cotswolds during pandemic. As I continue to watch the influx of wealthy Londoners, I am disturbed by the roar of a McLaren 720S supercar. It dawns on my that I live in London’s most obnoxious postcode, OX7. I moved here from London just after my 40th Birthday 10 years ago. Blur’s Alex James, Kate Moss and almost the entire Groucho Club’s membership had all moved to the area 2 years before. It was the same time that the hacking scandal broke. I would often overhear the victims of the hacking scandal mulling over details at The Kingham Plough pub, Chipping Norton. The Cotswolds was home to some of London’s most creative people. It was quite a scene. It was a scene that was almost comical. Lara Platman laments the influx of Londoners into the Cotswolds / Matt WrittleFast forward 2022 and my beloved Cotswolds will be a very different place. Another rush to OX7 was caused by the pandemic. Now, I wonder if there is anyone left in Kensington or Chelsea. The latest upsurge appears to have migrated from west of the capital. These Sloane Rangers arrive in 4x4s and helicopters. The skies are filled with engines as the new set flies back to the capital. Soho Farmhouse is a notoriously unrelaxing spot for holidaymakers, with celebrities flying in to spend the weekend. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen stayed recently and made sure that every moment was captured for their fans. Tom Cruise often flies in from wherever they are filming. David and Victoria Beckham frequently visit their country home. Meghan, Duchess Of Sussex also had her hen party there. Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa were spotted last summer, as well as Margot Robbie and Liv Tyler and Michael McIntyre. And don’t get me started on Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat farm — the subject of an Amazon Prime show and the cause of much fury amongst locals who are sick of the snaking queues of fans every weekend.Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have holidayed at Soho Farmhouse / Evan Agostini/Invision/APWorse still is the influencer invasion. As I sit down to lunch with a friend, my eyes glaze over as a couple using a large lens and a fluffy microphone make pieces-to-camera. Their back-and-forth between tables makes me dizzy. They order, then take photos of every plate without ever eating. Everywhere in the Cotswolds is now ‘Instagram-worthy. Everywhere in the Cotswolds has become ‘Instagram-worthy’. I was there last weekend to pick up my milk at the local farm. I had to wait outside for someone taking selfies with the milk filling machine. Bibury, a picturesque Cotswold village, where residents once fought for one person to remove his yellow car from front of their picture postcard cottage, is now overrun with couples who are grabbing one for the ‘gram’, obliterating any sense of its quaintness I am often asked for private chefs and gardeners at the village shop. They also require small rental cottages to accommodate their entourages, taking over more of the property market. The King’s Road is now a familiar place in what was once a quiet village. The villages now feel more like small towns. Every week, new places open that offer gourmet fried chicken and artisan fish & chip. For the most exclusive postcodes, there are taxis available. Life feels decidedly urbane. Queues and supercars at Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat shop / AvalonNowadays I prefer to avoid villages at weekends to avoid the white jean-wearing brigade or the sheer number of cars parked along the roadsides. “Oh, just park your car anywhere, they don’t have proper roads here,” the 4WD Lamborghini driver said to his friend. It is not unusual to move to the Cotswolds. At the beginning of the 20th Century, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement flocked in large numbers to Kelmscott and Chipping Campden. After WW2, more artists moved to the south Cotswolds. This was followed by the late Nineties (my lot), and the current Covid cohort. It is a great game to play with a friend: did they sell up? Or is this their second home. We start by noticing where they came from — usually Primrose Hill or Chelsea, Ledbury Road — and then decide if they want to keep their GBP3million pound bolt hole at London or if it’s time to get serious about OX7. I wonder if they enjoy the six bedrooms of detached honeycomb listed stones, surrounded by beautiful villages and endless fields, or if it is the smoke of the city with its 24-hour amenities. Is country life really all they imagined it to be? Tourists at Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. Alamy Stock PhotoPerhaps it is not. Many families are moving back to London. These are the smart ones who stayed in their city homes. Rightmove reports that the Cotswolds’ sold prices increased by seven percent last year, compared to London’s one per cent. This makes it financially difficult to move back to London. It was more about my mind than anything. The pandemic has rekindled my desire to live in a place of peace and tranquility. It’s all gone though and the local pubs and cafes are full of noise. Despite all this, I know that I can retreat to my farm with its beautiful Belted Galloway cattle and stunning view. This is the Cotswolds as it should be.