Welcome to The English Eye Festive Break, with places to visit through the week.

First off today, we're at Brill Village, a hilltop community in Buckinghamshire. Brill's landmark is the handsome old mill, restored just a few years ago, though not to working order - the fragile 18th century structure resisted outline plans to reopen it for flour milling a few times a year.

No matter, it's a beautiful old structure, with panoramic views reaching far across the valley below to the Cotswold Hills beyond.

It's thought that EE Tolkien drew early pen-and-ink sketches to illustrate a Hobbit's home while sitting just below the mill, and who am I to dispute that? Tolkien and his fantasy-loving 'Inkling' friends used to visit the adjacent Pheasant Inn, so it's hardly a stretch to visualise him on Brill Common, working away with pen and sketchbook.

Winters in Brill can be very tough, as it's so exposed, and the height - just over 600 ft - means that the village is often swathed in cloud and mist.

When it snows, any isolated community may find things more difficult than in a town, and certainly the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 saw vehicles abandoned by the dozen in and around the village.

All that is forgotten on a summer's day though, and relaxing with a glass of beer in the Pheasant garden is one of the best ways to spend an evening.


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