Thursday 31 May 2018

Dreaming Spires and Glittering Prizes

Actually just remembered that The Glittering Prizes was based at Cambridge but you get my meaning.

So another one of those lovely hot days, we went on a day out to Oxford.  We had time and although from here at Upper Heyford, there is a train service, and buses into the city, we took the car to the Pear Tree Park and Ride.  I felt like a right tourist when we arrived there, trying to make head or tail of the three different types of machines there to pay!  Eventually, I had the leaflet but that might as well been printed in Russian,  we managed, with the help of some Australian visitors, to pay and get on a bus.  Another chap on the bus helped me to figure out the returning stop.... 

First stop, The Ashmolean Museum.  What a fantastic place this is, we were here about 25 years ago and its unrecognisable, its been completely renovated throughout.
They have an exhibition till July called America's Cool Modernism, from O'Keeffe to Hopper.  (Google those two)

David doesn't completely share my love of modern art.....  but he was a brave soldier and came to this one happily, I would have taken some snaps to thrill you all but they, unlike a lot of other world museums, forbade photos.  
Well worth the visit.

Then of course David wanted coffee, find the café and its a roof terrace.  I like this sort of thing very much. 

Baking hot day, but my husband kept his jumper on, he says "Never cast a clout till May is out" but honestly it was 26 degrees today.

We hopped on the tourist bus next.  This is something we tend to do when visiting cities abroad, or indeed biking tours, so we took one here.  

So here is a taster of what you can see from the top of a bus.  Sadly on transferring these snaps, I deleted them from my phone and the location of them identifying the colleges so lets just call them mixed colleges. 

Possibly Christ Church college.

Possibly Queens College.

Possibly Brasenose College.

Anyway, in Oxford there are many colleges.  Today in the press were headlines about the lack of students from underprivileged homes coming here, in fact I was harangued by one of my daughters on this subject whilst waiting at the bus stop, but my answer is frankly I don't know why any right minded student would come here, its knee deep in visitors with cameras everyday and not much in the way of a Party scene,  vital for three years of happy studying.  But there you are, some parents have other views.

This is the station bike park, good luck with that.

Below is The Saxon Tower, Saxon!  So for those of you abroad, this was built between 1000 to 1050, thats 968 years old.  I'm just saying.  I climbed to the top and David didn't, he was getting the sports news on his phone.

Chalice with amethysts from C15th.

Great views form the top.

One of the things David wanted to do today was go find a pub, not any pub but this one.  You need a map for sure.  Along there, turn right, turn left, through an archway and totally hidden.  

We sat with some Germans who were discussing Jürgen Klopp, I know this because David told me, evidently my husband speaks German.  I was quite impressed.

This is not a dead end but the way in through the archway, see the archway?  No?  Nor did the tourists in front of us who turned back.

Love this sort of thing, sun, dwinks and listening to Germans.

We went to another called The White Horse, used in the filming of Morse, Lewis and Endeavour.  But my phone had died by now  HERE  but they served nice calamari.
It was a good day.

So on the bus I spotted the second photo but in my head, a scene from a work by Hopper.

A detail of a real Hopper and below...

A scene from the Säid Business School in Oxford.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

What was that cracking noise?

Quite a bit of excitement one day when I thought I heard the buzzing of a bluebottle, then I thought it must be a vintage boat coming, well then I'm not quite sure what I thought it was but the sleeping cows all got up and had mass looks of panic finally it appeared.....;

For those of you whom are uninformed let me enlighten you, its a Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, it has guns, rockets and missiles though maybe not onboard today, its just the thing for upsetting a herd of happy cows and disturbing the peace.  
I shall be writing to complain to the Ministry.

We went biking.  I really feel smug going under motorways and going over them is no exception.  Who wouldn't? 
I was minded to remember Mrs Mollie Wills, mother of great friends, she was a young girl from rural Wales at the outbreak of WW2 and became a Land Army girl, she married the farmer in time.  A lovely lady of refinement she was.
Decades later walking her own grandchildren over a Motorway, she told the little girls, "Look down there at all the nasty tourists arriving...... Let's spit on them!"

The pink tinged Hawthorne has arrived.

Prettiest house of the day goes to this one in the village of Souldern in Oxfordshire.
I'd have that tree down, and probably plant pink roses at the front but gorgeous.

For my readers from overseas, this post box has GR so that would be the present Queen's father.  Not so many of these about.

Here's another from the other day, VR is Queen Victoria, even fewer of these ones.

It was very warm so we stopped here, The Fox at Souldern.

Finally the day came for us to leave Somerton.  David has loved every minute of our holiday here, he particularly has got to know the beautiful villages in the area.  We've been to some of the nicest pubs and also discovered a "Pop up restaurant" in the area, more of which in the future.

It was blowy when we were ready to cast off and in the very best of boating luck, three boats passed us in pretty quick succession,  as there are several locks to do today and us being behind a single hander, then two chaps towing a butty we decided to have breakfast here rather than on the move.

Finally finally we set off, I was clearing up and D casting off when I looked out to see him on the towpath, WaL across the canal and a rope.... "Need any help?"  He was fine, it was just that he had staked us so firmly with about 9 pins he had to use two hands to belt the pins out.  No one died.

Our mooring, I rather think we'll stop here again another time.
Around the corner and the canal opens out.

Pretty as a picture me thinks.

Now this was an interesting interlude.  We caught up two of the three boats although we had been dawdling.  
NB Clara has recently been sold and these two chaps were taking her down to the K&A to the new  owners to live on.  We were told that the previous owners had raised two children on her.  So a much smaller NB was doing the towing in clouds of smoke at one point.  David moored up and came forwards to help too.

All was going well, I wound up the paddle on direction, I never do this without direction of the captain.

Then we were talking at the bow, it's a 1906 boat built for or by The Shropshire Union Canal Carrying Company.  All I could find out was     HERE   

Sadly as you can see in the first picture, the tiller arm was at 90 degrees to the boat and as the boat descended in the lock we heard a sickening crack, David and I the only two with windlasses in hand dropped both paddles and then scampered up to the top gate and put water in bringing the boat up again and taking the pressure off the wooden tiller arm.  Refloating her.  
Bad language followed.
It was first thought that the entire rudder was damaged but the arm was tied, I offered some cording which we have, but that was declined and a pair of what looked like football socks were used. 

Mind that tiller......

Legging the butty out of the lock.

Shocking filthly shorts and feet, maybe he has Kiwi blood in him, they are always barefooted.

Bit more legging.

He was as nifty as my Kiwi son-in-law leaping about the place.

So after seeing Charlie the other day doing a full stretched leg manoeuvre here we are again steering with feet.  I feel my own skills at helming can only benefit from learning this....  

We moored up at Upper Heyford.  Ready for our trip tomorrow.

Friday 25 May 2018

A Sunday afternoon drive in the jalopy.

 It's a Sunday, a day of rest.   We are old so we went on a Sunday afternoon drive!
The truth of the matter was that it was so very hot yesterday and today that I didn't want to sit in the sun the whole day.  
So David devised a route to show me all the lovely places he had cycled through this week on his dawn rides and they were lovely.

Out on the razzle.

A gated lane, a most secluded valley and tiny lake surrounded by flowers.

Now I am going to be controversial,  so going back two days when at Waddesham I wasn't exactly horrified at the building of a French chateau in Buckinghamshire well over a hundred years ago.... but here we are in the twenty first century and I don't think we should be building fakes or imitation buildings.
It began here when I popped out the car to open the gate,  now you all know I love gates..  those old fashioned ones, made by skilled blacksmiths and hammered into wonderful curves....  This gate was plastic coated and probably made in China.  

This new manor house or farm house or executive home, has a stone roof, or lookalike stone roof, concrete lintels an open stone porch.  But shouldn't we be building modern contemporary looking forwards in design and invention not backwards but not fake? 

Oh and this gate is plastic coated too.  I wouldn't be surprised if the lawn was plastic.

I would be delighted to hear other views different to my own on this subject.

Moving on, this delightful former chapel has footings form the C12th, The Twelfth Century no less, no other former chapel in the world like it, its priceless to me.  At one end its joined to what is now a cottage, now that is unusual.

Dear little cottage and a C13th archway.

What a peaceful final resting place.

Now we went onto a village called Deddington, it's really near Aynho, we had a walk around and I saw a few more crackers.

Unspoilt ancient house with wonderful door.

Ancient house but I do have issues with the roof and the front porch.

Stone built house but look at the wall to see how it's changed over the centuries.

Oh my what a stunner, I would guess at Queen Anne, but look at the colour of cleaned stone.

Supper was low key after yesterday, poached eggs on toast with roasted tomatoes and avocados.

Thursday 24 May 2018

Don't try this at home.

It was another lovely hot day.  We are still on the meadows and plan to stay longer.  This is one of David's favourite places and he has been looking forward to being here ever since I chose where we were going this summer.

This lady was on a practice walk today in training for a huge long walk in aid of children who are deaf and blind.  I refilled her water bottles and wished her well and made a donation.

We had found a pub near-ish by with highly recommended food, Oh I think we should try that.  I did need a little bit of encouraging to bike it, but then we could both have a drink, as to get to the road to Kirtlington is on a flat ridge all the way but to get to that ridge is a hike up a hill, then another hill which is undesirable in this hot weather.

So it was a most lovely ride, once I got up the hill from Somerton, and it was about 7 or 8 miles to The Oxford Arms in Kirtlington    HERE   oh my what a find.  Its probably a much shorter walk form further down the canal but here we are.  We booked for a Saturday lunchtime, as it was sunny but when we arrived we remembered that it was The Royal Wedding and no one was about, gardens were deserted and telly's were on.

The food is wonderful, the building ancient, the Landlord is a skilled chef and the Landlady charming.
I suggest you go there.

This was spicy duck with watermelon, fantastic combination, seen those chips????

Houses in the village.

We have this tree at home, but this one is far better.

So a little bit of farming news.... at this time of year farmers are going mad with maize planting.  Maize is vital food for cows, but it is a but fussy and likes a very fine bed and dry to plant the stuff.

Maize seeds dropped and a few shoots.

David checking this crop unbidden but he loved the soil.

Coming up a treat, how's yours going on David Lewis?

Sweet Chestnut in full flower.

and my first poppies of the year.

Now have I said that the Meadows are beautiful?  But there is a bit of a drawback.... Cows, free range cows, more of a consideration is the fact they have calves with them, this is a very serious subject and here we don't think that there are warnings enough, although there is a warning here which we (As subject experts) don't think is nearly as focused as it should be.

Oh did I say.... there's a bull here too.

So I watch these cows like a hawk before we leave the boat and walk to the gate, I know exactly where the bull is (I am particularly twitchy around bulls)  BUT the most dangerous thing in this field are the mothers of young calves.  If  a walker or worse still a dog walker should unwittingly walk between a cow and young calves she could well attack, without warning.  

A lady had her leg broken last December here at Somerton.  
If you are faced with a situation like this, first obey your instincts and choose another field or walk right away from the animals on the other side of the field or should you see calves DON'T WALK BETWEEN THEM AND COWS, but if you are attracting the attention of the animals, take the dog off the lead and walk away.  The dog will out run you and any cows.
So all got that?

The Lovely Meadows

See our chairs?  David had just dropped off to sleep, he hates to be woken so I was in a dilemma but they were getting closer, should I wake him or just leave him to it?   I do love him so I woke him... 

Getting closer  You might have noticed that I am now in the boat, yes David is still sat there.

David!!!!! For gods sake come in  "I'm protecting the chairs"


Moving the chairs into safety.

Yep he was close.....

Then as quickly as they advanced, and I had departed, they toddled off but you can see all the calves with them.

So I wish you all safety.