Manatu

Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Oxford to Wallingford

Think we must be up to about 135 k’s by now  and I can actually voluntarily go out and look around a place after checking in to the current nights domicile. Prior to yesterday it was check in, have a long bath, get dressed, totter down to the nearest place with food, and totter back to our room.

We had the most wonderful day in Oxford, went on  a quick bus tour to get our bearings, back to to the hotel for a cup of tea and snack, we were staying in Broad St right opposite Balliol College  so very handy.Setting off on foot we were instantly delayed by the offer of a free concert in a nearby church, a Paragyan harpist- he was fantastic, straight from the Edinburgh Festival, dragged ourselves away after 40 minutes. We then went to Christ Church College, paid our money and went on The Tour!

Through the various quads to the Cathedral, yes, Oxford Cathedral is right in the midst of this college, lovely cathedral as befits its historical background. Seems very high church, rosaries for sale in the cathedral shop- shades of money changers in the temple.

Very envious of all the lounging students who are just finishing off this term. One was having a good old dig right into his throat, I could not resist,

in my best teacher voice I asked “Is that any way for a future world leader to behave”. The hand was out in a thrice.

Visited the ChCh Art Gallery, full of priceless Renaissance Art. Had a lovely lady docent take us around, only us and a woman from Canada,most informative but took 45 minutes and time was marching on. A quick v isit to the dining hall, menu looked quite basic but then we only saw the lunch menu. Some of the stained glass windows in the dining hall feature Alice and the mad hatter, small and tasteful as you would expect. Saw the Dean’s residence from the bus in the am but you cannot see it on the public tour. Alice of course was Alice Liddell, the Dean’s daughter. The book , ” Alice I have been” can’t remember the author, gives a whole different perspective on the Charles Hodgson/Lewis Carroll /Alice  relationship plus it gives some lovely descriptions of Oxford .

T whipped away to an unspellable museum- which was closed on a Monday and then surprised the life out of me  as he ” sprung” me fossicking around Debenhams, well a girl has to shop and there had been no shops for a few days….

We then raced away to clean up prior to meeting my old friends Jackie and Bob. I went to their wedding in Doncaster in 1966 and we have kept in touch ever since I left UK. I should clarify this, Jackie and I worked together at International Harvester when I was doing my OE.

We had a great catch up at Youngs Hotel just down the street from where we were staying. Planned our departure for the next day, they were going to walk with us for two days.

Next morning we met J&B at the planned place just by the Thames AND the Railway Station, and set off at 9.30 to complete the 20 k’s planned for that day.

They walked fast! I was struggling to keep up for the first hour or so then either they slowed or increased my pace! think possibly the former.

We initially shared the tarsealed path with lots of annoying cyclists then we were back onto rough tracks thru paddocks. J&B were quite surprised as they had expected, like us, nice sealed towpaths.

We met the usual dog walkers including one who was quite nuts, she had a husky which she had no control over,she  let it  harass cattle in a paddock- sorry field, and did nothing about it. B got very annoyed and told her off a treat, but we never actually saw her put the dratted thing on a lead.

Lovely countryside and the swishest boat house I have ever seen belonging to – Balliol? They all had them. Plus we even saw a few rowers. Countryside was still very Constable like….

Saw a Royal Airforce group in a large motor boat, with a lone wet suited swimmer in front and in front of the swimmer a kayaker, they were raising funds, swimming 27 miles. Looked  cold and nasty to me, much like irrigation channel swimming of my youth. Huddled on the back of the boat was the next/previous swimmer, looking like a hotwater bottle. They were raising funds for the 90th anniversary of the British Legion.

Saw some beautiful riverside houses at Bicton, very conspicuous consumption but nice to ogle. Saw a number of boats which were definitely worth more than our house and decided that a narrow boat would probably be the way to travel the river rather than on foot.

We met a young Mexican walker, he had his tent plus pack on his back, the tent was one of those circular spring up affairs so he looked a bit of character walking along with a large plastic type flat circle on his back. he walked fast too…

We were again diverted away from the river but only for about 45 minutes, not sure why this time as could not see any farmhouses.

We finally stopped for lunch at the park just before Abingdon. We bemoaned the lack of seats  but scoffed our snickers, bananas, purloined bacon sandwiches and our treat- dried apricots. Not cordon bleu but keeps us going.

Crossed the weir at Abingdon and there were some seats but only a men’s toilet, which was a sort of drain with no water, how do I know this- I used it!

Abingdon looked very pretty, well the waterfront had lovely old houses.

With my speedy friends we made our destination by 3.15 pm, Sutton Courtenay here we are!

Sutton Courtenay is very old, and very small, but it has 3 pubs. It has a lovely row of old cottages, one was thatched but all were charming in the quintessential English way.

Dinner at the George and Dragon, was yummy, belly pork for Terry and Bob and pies for Jackie and I. Guess what- two NZ couples were sitting just across from us, one couple from Taupo who were “minding” an estate for 3 months and another couple visiting from Napier.

I am sure Bob will not mind my commenting on all the goodies that came out of his backpack. When we met them to go out for dinner- they were just across the hall from us, Bob had on a lovely lightweight jacket, nice shirt and pressed trousers plus nice shoes, Jackie had on a nice long sleeved top plus beautiful black trousers and dinky pink shoes, they both looked immaculate and stylish! How?????? did they get all that into a tiny bag, they beat us hands down for packing!

Lovely to meet my old friends agan and to just pick up where we left off a few years ago- no not 46 years, saw them last about 2005.

They have walked much of  UK, and Bob has walked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so distinguished walking company.

Cullham to Wallingham. Wednesday sometime in June.

We set off by 9 am and headed for the Wittenham Clumps- I never made up that name…

W C is two hills which give you a great view of the surrounding countryside including Didcot Power Station, now gas fired according to Bob.

Terry and Bob had great conversations about things which left Jackie and I raising our eyebrows…Give us a shop!

The most amusing thing to happen so far was at Days Lock, We kept meeting a group of women, initially at Clifton Hampden- thatched cottages to die for, then again at Days Lock

 There was bus load of them and all about my indeterninate age.

Well, there is a bridge over the river at Days lock where the National Pooh Sticks competition is held annually, these women held their own…wonderful.

If you do not know what I am talking about, sorry, too long to explain….

We had hoped to meet up with T’s brother Greg today but events decreed – maybe in NZ eh Greg.otherwise

Jackie and Bob left us at Shallingford, lovely to see them again and hopefully they will also make the trek to NZ sometime  SOON!

We tottered on, slower of course, and saw another kite- they are beautiful, just have  a bit more decorative detail than our hawkes. Plus we saw a number of large herons. Every day we see loads of small butterflies and bright turquoise dragonflies.

So we are fitter but have we lost weight- never, all the beer and food plus the snickers bar smeans  we are maintaining a healthy weight. The few pubs we have seen are all closed during the day , opening at 6 pm, so we are not tempted to stop for drinks at lunchtime, apparently this is commuter belt territory for London and nobody is around to drink during the day…

David came over from Basingstoke to have dinner with us, we had Italian but a bit late for carbo loading… Lovely to see him, he seemed to think we still looked OK!

We had a good nights sleep last night, good bed, room to move in the room we had so all is well with the world,plus the sun is still shining…

2 Comments

  1. Sorry not to have made it up there – as I told David, if he can bring you down here before you depart for Dover (or you grab a train, we are on the main line from Waterloo) you’re very welcome 🙂

    Greg & Helga

  2. Running out of time now…..

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