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Cycling in the Country

Horse drawn vs horsepower- the off-grid life… The most irritating thing about living in the Oxfordshire countryside, or “the Cotswolds” as image conscious persons like to refer to the area, is the number of cars that race through it. Not just ordinary cars but huge articulated lorries seeking short-cuts; thundering through narrow hedged roads they are a terrifying sight. Then we have builders’ vans, gi-normous tractors large as houses with trailers and, worst of all enormous, pretentious SUVs like Jeeps, Rangerovers and other cheaper versions of the same. I simply loathe these monsters and cannot understand the need for a sports utility vehicle, but every third car seems to belong to that category.

Blackened Beanfields

Droughts happen, floods happen, but this was also the year that had thrown up the Covid plague. The world had changed within the seasons

University Parks

Two park benches commemorating deceased “lovers of the Parks” simply CHOLMONDLEY, pronounced “Chumley” Some people walk or jog, or walk their dogs, at the same time every day. You see ancient dons in their old tweed jackets often talking to themselves, shuffling on scuffed soles, or well-off retirees taking their post prandial stroll, or immensely […] Read more

The Bell Inn Langford- made famous by Giles Coren

Giles Coren seems to have assumed the mantle of the late A.A. Gill. His restaurant  reviews-  not always polite, so amusingly bitchy, and sometimes so fulsome that one can only envy his luck and the deep pockets of his newspaper. His latest obsession is churchyards, which lure him to neighbouring pubs, such as The Bell […] Read more

Strawberry Hill Forever

                      Are we in Westminster Abbey, or in a medieval castle?  No, this is the Gothic Wendy house built over a period of 40 years by Horace Walpole. He was the son of Robert Walpole who was effectively Prime Minister throughout the reign of George […] Read more

Northumberland, the last outpost

On a peerless day in November we walked coatless alongside the River Till, near the estates of Ford and Etal and close by  Flodden where James IV’s Scottish army was defeated in a decisive battle. The sun was warm, almost hot, and we watched the play of light on the water and through the gold […] Read more

British Values (4): Watching the English

Summer to Autumn, Autumn to Winter the period before things stabilize into predictable patterns, or what they are going to be like for a while- at least until the next seasonal change starts to shake the air- people like me become restless and questioning. Who am I, where do I fit in, where do I […] Read more

I needn’t have bothered with all those extra layers- beret, thick scarf, windcheater- because it was pretty warm under the dragon whoosh of the periodic tongues of gaseous flame, even at the occasional  3,000 feet above the A38. Fifteen persons climbed into the basket, captained by Mark Shemilt, a very experienced airline pilot with 40,000 […] Read more

The Rickety Press has many attributes that add to its charm: a bower of green leaves mellowing the exterior and softening the view from the windowside banquettes, a breezily chummy staff (Carole remarked on how the lattes had shrunk in size and was assured, “you want more coffee? Just say- I’ve got loads of coffee!”); […] Read more

Fave caffs (9): Oli’s Thai

In spite of their laid-back charm Rufus and Ladd are the sharpest knives in the block, having made a huge success of their compact  Thai family bistro in Oxford’s once arid culinary landscape. Oli’s Thai has become so popular that you can’t just walk in. Regulars plan weeks in advance,  with military precision, cunningly block […] Read more