My, as The Mom puts it, ‘zany’ friend and I have done a couple of road trips recently, which is tremendously exciting. I’d never really thought there could be that many benefits to having a car over here, what with the trains going to all the places, but I have to say that having a car allows you to cover a lot more ground that you’d have been able to on a train.
A few weeks ago, we went off to Oxford. Well, we planned on going to Oxford, but then we added a few things to the list. My friend wanted to see the white horse, which is a chalk drawing of a white horse that’s been done on a hill somewhere between here, Bristol, and Oxford. I added that we ought to see the shark in the roof in Oxford, and as it was suitably absurd, she was all for it.
We set off early in the morning and headed straight to the white horse, which we discovered we could see when taking the train into London. We parked the car and walked around the site. It was lovely. It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny, and though the site was full of other people, it wasn’t crowded. I mean, okay, sure, it is a giant hill, so it would’ve been tough to make it crowded, but still. We didn’t feel hemmed in by people.
Unfortuantely, we both found ourselves in need of a wee, so off we set again, this time in search of a tea room. We found a delightful one that was also a campground. We used the toilet facilities and suitably refreshed or unburdened, we decided to treat ourselves to a cream tea. I’ve only ever had one once in my life, when I lived in Cornwall, so was excited to have one again. The wasps that surrounded us were also very keen on our little snack, particularly the jam, which they basically bathed in. As we sat drinking our tea, the Red Arrows flew overhead in formation! We were delighted and declared the trip a success even though we had yet to actually get to Oxford.
Back in the car, and off we went, this time we stopped when we saw what we thought was some kind of castle or country home. We got off the motorway and investigated. When we learned it was only a folly, we lost interest quickly, and continued on our way to Oxford.
The Mom has always tried to get me to go and visit Oxford and Cambridge, just to take in the age of the places. She also has fond memories, or at least hilarious ones, of when she spent time here with Your Father in the pre-divorce era. The Mom will frequently and at length go on about the beautiful old buildings and such like. Now, I don’t mean to come across as jaded, but after ten years of living here, one does get a bit used to seeing all sorts of Really Old Things. Half the flats I’ve lived in have been older than Canada, so age and history lose their effect after a while, and mostly all I can think about when I see old places is to wonder how people managed to get better glazed windows and sort of workable heating happening.
Anyhow, I had Googled before our trip, to see if there was anything weird happening in Oxford. And I found the shark in the roof. Some bright spark decided to commission it as a piece of art work. It’s truly genius. It is literally a shark plunging into the roof of the house. It makes no sense whatsoever.
We found it easily. And to boot there was a completely random petting zoo taking place just in front of the shark in the roof house. To say I was thrilled doesn’t even cover it. I believe there were squees of glee.
Eventually, we made it to my friend’s Dad’s bar, and chatted a while with him and some of her other family members. Then we headed out and I said I had been told to go and look at old stuff by The Mom, so we dutifully went off toward the University.
However, by this time we were tired, and had already seen so much! And had also only eaten a cream tea, and a scone and-a-half is not enough to keep you going all day, even with clotted cream, and I needed to eat. We got some burgers, and then came back to Bristol, whilst enjoying what can only be described as a nuclear sunset. All in all, it was a tremendously successful day.
When I related our adventure to The Mom she was somewhat upset that I hadn’t made more of a day trip to Oxford. Which is funny because in all the time she’s known me, I’ve never been one for looking at old stuff. It’s generally just not that weird. I mean, sure, some stuff is, but a bunch of old buildings? My old University up in Glasgow dates from either the 1500s or the 1400s – I can’t remember – but it’s freaking old. Which is the thing: it’s just old. You really need an interpreter for these things, someone to tell you about some scandals that happened maybe, or the juicy gossip.
The Mom told me that my friend and I would have to go back and do some brass rubbings. Now, on the face of it, that sounds like good fun, and I’m sure my friend would be up for it, but I don’t quite understand the purpose of doing it. The Mom has her brass rubbings hanging up in the house still, so it’s not like she needs some more. And as I move around every few years, I’m not keen on picking up anything else I have to pack and move.
I think that The Mom and I both enjoyed very different versions of Oxford but surely that’s the point of being a tourist. Find something you’re interested in and investigate. Me, I prefer a good shark in the roof to a bunch of old buildings any day. Especailly ones where Cameron may or many not have done something foul to a pig.