Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A sudden day out

The weather report said Monday was going to be a sunny day, so being retired and having done all our chores on Saturday and Sunday, and like Mr Mole in the Wind in the Willows we decided not to waste a lovely spring day and so on the spur of the moment we went out for the day.
Having an annual pass for Blenheim Palace, we headed off to Oxfordshire and the village of Woodstock.

Getting out of the car, the wind seemed a little fresher than we had expected, but it soon warmed up. The grounds of BP are so vast, in the years we have been visiting there, we have never done it all, so there is plenty of scope to find something new each visit.
The first stop was the cafe for some coffee.

We then strolled around the gardens.

 To get to the larger gardens, you have to go through the main building and then through this ornamental garden

You can then either go down by the lake or along past the South Lawn to the far side of the grounds.

One of the local residents

A spring idyll, sunshine, daffodils in the foreground and sheep grazing in the distance

The parkland has a large variety of different trees

The house viewed from the south

Not a well kept secret
After this walk, it was lunch time and we ate in the Water Terrace Cafe.  The meal was not exceptional but better than a motorway service stop.

After lunch, we then walked off in a different direction heading for the weir. 

On the way we passed all this blossom
Last time we were there, the weir was not running very fast owing to a lack of rain, but today it was trying hard to imitate Niagara. 
This year the weir was flowing well

Last year,
Walking back, we passed under this tree, which was literally buzzing with activity as several dozen bees were gathering pollen.

A bumblebee working hard

I am glad that I do not have to find my lunch in such an undignified manner.
The amusing thing about this posture is that they keep flapping their feet, even though they are in the air and so gives them no purchase.

After that, we were walked out and so around three, we started back for home.
On the  way, I was reminded that this is the time of year when you can see where the local houses dumped their garden waste when no one was looking. 
Feral daffodils
If you look at the ditch opposite a house in a country lane, you will often see daffodils growing there in the spring. Sometimes in the ditch or just on the edge of it.  When gardeners dig over a flower bed, it is not unusual to accidentally dig up a few bulbs that were planted there and disposing of the waste soil, they get disposed of too.  If the gardener decides to dump their rubbish in the nearby ditch, rather than find somewhere to dump in on his own land, a few months later up come the daffodils.  So you find these little clumps of daffs at intervals along country lanes opposite a lonely cottage or two.  Just occasionally you will find an isolated bunch where there is now no house.  This show where there was once a farm hand's cottage.   In the 60s, you would often see an old abandoned cottage which once housed a farm hand and his family, but since farms have become more and more mechanised, these workers were no longer needed.  In those days, people were moving away from the country and so a small isolated cottage with poor accommodation and maybe no bathroom, no mains water or gas, were not saleable. So they remained empty and fell into disrepair, to the point where it was more economical to pull them down and plough up the land they occupied rather than repair them.
Lastly, this sign has always made me wonder.  It is not the thing you expect to find in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside, but it is a rather specialist zoo and does in fact hold a collection of crocodiles and related species from all over the world.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A trip to Oxford

This week, our daughter in law is over in England on a business trip. On Saturday, The Better half and I met up with her in Oxford and we spent the day there together. We were able to park in the out of town Park and Ride, which is very close to the hotel they were staying in and meeting up there, we took the bus into town together.
The standard tourist's view of Oxford.  But it was a sunny day and it was just the right light for a photograph.
We wandered around the town centre and visited Blackwell’s, Oxford’s famous book shop.

This place if you have never been there, works entirely within the physics of Terry Pratchett’s ‘L space’, in as much, that when sufficient books are collected together space time is distorted and the inside of a library or in this case, book shop is much larger than the outside. The store front in no way tells you how large the interior is.
My ruck sack became a little heavier after our visit there, but being a nice sunny day for a change, from there we went for a walk around Christchurch Meadows. The river was a lot higher than usual, having had a week of rain on and off.

The river at Christchurch Meadows

The ducks and the snowdrops were both out
 After a second small foray into the shopping centre, we met up with her work colleagues.

The idea was to eat in Eagle and Child, a pub where Tolkien and C S Lewis used to spend their drinking time together, but it was very crowded, so we went across the road to the Lamb and Flag, to wait until everyone had arrived.  The Lamb and Flag is a pub that does not serve food, so once everyone had arrived and had a drink, every now and then someone would cross the road to see if a table had become free.  Eventually the crowd had thinned enough in the Eagle and Child for us to find a table for five.

Great Pub Grub 
 After we had eaten, we then took the Park and Ride bus back to where our car was and leaving them at their hotel, we returned home.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Good by 2016 and Good Riddance

Well that is Christmas over and we have finally gotten rid of the Christmas tree.

Now well into the New Year, I have finally gotten around to my New Years blog.  What a year 2016 has been, with its ups and downs.
 Early in the year things went well for me and my eyesight has never been so good after my cataracts operation. But then The Son In Law broke his hip and then things went from bad to worse. The media was repeatedly reporting the deaths of so many well-known people who had long been a part of my life and the sad loss of my oldest cousin Pat, have made 2016 the year of loss.

Added to all that is the Brexit fiasco, with our esteemed leaders demonstrating their complete and utter inability to organise a piss up at a brewery, let alone an ordered and well informed referendum.

 Then Donald Trump got nominated as President Elect in the USA, making Brexit look like a better deal in comparison than we first thought.

 Meanwhile some of the worst humanitarian conditions since WWII have been spiralling out of control all around the third world and in particular as a few selfish people whip up bloody murder in the Middle East.

So 2016, was not such a great year, let us hope that 2017 will show some changes for the better.