Friday, 31 July 2015

Bristol to South Oxfordshire - Day 2 - Wall to wall sunshine (and a bumpy track)

This morning we awoke at our wonderful overnight stay (Widbrook Barns - to bright sunshine and an amazing breakfast. The Barns are run by a couple, Dick and Jane, who have themed each room around a children's book of the 1930s to 1950s. We were staying in 'Swallows and Amazons' and our fellow travellers were in 'The Secret Seven'. The rooms were extremely well equipped, with lovely ensuite shower rooms. Well worth a visit if you happen to be near Bradford on Avon.

After our extremely good breakfast, we set off to join our route again. The first half of the day was along the tow path of the canal, and I have to say I was very glad my bike has seat post suspension; the surface was good, but very rough. It was a good ride, and not too busy along the path. The highlight of the morning being the flight of locks at Caen Hill.

Soon after riding up the hill we headed into Devizes for lunch. I have to say that what I saw of it did not impress me; it had a branch of pretty much any Bank you can think of, but other than that, I am not sure it has much going for it. 

After lunch we continued on the tow path for a while, before heading off onto quiet country roads with wonderful views across fields to The White Horse. We wound our way along at a leisurely pace until we turned off the route and headed for our B&B for the night. 

We were met by Margo, and some very bouncy dogs, and immediately offered tea in the garden. This was wonderful, just sitting in the sun enjoying a good cup of tea and home made cake. Then time for a rest before heading out for supper. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Bristol to South Oxfordshire - Day 1

Today four of us set out on our journey from Bristol to South Oxfordshire. In fact, on a round trip, as we started from South Oxfordshire' catching the train from Didcot to Bristol Temple Meads. I should add at this point that the return journey is expected to take almost four days.

Day 1 has gone well. We arrived at Bristol as planned and it was really easy to pick up the cycle track that was going to take us to Bath. This part of the route is on a disused railway. It has a good surface and was reasonably flat, so we made good time. 

When we arrived in Bath we were pleasantly surprised to find that the signs for our route were very clear and, as luck would have it, the route took us past a real good bakery, which served a very acceptable Cream Tea. We felt this would be perfect preparation for the hill we were going to have to climb out of Bath. 

Suitably fortified, we set off again following the signs for National Cycle Route 4 and soon found ourselves climbing up a hill. No sooner had we started up the hill than we were directed to turn off. This was the canal path we were to take, so the climb out of Bath was 'something and nothing'.

The rest of the day was very pleasant, cycling at no great pace on easy track. The real bonus was that the weather was very kind to us, which after the dreadful weather we had over the past few weeks was not guaranteed. 

We found our B&B without any difficulty, only a short distance from the route. It is a lovely spot and there is a pub within easy walking distance. All in all a good first day

The is the viaduct at Avoncliff. We past  couple of these, they are truly magnificent.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Morning Bunnies!

One of the many joys of our new home is the wildlife we share the area with. My cycle ride to the station takes me past fields and hedgerows and it is alive with all kinds of life.

One of my favourite areas to ride through is actually along the side of a housing estate, very near the station. Not only does it have a great riding surface, it also has a real mix of wildlife. But most importantly, it is the only part of my ride where I am likely to see rabbits. Whether they are more timid around the fields, or whether the edge of the housing estate is just a more hospitable location for them, I could not say.

Every morning, come rain or shine, there they are keeping the grass down alongside the cycle path. The younger ones are a bit more timid and tend to bounce off when they see this mad woman on her mint green bike, but the older ones happily sit there nibbling away. I like to think they are wishing me a good day as I say good morning to them (I did say I was mad!)

It is one of the joys of life.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

This seems so long ago

I was just looking through the photos on my phone, looking for a picture of a sunny day (remember those?) and came across this picture. I took it just before we moved to show the joy of packing and how much space you need to empty your cupboards.

It certainly does what I wanted,  but now,  looking at it out of context it all seems so long ago. All the stress leading up to the move is becoming a distant memory. Frankly that is just as well as there were a few, well more than a few, moments when I seriously doubted that it would actually happen. All best forgotten now.

Packing up your home, putting it in a van and unpacking it 50 miles away is a very strange sensation. Having all your familiar objects around you, but in a totally unfamiliar location feels slightly surreal. You start to question which bit of what you are seeing is wrong, knowing that something is. Don't get me wrong, we love our new home and have settled in very well and incredibly quickly, but there is still that slight sense of unease. There is also the regular questioning of whether it has actually happened and whether we really own the new house; it is so different from what we were used to. 

So, did it actually happen? Yes it did and we love that it did. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Well that was a surprise!

Before we moved from West London I was very used to seeing flocks of parakeets flying around, you just accepted this as one of the quirks of life there. Since moving to Oxfordshire I have become equally accepting of Red Kites. I am also enjoying spotting birds I have not seen for many years; Goldfinches, House Martins, Swallows and Yellow Wagtails for example.

It was a Yellow Wagtail I initially thought I saw as I cycled to the station this morning. There was just a flash of long yellowish tail flying across the path in front of me. I followed the path of its flight and realised I was wrong. This was no Wagtail. It was about the right length, but too plump and had an 'exotic' look about it, but I felt it was familiar in some way. Could it be a Parakeet slightly out of its usual realm? No, it was too small. Then I realised where I had seen it before. Some friends have Lovebirds and this is what it was!

I know all of this deduction happened in the space of about 30 seconds, but I am as certain as I can be that this is what I saw. How it found itself flying around Oxfordshire I can only imagine. My guess would be that it escaped from a home nearby. I just hope it finds a friend to keep it company as I think they need chums around them.

You just never know what you will see if you keep your eyes open.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

What happened to the weather?

Did I imagine that we had some extremely hot weather about three weeks ago? Where has it gone?

My regular commute now includes a 15 minute cycle ride from home to the station. It is a lovely ride, along a dedicated cycle path which runs along fields most of the way. In the sun it is the most perfect start or end to the working day. But last week it rained more often than not on each journey. Not so idyllic.

I accept that there have been periods of sunshine amongst the wet, but not many and not for long. This is July, we should be able to rely on some half decent weather. Looking at the forecast for the next few days doesn't give much hope either. It is more of the same, sunny intervals with scattered showers, some heavy. I say again, where has the good weather gone?

I have a whole summer wardrobe aimed at good weather and it is sitting, or rather hanging, in my cupboard laughing at me. If I have to wear a knitted top to work one more time between now and the end of July, I may scream. They are meant for April/May and late September,  not the middle of July.

Come on weather,  buck your ideas up!