One of the upsides of having friends that don’t live nearby is that if you want to keep in contact with them then occasionally you have to be willing to travel a little for a hug.
I quite like this – because although the down side of distant friendships is that you don’t see a person as often as you’d like, when you do get to catch up it’s a good opportunity for exploration and nattering. In my case yesterday (because I was due a catch up with a most excellent mate) I was wandering around Oxford – and like an ex-colleague of mine did recently I was walking along a small stretch of the Thames Path.
His feat (he’s a very good boy) was quite a bit more impressive however. The intrepid fellow walked the entire 170 miles of the Thames Path in 12 days! That’s 14 miles a day!
In my case though I was satisfied with a shorter five mile walk along the quiet banks of the river between Wolvercote and Cassington – which are easy enough to stroll along, and filled with geese and other wildlife.
I started at the ruins of Godstow Abbey – which was guarded by lots of inquisitive bovine minders – some of whom were very keen on making sure that any people passing by smelled and tasted acceptable. One lovely young cow in particular took quite a shine to me. Since I’ve also tasted many of their kind I thought it only fair to return the favour and let her have a good lick.
After being roughly rasped by her sandpaper like tongue for a while I headed away from the Abbey toward Cassington. I had no particular objective in mind other than just looking at the view, and it’s definitely a nice stretch of the world to aimlessly wander through.
Although they were too far away to photograph there were quite a few deer on the opposite bank bounding around the wide open green fields and through the hedgerows. Also, hidden amongst the reeds and along the banks were all manner of geese and ducks – and flying overhead, almost frozen in slow motion on the currents of air while scanning the ground below were occasional kestrels.
These are absolutely beautiful birds.
Again sadly my cameraphone is incapable of getting a shot of something so high up and far away – but it was able to get some film of the super cute goslings being closely guarded by their parents on the river, who I’m sure don’t share my love of birds of prey.
Further along the river (and also close by the Abbey too) there are some well maintained boat locks which, according to their signage, have a vital role to play in managing the area’s natural flooding. Interestingly – compared to Warwickshire’s waterways these are manned Thames Conservancy locations, and have cottages where people live and work on the river. Consequently because these locks are effectively someone’s front or back garden they are really well maintained places and quite pretty!
After a few miles of this I headed back to Wolvercote to meet my friend and for the second time this week (my luck must be running out) managed to time my outdoor activities perfectly. The pub we’d agreed to meet at was The Trout – and it’s a very very picturesque little place indeed.
I’ve been here in the past – but who can tire of any watering hole that can boast that it has it’s own peacock?!
Honestly if that was it’s only claim to fame then I’d probably be off again almost immediately – but it also has an enviable reputation as a gastropub. Yesterday was only the second time I’ve eaten there – and I wasn’t disappointed.
As soon as I was seated indoors (right next to an open fireplace full of glowing coals crackling away to my left) the heavens opened and completely soaked the whole landscape. This would have made my walk considerably less enjoyable but it definitely ruined the fine dining experience of the poor souls sitting on the terrace by the river who quickly came inside.
It’s always hard to choose the path of Slimming World righteousness in such a setting (everything on the menu looked awesome!!) but I decided to go for the ‘Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salad with brown rice, quinoa, edamame beans, baby kale, basil pistou and burrata with roasted salmon.’ I’m pretty sure that there were syns in the oil – but when a salad is this good and you’ve just been on a five mile walk who cares?!
In instances like this it’s a way better choice than pie and mash – and sometimes you have to enjoy one totally lovely thing and make little sacrifices elsewhere. In my case it was the accompanying pieces of pure evil that came with my Americano.
They may seem innocuous (and delicious) enough – but i’m pretty sure these artisan dipping biscuits contain way more waistline horrors than my main course – and I feel pretty chuffed that they stayed right where they were in the photo – undigested and sitting on the edge of my saucer as I walked away.
At the end of a lovely day out I gave my friend a huge hug, thanked her for dinner (she treated me bless her!) and slowly drove home in the rain along the M40 back to Warwick listening to the radio feeling pretty good about life.
Sitting here this morning I still do.
Friends are ace internet.