Every morning is the same. I wake up drained. But today is different. Today is a “walk in the park” a short 65k spin down country roads to Oxford. Aiming to be there by lunch time, with the evening free to wander its streets and browse its shops..
Blue sky’s, sun shining, temperatures on the rise, with no sign of the gale force winds promised for later in the week. I have breakfast with a couple , who after watching a documentary on BBC2 about living on a barge. And who were tired of the rat race, with their kids reared, they up and sold everything and bought a long boat and retired to the canals of England.
Thank God for the breeze, thank God for the back of strange lost Weaton (still the best accommodation so far) Oxford now beckons, and there is no more beautiful place to be on a sunny day.
I cruise down the A361, through Branbury, Deddington, Kidlington, glad now that I didn’t try make Oxford the previous evening, loving every moment, feeling good, loving the freedom of the bike, loving the opportunity to have done this, loving my life, and knowing that so far throughout this trip I’ve been blessed with the weather.
You can not but stop in Oxford. On a summer’s day the student fraternity down books abandon lecture halls and emerge pale faced, to bask in their beautiful lives.
Oxford the most bike friendly city in England, all shapes all sizes, even a 52yr old man in lycra doesn’t look out of place here.
The narrow streets heave with tourists and academics and wandering students. Its ancient walls bursting with history and creativity. Where school madams usher Harry Potter caped children, wands concealed, across pedestrian crossing to Hogwarts and beyond. In a city that inspired CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, the street lamp where the children first encountered Faun, stands ignored by passing tourists. Where Rodger Bannister clocked the first sub four minute mile on an ashen track. Where bike is king. Where you can be anything you want to be…..
I sit on Broad Street watching the lunch time world pass by. Basking in the mid-day sun, on the eve of my final push for London, and journeys end. I wait for Annie, my quietly spoken, fun loving, wine sipping poetry reading, Kildare loving, Clinical Psychologist. Friends now after all these years drinking pints with her brother on Wednesday nights in Redmonds. As I sit waiting, watching, in the mayhem of lunch time crowds and lectures end, you see them, pale and dishevelled, with their heavy rimmed glasses a size too big, once bullied in school, here in Oxford they are isolated and absorbed into a world of academia and knowledge, safe, hidden from the outside world. Sitting alone on street benches, heads bowed, hiding. Engulfed by their Asbergers, holding them socially back. These are the lost souls that Annie, keeps afloat, throws a thin lifeline of safety to, pulling them gently back to this real world, of people. In the evening we meet, sip wine and bitch the world to death, laugh and catch up…and tomorrow, London and journeys end.