Monday, January 30, 2012


Last night we drove to Oxford, and stayed in a strange hotel down towards Henley. It was odd in many ways; the photos on the website suggested it was a small building, when it turned out to be a maze of converted barns, joined together by a multiplicity of corridors. The exterior and the entrance way were incredibly grand, but the room (when we reached it, after trudging through an eternity of fire doors) was somehow basic and utilitarian. Yes, it had a bed, and a carpet, and a lovely view of the river, but it felt most suitable for a conference or a joyless affair conducted after work. Odd, that.

Lastly, there was something strange about our receptionist. Neither of us could say what it was, exactly, but she seemed devoid of affect, somehow sinister, like an alien doing a slightly unconvincing impression of a human. Or perhaps it was just her blue eyeshadow.

Still, we got to sleep and weren't replaced by pod people in the night, and in the morning we went for a wander around the grounds, which were full of birds. Although we both agreed about the Canada geese, we argued back and forth about whether one large grey bird was a pigeon or not. My wife has spent too long in Hong Kong, where the only birds are chickens, in cages, so her ornithological identifications are clearly suspect, whereas I, a country boy born and bred, know all about birds. Oh yes, the things I could tell you about birds.

They have wings, you know. And feathers. And stuff.

We took a taxi into town because I'm scared of one-way systems, and of grinding up the potential future Prime Minister of England and her bicycle under my car wheels, then walked around. I showed my wife such delights as the Radcliffe Camera, perhaps one tenth of the bookshops of Oxford, one sandwich shop, and then as soon as we'd both purchased some footwear, we headed back to London. A good day - relaxing. Or at least until we encounter traffic...


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