A reader who won’t let me quit

The Carpenters on the Curbar Edge.
The Carpenters on the Curbar Edge.

I had an idea that I would do one more post on this blog about our last day in London and then close it out. But Judy V. made the sensible comment that the logical follow to my post on my favorite rugby matches would be the top five favorites in my other categories that I used to cheat on the question “What were the trip’s five best things?”

So Kathy and I have divided up the task of fulfilling Judy’s suggestion; I’ll do hikes and museums and Kathy will do plays and colleges/cathedrals/abbeys (that last category is further evidence of cheating).

So for hikes:

  1. Has to be the Curbar Edge. It’s in the Peak District of north England and goes along an edge overlooking two villages, woodlands, pastures and other farmlands. You share the trail with cattle, rock climbers and other hikers. It helped that we had clear, sunny weather.

    A narrow boat on the Oxford Canal.
    A narrow boat on the Oxford Canal.
  2. The walk along the Oxford Canal to Kidlington. One of our first walks after we arrived in Oxford. The route came out of a book that detailed the path all the way to Banbury. The eight miles to Kidlington and a stop at a pub gave us enough of the flavor of the canal to feel OK about not going farther. But we often walked along the canal to get into the central part of Oxford.
  3. Avebury stone circle. An ancient place with a stone circle around a rural village and a processional between more stones that leads to an mound built by unknowns, probably thousands of years ago.
  4. Oxford’s Port Meadows: The maps we had of Oxford showed that this meadow was near our flat. We made a loop out of it by walking back along the Thames River and we found one of our favorite pubs, The Perch in Binsey.
  5. To the Victoria Arms pub: Another walk in Oxfordshire, this one in the opposite direction of the Port Meadows but of course leading us to a pub, the Victoria Arms. Before you get there you pass through Oxofrd’s Univeristy Parks, past college playing fields and through the village of Old Marston.

These paths are made for walking and we average five or six miles a day, with our longest day the sprint marathon in London. A great way to see things and to stay in shape (sort of — we both gained a couple of pounds; too much Guinness and tea cakes).

Bridge over the Cherwell River on the way to the Victoria Arms pub.
Bridge over the Cherwell River on the way to the Victoria Arms pub.

Some days you just want to take a walk. So we did

Bridge over the Cherwell River.
Bridge over the Cherwell River.

After a weekend that included two train trips into and out of London, a visit to the Churchill Museum and War Rooms (more on that later) and two semi final matches in the Rugby World Cup, a quiet day was called for.

The Victoria Arms pub.
The Victoria Arms pub.

Up late. Coffee. Read The Guardian. Peruse maps and guidebooks. Ponder the weather outside and decide if it would be a good day for a quiet walk.

It was.

We’ve had this one on the wish list for some time, waiting for today, the right day. So off we went through the University Park in North Oxford, across the Cherwell River, past some of the colleges’ athletic fields, through Old Marston village and up to the Victoria Arms pub, the turnaround point for the walk.Victoria Sign

Of course, Kathy had to have a pint of Corvus Stout and I had to have my tea. The weather was nice enough we could sit outside on the deck.

After the proper amount of languishing, we set off along the Cherwell until we returned to the foot bridge back into University Parks.

A nice day.

Kathy on the deck of the Victoria Arms pub.
Kathy on the deck of the Victoria Arms pub.

Punting with Ben on the Cherwell River

Ben punts while the rest of us enjoy the ride
Ben punts while the rest of us enjoy the ride

Sometimes when traveling you make some bad decisions: a turn on the wrong road, a ticket to a sight not worth the price of admission, an awful meal in a bad restaurant.

So it’s nice to look back on a good decision: Putting off a day of punting on the Cherwell River until our friends the Carpenters arrived in Oxford.

We made the decision based on cost. It was 20 pounds to rent a punt for an hour. We decided it would be best to share that with more people in the boat — up to five could take out a single vessel.

But the best part of having the Carpenters included was that they brought along their own punter: 23-year-old son Ben, who got the knack of guiding the boat down the river in no time and took us around an island in less than the 45 minutes the concessionaire said it would take.

Given the right hat, Ben could find work on the canals of Venice.

Ben tries on a hat meant for punting.
Ben tries on a hat meant for punting.