I am writing this snuggled up under a blanket with a nice cup of tea, warming myself up, as I have just got in from a blustery afternoon's walk. A friend and I decided to brave the weather and so, boots on, umbrellas in hand, we set off towards Iffley lock, which you can see in rather nicer weather here (annoyingly I forgot to take my camera today):
We met outside Christ Church Meadows, and cut across those to Folly Bridge, before striking out along the Thames towpath, surrounded by fields on one side and college boats full of rowers out training on the other... Luckily the latter petered out as we got deeper into the countryside!
Iffley itself is a pretty village just on the outskirts of Oxford, and we were able to catch a glimpse of its beautiful church, St Mary's (built in 1170), across the water.
Someday I'll have to wander round the village itself, and have a look inside the church. Today, however, we were being rather less high-minded, as our destination was a yummy pub lunch at the Isis Farmhouse:
Although it had stopped raining, we were still glad to get inside the pub, which I had never been to before. My friend had warned me that it was a little unusual, and he was right, in as much as there were only three things on the menu (plus the gourmet baked beans on toast and homemade cakes and scones they always serve!), but luckily the choices of soup, lentil stew, or Moroccan style chicken casserole all sounded lovely. We both plumped for the chicken casserole, which was indeed delicious: a generous serving of couscous and chicken, mixed together with olives, lemon, various spices and served with still-warm bread to dip into the juices. Mmm! Coupled with a glass of wine, it was perfect for a pick-me-up before going back outside. Fortified by our meal, we decided to carry on walking for a little longer, passing the two pretty bridges next to the lock, the second of which is based on the famous Mathematical Bridge at Queen's College, Cambridge:
We almost made it to Sandford, the next village along the Thames, but decided we'd better turn back before the winter evening drew in. Next summer, perhaps!
This afternoon's trip was just what I needed to blow away a few cobwebs, and it was fun to discover somewhere new in Oxford, and to feel so countrified so short a distance from town (it took us about 45 minutes to walk to the pub from the town centre). I'll definitely be doing more of this in the future; who knows, perhaps even The Walking Boots will come into their own once again...! Only, of course, if there's a nice pub to warm oneself up in at the end of the trip. On which subject, I leave you today with the charming opening sentence of Sir W's 1600 essay 'Of Alehouses':
'I Write this in an Alehouse, into which I am driuen by night, which would not giue me leaue to finde out an honester harbour. I am without any Company but Inke and Paper, and them I vse in stead of talking to my selfe'.