After The Rain Has Fallen

Yesterday had been forecast as a wet day. It had rained overnight, so in a clear spell late morning we had a short walk back to the lock. We had a day in planned, but a short bit of exercise was good and I was interested to see if the level at the lock was in red. To our surprise, despite the rain, it was lower and showing clearly in the yellow band. Nonetheless we were happy to have it behind us and we had little distance left to cover and pet projects to fill our day.

In the evening it rained very heavily. I’m finished my stocking and we have new improved switches, a productive day staying still.

Shane had a plan make use of the extra time we had and the better weather, a trip to Bicester, by bike. We moved forward a little as the towpath there was not great for cycling and when we came to moor we were opposite a field that had certainly been filled by the overnight precipitation.

Flooded field

We held the boat in while another boat passed. They asked if we had pulled in just to let them by, and I said it was just for a bike ride. I then saw that we were stopped next to nettles at the front, and I had to choose my spot carefully to attach the chain and pass through.

Nettles at our mooring, watch they don’t sting you.

We changed clothes and got the tandem out. I had added a couple of layers as it had felt pretty cool while mooring and I got a hat on too.Shane was warming himself up by pumping up the tyres. He decided the little pump worked but was hard work.

Shane using the little pump.

The access to Shane’s chosen road looked like it went over a stile. I went under a bridge and found that at the other side there was a route with two gates cutting through a field. There was some string to remind people not to walk through the crop but otherwise it was obviously a deliberate effort to allow people, or horses, through that couldn’t use the stile, and took us through the farm. I decided to walk round the very large puddle across the farm road and Shane decided to cycle.

We had very little mixing with cars, being on small roads and through small villages most of the way, and cycled over the motorway. In Bicester as we reached a pedestrian zone, Shane stopped and we were right outside a bike shop. A woman was going in with a bike having just test ridden it, and said she had really enjoyed it. Shane had noticed that the shop closed at half past twelve and we had serendipitously arrived at around twelve just when he had thought he could do with a better pump. While he was detaching the labels and price tag, the same woman came out of the shop and said, “that’s a bike and a half”. Too true. She was pleased to tell us she had just bought a new electric bike. She asked about where we had come from today. We explained were just on a day trip and asked if there was anything to see in Bicester. “Well there’s the piano I just painted,” she offered. Intrigued we asked for an explanation. It was a new project idea and she had painted a piano for public use. She told us where to look and talked about her work as an artist and cycling during lockdown.

We had a quick look around the centre and plumped for the bakery for lunch. It had some traditional items in the window and tables inside and out. We tried out their savoury and sweet fare. We were very happy with our choice and bought some bread for tomorrow too.

Traditional cakes in the window, lardy cake, Chelsea buns, Eccles cakes and bread pudding

Shane about to tuck into bread pudding with his coffee in Bicester

We had a look for the painted piano. We always like to take advantage of something local and see what is on offer and so far all was working out well. If we hadn’t stopped at the bike shop, we would never have known about the piano. It was tucked in a back street and had signs up asking locals to film themselves playing it and an award would be offered for the best video.

Elaborately decorated piano with various birds e.g woodpecker, robin, puffin, owl with trees, flowers and sea
Painted piano with a pea green boat

Shane had seen a park as a possible different route out and it had some different art on view. Shane was impressed by the realism of the leather straps on one of the sculptures. It was interesting from various angles. There was no explanatory information about the subject or the artist.

Bricks and other unusual objects selected for sculpture
Many tools around the saddle
lace making on the saddle

The park made a better exit route and the day was warming. There were two parks right next to each other. We had been just walking with Shane wheeling the bike, but as we left one park into another, the cycle rules changed. I had to take care mounting and dismounting to not kick the large pump protruding from the pannier.

On the way back I saw a bus stop that was also a book share and took away a book. It has been a fruitful day out altogether. Shane took the opportunity of the stop to take the zip-offs off. He found they were gripping on to his new shoes, so harder to remove.There was a handy seat to sit down in the shelter and complete the operation. The day had fairly warmed up.

Bus stop as a multifunctional public resource in Fritwell

Shane in shorts and T-shirt with his favourite modes of transport