Working Girl

At the end of our first short day, we went for a walk to the shops, where we were served by a very friendly lady who said it was very nice to meet both of us. Well it did say it was the “best shop” in Hillmorton and if that is how she speaks to all her customers then she will certainly improve their shopping experience. Lambs in the field was another perk.

Waking up in the countryside with the birds twittering and a new view each day is what this is all about. Yesterday morning as the day brightened after a rainy night the hedge and towpath beside us came alive with birds: blackbirds on the path, robins, sparrows blue tits, great tits and the normally coy wren made a special appearance. My back was a bit twingy though so when Shane mentioned we had locks ahead, I thought the safest job for me was driving. I knew Shane would enjoy locking anyway, so he cast off the front while I got the engine started and started to cast off the back. Not many boats are moving at this time of year, but it is just typical for one to appear just as you are trying to set off and sure enough there was immediately another boat approaching so I had to wait and hold us in until it passed, the lady driving smiled her appreciation.

The locks went smoothly, though set against us, so I just travelled very slowly between them and roped up outside the first one. The centre rope had been coiled on the roof for months and had left green patters. I had noticed the same the day before when setting off from the marina, casting off the bow rope and finding it hard left its mark.

Rope marks on the bow after a long lie

After the locks, Shane drove as I was itching get the “need to wash hands after handling ropes” feeling away. Shane is itching to wash the roof but as rain came on when we stopped, we gave that a miss. It was a short trip to Rugby and while we have been there a few times we have never explored the centre so with a fair morning forecast we decided to do that.

A route through the park was appealing and while there were primroses aplenty and a few other flowers I am expecting an even better floral display shortly as there were a lot of tulips coming up. I paused to get a picture of the boy playing something – euphonium or tuba perhaps – with arcing tubes and coloured glass suggesting the notes emerging from it. I am assuming , like many an industrial town there was a brass band in Rugby. The park certainly was sporting a bandstand too.

The statue was next to a cafe and Shane noticed it was time he had a coffee. I rather expected that with a relatively captive clientele, the cafe might be fairly pedestrian but agreed to go in. I was immediately converted by the interesting cake array: bara brith, rarely seen outside Wales, gingerbread, home made cookies – Shane chose one, to my surprise – and I couldn’t resist the cardamom and blood orange cake.Two chirpy, chatty girls behind the counter made ordering even more pleasant and there was enough sun to sit outside. We then noticed that all the tables were full but a couple told us they would soon be gone and the man took his cup in while the lady said she was just going to finish her tea and go. I didn’t want to rush them as we were just waiting for the drinks and cakes to arrive anyway, but she finished up quickly and they left ushering us to sit down. While we were eating Shane got a message from Kenny who was cycling and stopped at a cafe, so I shared our cafe experience.

A slice of cardamom and blood orange cake and an apricot and chocolate cookie

The park wasn’t large but of course had a now familiar shaped statue – another celebration of boys at play – all hands on deck for this one. While the hands are mainly men’s, (there are signatures beside some of he prints) there was a woman rugby player among them. Rugby looks pretty hard work and Shane tried to shirk it at school – rather like I avoided contact with the ball at hockey.

A giant rugby ball sculpture. The sculpture is in a park with grass and trees around. The ball is predominantly white, with stencilled multicoloured handprints forming a band.
The Home of Odd-Shaped Balls

The famous game comes from a famous school. The shopping street led to the school that was founded in 1567. There are extensive sports grounds and some ancient buildings. There was much expansion in the 1700s. In the 1970s the first girl was admitted at senior school but it was nearly 20 years later that the school became totally coeducational. Although it was Saturday, pupils were walking around in uniform. It seemed like the girls were still a few centuries behind with their uniform being a full length skirt and blazer.

The motto is orando laborando (through praying, through working) and no doubt the pupils work hard. In the nearby shopping street, the substantial brick building was decorated with a freeze showing Rugby’s industrial heritage – not ladies and gents of leisure. We made use of the quality facilities within those walls, free of charge.

Frieze depicting times of industry on the Rugby public toilets

The Saturday market was on so we were having a good walk to work off the cake before going back. Our second time through the park we found ourselves in a benched area. Most benches are dedicated to family members who have passed away by their family or friends but one had quite a different dedication – to the vaccination volunteers. Paid or unpaid workers cheerfully getting things done seem to be all around here.

Back at the market, we perused the open air options. Shane deliberated between the Turkish ladies making fresh savoury pastries, rolling the pastry out to order with a long thin metal rolling pin, and another stall with extensive array of Indian vegetarian plates. His hunger defeated his ability to choose or order so while he sat on a bench, I went to the Indian one and the lone lady there patiently made up something that roughly matched what I thought I was asking for but was actually a more varied, bit of everything, piled into the box. He was most grateful for it.

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner