Sunday, March 21, 2010

Burford: "I can't believe I found boots!"

Strange title, I know, but bear with me: Tea was so excited about this find... Words fail me, to be honest. But, alas, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The forecast for the weekend was dismal indeed, but, lo and behold, Sunday dawned clear, blue and beautiful -- yes, dear readers, my earlier comment about uncannily accurate forecasts has since been proven wrong; so very wrong -- so we stuck our noses in our many books on English walks and decided on one near Burford and Fulbrook.

The landscape around there is really quite something: you can be walking past hills of golden hay one moment, through rolling green hills speckled with white stones like so much confetti the next, followed by flat fields, the tree line well in the distance. As we struggled to figure out just which tree line was the 'copse' referred to in our book, it all seemed like a mirage around us, never getting any closer. We put it down to the carb-laden Thai feast of the previous evening, courtesy of Tea and Miranda's cooking adventure. (I just got to plow through the spoils. Woo hoo!) Luckily we got a second wind shortly thereafter.

St. Oswald's Church
Then it was through Paynes Farm -- where I got to pet a horse! (I was gonna give him my apple, but it was still early days at that point; what if my second wind started to fail me?) and, later, some of the most beautiful, lush valleys we've seen; we keep thinking we won't be able to top the previous week's walk, but there's always something. Another highlight was St Oswald’s Church in Widford. Unfortunately it was closed -- an extremely odd thing, according to a disgusted local we met; we'll definitely have to go back -- but even its exterior was very impressive.

In the Royal Oak
Back in Burford, we were lucky that the first pub we happened upon -- The Royal Oak -- was the town's only entry in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide (I'd forgot to bring it). And rightly so! Tea enjoyed some fabulous toffee cake and a tea (with lots of extra hot water -- nice touch!) while I had a pint of Wadworth's 6X and one of Henry's Original IPA. The place was dripping with character, including the bartender's collection of cups, mugs and steins hanging from hooks in the rafters; you couldn't see the end of them! But the best part by far were the two dogs hangin' out there; one but a puppy. We got to rub him lots before some folks came and bought peanuts; Tea's seriously thinkin' about carryin' a pocketful of dog treats in the future to compete.

Shopping was on the agenda after those refreshments: Burford has some beautiful shops, including lovely china shops, and, getting to the subject of this post, outdoor-wear shops. It was outside one of the latter that Tea spied some wellies; but not just any wellies: these had plenty of extra room up near the calf, a failing that had prevented her from finding a good fit up 'til that moment. And then there's the hiking boot design... Suffice to say that she was over the moon, and ready to try them out on a second hike right then and there!

Behind St. John the Baptist
As we were heading back to the car, we noticed St. John the Baptist Church and had to take a closer look. Unfortunately, it too was closed -- this time for organ practice -- but, again, its exterior was well worth a look. Then it was for home, and, luckily, we made it just as Miranda was getting back from her day in Avebury. So we fired up the Thai leftovers, and repeated the delicious feast of the previous evening. Good times!

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