There are certain places that evoke some deep-seated memories, aren’t there? If I drive down a certain road I’ll remember an old friend who lived there, if I go anywhere near the Midlands I remember bits of my university experience, and if I go to the shops near my parents’ I remember being a teenager, having a half-day at the end of the school term and hopping on the bus with my friends to go and saturate ourselves in White Musk body spray at the Body Shop and try on different outrageous shades of nail polish.
I was struggling somewhat to come up with a blog post for today. I have a few posts in the works, but they’re all time-dependant or waiting on…something, so there I was. Speechless.
As I so often do in these kinds of situations I mulled over the week I just had, wondering if anything had occurred, or even just floated through my head, that might be interesting to write about. As it happened, I had to go into London on Saturday for a very old, very dear friend’s hen do – I don’t think I would have made that kind of trek for anyone else for just a lunch!
I know many of you, like me, are faintly dreading the coming week and wonder “what can I do with the kids?” Well, Oxfordshire is a veritable smorgasbord of free, cheap and low cost entertainments, both indoors and outdoors. What with The C word (yes, I went there – Christmas) on the horizon, Halloween at the end of the week and fireworks night shortly thereafter there are all sorts of themed activities to do across the county. I’ve outlined a small selection for you below, a gateway if you would, with something to do each day, but most of the venues listed are holding more than one event and it would be worth looking through their sites. Google is also your friend if you’re looking for something in a specific town.
The clumps are something of a local legend. Whenever the sun is out, whenever someone wants to run the steam out of a hyper child, or walk a dog, or show visiting family the sights of the area then it is recommended they visit the clumps.
Previously known by such suggestive names such as Mother Dunch’s Buttocks or the Berkshire Bubs the (now much more boringly titled) Wittenham Clumps are two hills, crested with woodlands and surrounded by fields and more woodland and cared for by the Earth Trust. From the top you can see across half of Oxfordshire, from the Benson weir to the Didcot cooling towers, Dorchester Abbey to Culham fusion reactor.
A trip to the cinema – especially as a family – is a rare treat for us. It is mostly budget that restricts us, as we love watching films together, but for How To Train Your Dragon 2 we made an exception.
We saw the first HTTYD film just after our son was born and now, two and a half years later, it is easily our most-watched DVD, with everyone able to quote large tracts of dialogue and the toddler terrorist often plays games of make believe where he is Hiccup and our poor black cat is Toothless. It is not hard to imagine, therefore, how keen we were to see the new sequel and, even better, found that it was to be aired a week before general release at a cinema we had always wanted to visit.
So call me a philistine, but whilst I find history fascinating I find it easier to take on board when it’s folded in to a bit of frothy romance. Perhaps it’s just the lack of brain power caused by continuing sleep deprivation, but I do like my facts well-blended with a bit of fiction and that’s exactly what I got in Jo Eames’ novel, ‘Not Only The Good Boys’.
The book tells the story of (fictional) injured Commando, Lieutenant Mike Dixon when he gets posted to an admin position working for the maverick Major General Hobart, who, during the period in which the book is set, lived in the house in Oxfordshire which the author now inhabits. Not many people will have heard of Major Hobart (Hobo) or his peculiar modifications to various tanks that were nicknamed collectively as ‘Hobo’s Funnies’, yet many historians believe it was entirely due to these wacky machines that the Allied Forces were successful in storming the beaches during the D-Day invasions.