It was yet another incredibly foggy morning, but on the experience of the past few days it was not worth waiting for it to clear, and we were gone before seven - I assumed Oxford would be quieter on a Saturday morning and it wasn’t too bad. I was pleased I had managed to see the shark in the sunlight the day before as I think there would have been hardly anything of it visible through this mornings peasouper.
Even though it was a weekend and we were early there was still a fair amount of traffic on the roads and I needed to go right into and through part of Oxford to get some LPG, but all went well and soon we were out on the roads towards Cirencester.
As we drew nearer I found I knew some of the roads which does make the driving a bit easier. Continually travelling on unknown roads can be wearing on the nerves, and the foggy conditions didn’t help, but we got to the turning for the campsite and headed on up there.
The actual approach from the road to the campsite was very steep and quite sharp, but we made it though and up even if it was a bit hairy, and Thebus was squeezed onto a corner plot, which had water and drainage so I could catch up on a bit of washing during my stay.
The first day stayed grey, dull and rainy and chatting with the owners it seemed that Cirencester was about a mile away so I didn't feel like driving all that way on the scooter in the rain and hoped for a better day on the morrow. It was a friendly and relaxed little site, with good faculties if you wanted to use them, and the opportunity to buy home cooked meals delivered to your door ready to eat in the evening. At only five pounds it seemed a nice idea to try someone else’s take on chicken with wine mushrooms and peppers.
By next day the weather had brightened and although it was cold I headed for the town. If it is a mile away as written not the nearby milestone it is certainly a long mile, and the ‘pavement’ on the way there has not been designed with a scooter in mind. Its a fast road so I didn't dare risk the carriageway, and the pavements didn't have lowered kerbs at several crossing. I have to say I very nearly capsized at a couple of them, and it was so dangerous I emailed the Highways Department on my return as anyone with less mobility than me would have been completely stuck.
But Cirencester was worth the effort. It is a town I have driven past, and even on occasions into, but never bothered to look round. How often in this busy life we lead do we do that? Drive by somewhere worth looking round, then not bother? Even those living in the town or nearby have sometimes not seen inside the lovely buildings.
The approach to the town by scooter (or if you were walking) takes you in by the original road, now closed to through traffic, but being so quiet you can get a real feeling of how it would have looked and felt before our busy modern world, and there were lots of lovely old building to admire.
Then into the magnificent church, known by the locals as the Cathedral of the Cotswolds as it is so large, and full of rich architectural interest. They had just finished a pre Christmas service for the school children - The Blessing of the Donkeys - I had seen a ‘donkey’ lorry driving away, which surprised me coming out of the centre of town. But when I got in and spoke to one of the very helpful vergers tidying away after the service he told me all about it. Apparently they had allowed a small herd of donkeys into the church, with of course the inevitable result, which I am sure caused much hilarity and entertainment for the children.
Having chatted about this and that he took the time to show me the church’s most treasured possession - the beautiful gilded cup which had belonged to Anne Boleyn, and gifted at her death by execution to one of her serving ladies. Also the wonderful tiled floor, with some original medieval tiles still showing in places, though most had been replaced in a 19th C restoration the pattern had been faithfully copied. They were lifted again fairly recently when underfloor heating installed - I wondered why my feet felt so toasty on such a clear frosty day.
Then we looked at the pane showing the devil in the vast stained glass window behind the altar. His little grimacing face gradually disappearing the nearer one got to the sanctuary. And just to the side a roman
After the splendours of the church and its wonderful monuments and fan vaulting I went to find the museum which houses the Roman mosaics and stonework discovered in Cirencester over the years. One always thinks how cold it must have been in Britain with stone and mosaic flooring, but of course with their underfloor heating it would have been even warmer than in the church where most of the heat must drift away up to the immensely high ceilings.
The modern museum there displays the artefacts very well, and it was interesting to see the variety of pieces there. After having looked round and feeling in need of sustenance I had read that there was a very good Italian restaurant in the town, but sadly arrived a few minutes after they had finished serving, which was disappointing, but on my way to the museum I had passed a nice looking cafe in Black Jack Street, and went back for a huge slice of wonderful homemade cake and very nice cup of coffee and a nice friendly atmosphere to boot. In the summer it looks as though it would be a good place to sit outside at their little street tables.
The drive back on Super Scooter was pretty well all uphill and seemed even longer, especially as I worried the batteries might not hold out, but all was well and we made it back just as dusk was falling, though I was very chilled after such a cold day outside sitting on the scooter. I think I must look into some waterproof trousers as even though I was lucky today had the weather turned my knees would have been soaked as well as frozen! But I soon warmed up and had my ready cooked meal delivered piping hot to my door on the dot of six as arranged. And very tasty and welcome it was too.