Catching Up On Business And Pleasure In Sun Soaked Oxford

It will never match the late great Alan Whicker but my own modest tour back to blighty began with a smooth early Ryanair flight into Bournemouth International Airport and I was impressed that the Red Arrows were parked up to greet me – well maybe they were actually there for a series of nearby shows. The sun was glorious, my return train ticket wasn’t as horrendous as expected and I even managed to grab a bit of food on the way through – my mood was relaxed and matching the weather.

At my age I’m allowed to have the odd grumpy moment and this latest was sponsored by Cross Country trains. I had brought my netbook with me and looked forward to doing a little work on the train in the WI-Fi carriage but was shocked to find out it wasn’t free, so if you go in a café or pub and have a drink you can get free Wi-Fi but if you pay 54 pounds for a return train ticket you have to fork out extra for the wibbly wobbly web – not impressed.

Anyway hitting Oxford the memories came flooding back as I dived into my task of pulling together the last (hopefully) bits of the aftermath of my Dads death three years ago. Several fruitful calls later I was in town and deserving a drink, it was fairly quiet, most people had headed for river side pubs but I visited a few old haunts trying to avoid the light summer ales and picking the darker brews. The old Gloucester Arms has been stripped back from a rockers paradise to a boring place with no atmosphere called The White Rabbit. As luck would have it The Chequers in High Street had a beer festival on for a month, 60 ales and cider with a free pint after every five bought. The dark brooding pint in the photo is a Copper Dragon from Skipton – very nice.

My second day was a whirlwind of office calls and visits, my mum eventually recognized me at the care home in the beautiful Wantage countryside but she is oblivious to most of what’s going on – I manage that state sometimes but only with liquid help. I had a quick look around Christ Church college grounds, Oxford is stunningly beautiful especially in the sun and it was nice to see so many delightful young ladies enjoying the weather and flashing the flesh.

One of my big tasks was to organise  the clearing of my parents house, this has only recently been added to the legal hoops I have to jump through for the pleasure of finally signing my old home over to an Equity Release company. I met a bloke from a local firm outside the house to give me a quote, putting  the key in the lock was a weird feeling as I braced myself for a wave of emotions. I thought a stampede of animals would rush out like in Jumanji but it was in surprisingly good condition. I scooped up as much as I could off the huge stack of post and later sat outside a pub as I opened all the envelopes, mostly advertising junk (Mr Branson was particularly keen to offer my parents broadband). The TV licence people want my Dad in court and Southern Electric have been sending ever spiraling assessed bills although the power has long ceased flowing – a few emails will sort them all out.

At least I had an evening treat to look forward to, catching up with an old Ice Hockey friend Andrew Hall at his pub The Rose and Crown – a pleasant evening of beer and wobbling down memory lane closed the day nicely. I’m missing my daily swims but Oxford has a temporary beach outside The Swan & Castle at the old prison shopping complex – complete with Punch and Judy. Let’s see what else Oxford has to offer.