Digby, our ever-reliable porter, has come up trumps and found me a bicycle. I say ‘found’ but that is not strictly true. In fact it is his own bicycle but, as he delicately explained, he has a complaint that presently renders the saddle unbearably painful. Having suffered the same complaint, I sympathised and remarked that: “One man’s pain in the bum is another’s gain,” which appeared to humour him.
Digby’s bicycle is, what I call, a proper bicycle and eminently suited to a mature gentleman. It also has lights so I shall not be wholly restricted to the limited hours of daylight and have already planned a number of excursions (not all of which will end in the Abingdon Arms!) for the weeks ahead.
My first port-of-call was Oxford itself, where you see my new steed safely locked up while I did my Christmas shopping for my lad and Mr and Mrs Pumphrey, but I have more exotic destinations in mind. Otmoor intrigues me, though I curse it every time the wind is from the north. I rather miss the open downs of Avebury during my days at Belshade and according to Principal Stonebreaker Otmoor has a wild and unique beauty equal to anything south of Yorkshire (whence she hails) and east of Sedgemoor in Somerset. Some claim! Also Richard Hannay, the well-known author, lived and is buried in the village of Elsfield which is only a few miles from here. Hannay was something of a childhood hero of mine and I shall take my battered copy of Nigger Goes North! and pay my respects to its author. Then, there are a number of pretty little villages close by and of course the delights of Oxford itself are now within reach without relying on the peculiarities of bus timetables or taxi drivers who refuse to call on Belshade College after dark!
The open road awaits Toot! Toot!