Struggling with Technology in the Countryside

The absence of a wireless internet connection makes keeping a web-based diary a little daunting. I can, of course, link my iPad to my iPhone once I have persuaded it to act as a hotspot by juggling Bluetooth and wifi connectivity on both devices; but then, situated as I am on a campsite in the middle of the rural Cotswolds, I need to run around ceaselessly to find a mobile phone signal strong enough to power my 3G data transfer capabilities. Londoners please note that 4G is a myth outside of the M25 roundabout and the promised 5G upgrade is viewed by most of us with the same scorn we would view the figures £365 million on the side of a bus.

The last two nights we spent at a public house in Old Marston Red Lion, Old Marston just outside Oxford before moving west to meet with friends here to celebrate the New Year at the source of the mighty Thames – the Thameshead Inn just outside Cirencester.

I studied at Oxford (Brookes) and have an inordinate fondness for the place, the dreaming spires and altogether academically pure air. The Red Lion is handily situated close to a bus stop offering frequent journeys straight to the heart of the city. On the first night we sample the cuisine – well cooked meals with a good range of choices and some excellent real ales to boot.

The second day we mounted the aforementioned omnibus and the short journey brought us to the excellent ancient covered market for a swift browse before searching for a good lunch venue. We were almost resigned to settling for a MacDonalds until we saw a sign for a pub next door which we found nestling down a narrow alley.

The Crown is a magnificent pub with countless ales on tap and a menu which attracts even the most pernickety taste. It specialises in sausages of wild variety and an impressive list of combinations of meat and fruit and suchlike. Despite this, I settled for a fish finger sandwich in which delightful cod goujons had been cooked in a light batter and then coated with chunky homemade tartare sauce before being sandwiched between doorsteps of grained farmhouse bread. To make heaven complete they were accompanied by a bowl of the most deliciously crunchy chips I could ever imagine.

Lunch over, it was time for us to head off into the shopping heart of Oxford. The city boasts an impressive range of shops and close shopping centres offering both style and economy in both national chains and local independent shops. It was the post-Christmas sales and so I was certain to be able to snap up a bargain and we wandered through the crowds searching for socks and a shirt for me and jeans and a tee shirt for MBH.

It was growing dark when we decided to head back to the camper and a small evening meal. This time MBH chose macaroni cheese and I opted for a chicken tikka masala which was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. Early to bed but late to sleep and the next morning we were quick to pack up and head off to our next destination.

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