Month two has slipped by in a relative blur and another 94 odd miles have passed without too much trouble (I can say that now they have gone). The last 30 days have enabled me to meander down the country lanes of the Hambleden Valley in Oxon, where our last visit ended.
I fight up hills of the Chilterns to visit the villages of Fawley, Turville, Frieth and Fingest. I visit the set of The Vicar of Dibley and chuckle lightly at the comedic ‘gems’ such as “No, no, no, no, no, no ….yes!”
I have to double back on myself slightly and head North out of the valley through Ibstone and join the M40 at Stokenchurch. This is where the run gets slightly tricky / dangerous with 10 ton Lorries passing within inches, hoovering me up in their wake. The benefit of this of course is that is strengthens my core trying to stay up right.
Thankfully I branch left onto the A40 and arch over the top of the University town of Oxford and into the unashamedly beautiful and timeless countryside of the Cotswolds. It is without question one of the finest looking counties available to earthlings. Villages consisting of clotted cream crust coloured buildings nestled together like penguins, beaming you back to Lark Rise to Candleford and associated odd West Country accents. There are some ferocious hills here. Leckhampton, near Cheltenham, is an old haunt from days gone by. Peering suggestively over its half moon glasses at the race course, the hill places its bets on the world famous Gold Cup National Hunt race.
I stop off at the school I went to nearby and have stirring memories and echoing cheers of hard fought victories, the Gloucestershire County Cricket Festival, which shares a boundary rope with the massacre of the school in the final scenes of the film IF.
Dodging the imaginary rounds raining down from the roof of the dining hall, I run to the Agricultural College at Cirencester, which in itself seems to be a school of slightly older children who have managed to hold on to power after a mutiny. A long and successful Alumnus continue to support this institution, one being the Prince of Wales, who lives down the road. No time to pop in and visit though. I have a date with beer.
I run from the College to the small industrial estate nestled in amongst the town. It houses one of my favourite places of ingenuity and endeavour. The Force Brewery was set up by Charles Malet, a local boy, of whom I hope you will hear more about in the Monthly Mentor series (although I haven’t asked him yet!). I have fantastically priced, delicious pint of Yankee Zulu, Thunderball and Chasing Leather, alongside a packet of Scampi Fires, and settle down for a nights kip on the bags of barley, like a solider in the Napoleonic wars. I would really recommend anyone near by to pop in there and pick up one of the many take away opportunities. You will be serenaded by the pipe and drums of a long since amalgamated regiment and given the warmest welcome you could want.
I am having such a nice time I wonder if there is any point in moving on next month. We will see.
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 190.94
Miles to go: 916