The sacrifices that I make to serve the readership of the Cat!
Friday 25, we docked at Wrenbury after a week on the water and unloaded our gear from the narrowboat into the car for the trip back to base, via Cheltenham to deposit one of our party who joined the hard core of three for that leg of our journey. He is a retired political scientist and liberal so we spent some happy hours droning on about nerdish things, interrupted from time to time to exchange banter and childish jokes with the other travelers.
Saturday, a night at the opera, Handel’s Rinaldo at the local Longborough Festival Opera.
Longborough Festival Opera is an opera festival which presents a season of high quality opera each June and July in the English Cotswolds village of Longborough in north Gloucestershire. It began in 1991 as Banks Fee Opera by presenting concerts, and moved forward with operas presented by a travelling company. This was followed by converting a barn into an opera house. Audiences grew rapidly in the 1990s and, during the last decade, a focus on Wagner’s operas led to three complete Ring Cycles being performed in 2013.
During a long intermission we dined in the open air looking down over the surrounding countryside. The venue is supposed to be a converted barn but I think there is not much of the barn left!
The story ended very well, the Christians won the war, and the villains converted to Christianity and got to marry their true loves, just like the hero and heoette.
Monday, a day with David Miller on a walking tour of the city of Oxford, checking out the “dreaming spires” half a dozen of the most interesting of the 45 colleges and a tour of Magdalen (pronounced maudlin). Magdalen is very old and the steeple over the (amazing) chapel is still the highest building in the town.
Oscar Wilde lived there and we saw the Oscar Wilde Staircase. They also have a lot of land attached where they harvest hay and run a herd of deer. I took photos of some ‘bambis” and wondered how often they have venison for dinner.
David had a long association with Karl Popper and is still involved in conferences and publications so we had a good time droning over a long lunch at the Pierre Victoire. Not very British, perhaps we should have had pork pies or beef and ale at a pub.
Tuesday, a long drive up into Wales and back home. The weather was perfect (as usual) although there were clouds over Mount Snowdon as we approached but they cleared by the time we arrived. Not much of a mountain really!
We passed through many different kinds of landscape on the way, and the rolling green hills of Wales were quite different from our surroundings in the Cotswolds.
We stopped at seaside town of Porthmadog. A striking feature of the streetscape was the number of dogs. Pure coincidence I suppose. We visited a small museum that celebrated the harbor and the slate industry which exported three millions of tons of slate (over a century), especially to contribute to rebuilding the German city of Hamburg which was ravaged by a fire in 1842.
After a glimpse of Mt Snowdon we drove back through Llangollen – the far point of the canal tour – and dined overlooking the canal and one of the most scary aqueducts that we had to negotiate on the voyage. It was amusing to note that it took about half an hour to cross the territory in the car where we spent three days each way on the water.
Now a couple of easy days to recover and prepare for the next leg, to St Petersburgh and the Baltic States.