Picture the scene; your eldest sister, your very best friend and general go to person in every situation you can think of moves away after living just minutes from you your entire life. You say goodbye to years of working together, socialising together, bouncing ideas off of each other and going through the best and the worst of times, instinctively, habitually together. She is my biggest supporter and my ideas man, or should I say woman and at the end of last year she left.
What would you do? Help her move? Be there like a shot as soon as you could?
Errrm. Well that was my intention.
Yet here I am a whole 5 months later and last weekend was my very first visit to Bicester, the place she now calls home. It wasn’t the first time I had seen her of course, my gosh I couldn’t go that long without seeing her face not in a million years, she has stayed in our spare room a fair few weekends with one reason and another to visit the town she used to call home, fulfil Auntie duties and accompany us on days out and adventures.
I also speak to her most days as she tells me all about her new area of residence and the beautiful places she has discovered. Telling me how much I would love it, sharing pictures and funny anecdotes (like the time she told me she had stumbled across what must have been the ‘biggest pig in the world’ on the side of the road…it for sure was just a large pig but gave me a chance to share our mutual love of sarcasm in spades and for me to never let her live it down) Every time I say genuinely that I cannot wait to visit. Then another week goes by, another month, life is busy, flies by and well who doesn’t want to wait until its warmer to explore a new place?
Therefore, in need of some non Mummy time, some good old fashioned sister time and to explore and share in her every day that we chat about so much I decided on a whim to just get up and go to spend the day with her. Alone.
I will admit I had a little wobble of the dreaded Mum guilt but knowing I would be a more relaxed version of myself having had a day off watching what the time was or who needed a snack, toilet break, sleep or being referee to inane bickering etc etc and I was soon on my way.
We started off with lunch at this gorgeous quaint little pub with the loveliest gardens, delicious food and the friendliest staff ever. By that I mean a lady immediately said she liked my hat that I am always so conscious wearing feeling a little like a prat so I was already onto a winner. Even if it is the go to place my sister takes all of her visitors! However we were so busy chatting and eating that I didn’t take any photos, of the food, of us, of the wooden tree swing swaying in the breeze as we sat at the picnic bench that the girls would love, the low ceilings that just scream charm, the sarcastic signs that appeal to mine and Carries nature or the bar scattered with bowls of jelly beans in place of your usual roasted peanut snack. Alas we will just have to visit again to do that but for now we moved on to explore some other places I hear so much about so I can actual visualise them when she gets lost on her lunch hour and I speak to her on the phone despite not actually being able to do anything but laugh at her navigational misfortune from 85 miles north!
We pulled over as we drove along a stone wall lined road behind which a polo match could be seen in the distance and despite knowing nothing about polo, or horse riding/horses in general, had a hankering to be in the club, so to speak. Instead we just creepily watched them from afar commenting on the distance they seem to be able to hit the ball. Turns out horses can run pretty fast, or is that trot?! See, clueless.
Our destination ‘Jane’s Enchanted Tea Gardens’ in Kirtlington accessible on foot or by narrowboat unfortunately was closed but is somewhere I will 100% be taking the girls to the next time we visit (on the right weekend that is. It is only open alternate weekends April through September) It looked like the cutest most eccentric and random little place, essentially a back garden full to the brim with nic nacs right on the canal that you can take a walk down the uneven country road to the mis matched table and chairs and watch as the narrow boats go past as slow as time should pass when enjoying tea and cake.
Alas we carried on down that bumpiest road that seemed like it might take the bottom of Carries car off any second, parked up and just went for a walk in the sunshine. We watched a boat through the lock, walked down a path that an unsuspecting and seemingly concerned stranger asked what was down and where it led. Then seemed perplexed that we didn’t know yet were venturing anyway! So that we did in earnest as Carrie is nothing if not defiant. Over little bridges, through fields, public footpaths, past bulls, the most awesome looking treehouse which had clearly been neglected for a few years as children just insist on growing up and I just wanted to take home, over weirs where teenagers hung around in bikinis on the bank despite it definitely not being bikini weather at all but still had me hankering to either have that time back again or move somewhere that my teenage children would in fact spend their Saturday afternoons hanging out in nature rather than an alternative I don’t even like to think about. Anyone for remote living!?
As we neared the end of a path of dog walkers galore, playing pooh sticks, up a hill past the cutest houses ever, that were so well kept in fact a friendly face was actually sweeping the end of his gravel driveway which overlooked open fields and had only 2 neighbours, life goals right there.
We exchanged pleasantries as he asked if we had a cold beer to hand. I honestly think random walkers past that way not to mention ones definitely not dressed for rambling were a rare sight. Unfortunately we didn’t even have water and no sooner had we passed him and opened out on the brow of a hill that we realised we had made a big mistake. Walking for 45 minutes already and following my sisters terrible sense of direction and we deduced that the return to the car was not in fact an 11 minute walk from what was definitely the middle of nowhere where we could literally see only fields for miles and miles but in fact my maps app was correct that unless we turned around it was more like 1hr 20 minutes! My very intelligent but also very senseless at times sister had negated to tell her phone that we were in fact on foot and not in the car. Thankfully the friendly man had gone inside, maybe for that cold beer, by the time we made our return journey for what must have seemed like no reason at all saving us any embarrassing explanations!
After our ramble and finally seeing the car once more (whilst noting out now very sore throat, and feet) we visited Garth Park with its perfectly kept gardens, impressive band stand and lovely little playground before sitting in a pub garden playing cards and realising that we know a lot less card games than we thought we did, or at least the rules of said games!
I told myself I had all day, that there were hours to while away and that I would leave in plenty of time to not have to drive in the dark, yet after a lovely dinner followed by delicious dessert and there I was staring in the face of the drive home as the sun went down around me.
It was the best day, nothing and everything all rolled into one and so many lovely Bicester spots and beautiful countryside which I can’t wait to explore more of another day, and notably to spend time with my big sister whom I am so very proud of for making such a big leap which has been the best thing she could ever have done, even if I do miss her immensely.
She never fails to make me belly laugh, appreciates the aesthetics of a place as much as I do (despite not actually knowing any details like what a cafe is called and assuming it therefore doesn’t have a name!) Yet takes unflattering funny pictures of me and tells me to stop being stupid at times when I am being sensitive, serious or hard on myself, everyone needs a person like that in their life, even if they do now live 85 miles away. She’s ace, as is Bicester, it’s lucky to have her that’s for sure and I most definitely will be back, with my map at the ready this time.
p.s I know she isn’t in these photos, she prefers to be the other side of the camera which just so happens to work out well for me!