Saturday, June 6, 2015

Oxford with the Clarks

Beautiful Oxford
We had a good overnight flight via Frankfurt and made it into Heathrow, jumped on the bus and made the walk through Oxford to Wolfson College on a cool and dreary morning. What a nice way to perk ourselves up to meet the awesome and animated Juliet for the first time. Our first day was one where your energy levels rise and fall with the growing jet lag. We made it through the whole day, due to Elliott's energy levels keeping us alert and maybe the idea of a beer later in the day.

Amy was particularity excited about visiting the historic city of Oxford for the first time. Having visited before myself, we were able to explore and guide ourselves around the narrow and windy cobbled streets and find many points of interests, including a few pubs. We took the free city walking tour, and was entertained with the usual local stories, tales and history that is always a good base for ones further exploration. We found ourselves on many occasions having a pint or half at many a traditional establishment. I did mention to one bar manager that I was a brewer and inquired if he might show me the pub's cellar. This being the Turf Tavern, the old pub in the city dating back to the 13th century. So he led me down to the cool but casually set out cellar room with its low beamed ceiling and perfect natural coolness for dispensing some beautiful cask ales. I fired away questions and snapped some photos. With that and all the product testing I did, I could have written this trip off as business.

Turf Tavern
We were really blessed with some amazing weather and took advantage by taking Charlotte and Mike's bikes for a ride up the canal and back down the River Thames. Bumping along the canal path past the back of cute terraced houses with little decks and beds of wildflowers right on the bank and canal boats with friendly cats lounging in the sun, it was a perfect ride. With halftime refreshments at The Trout, I stumbled across the best cask ale I have ever put my lips to. Marston's Pedigree - New World Golden Pale Ale, it was perfection. With a delicate carbonation, a beautiful soft and subtly sweet malt and the most beautifully subtle hop profile, sitting in the sun on the bank of the Thames, with my lovely Amy in tow, it was the best drinking experience ever. I even splurged for a second.

Thomas in heaven
On cloud nine, we continued our cycle journey through the open fields next to the river catching glimpses back to the city with the high church steeples poking out above the green cityspace. We met a friendly but scary looking bunch of cows hanging out on our bike path and proceeded cautiously around them and the landmines they had left scattered. 

Amy and the Thames
 Aside from having a good explore by ourselves, we were just thrilled to spend some time with our family. Being apart so often makes just being able to all sit down to dinner together a high light. We had brought over some craft beers from the U.S to share with Mike, and we enjoyed some good yarns with Char in the evenings. Playing with Elliott is as much fun for me as it would have been for him. I am just a kid at heart so I was as stoked to play rough and tumble or shoot Elliott's first GoPro movie of him doing extreme backyard cycling.

Our last day in Oxford, Amy decided to climb the St Mary the Virgin tower giving her spectacular views of the city. A great way to end our time in this beautiful, and historic city.  It wasn't such a sad goodbye, because we knew we'd be seeing the Clarks again in just a week. For now, on to Germany!

Thomas and Amy enjoying the history and beauty of Oxford

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