Generally speaking, I’m useless at doing nothing. Even if I’m watching television I am usually doing something else at the same time. However, on Monday evening I found myself doing just that – staring out the front of the tent into space and doing absolutely nothing. It didn’t last long, but I think it showed how ready I was for a break.

Medieval cottages in Bibury

Medieval cottages in Bibury

On Tuesday we went to Chedworth Roman Villa, where we caught on to the end of the children’s tour. Apparently the Romans introduced large, white snails which they used for food and their descendants still live in the area, which pleased my youngest a lot as he likes snails. We also saw a lizard basking in the sunshine. That afternoon we went to one of my favourite museums, Keith Harding’s Mechanical Music Museum. A rather brilliant collection of reed organs, barrel organs, paper roll pianos and old disc players. What I really love about the place is the disc they made of David Bowie’s ‘As the World Falls Down’ for the music box scene at the beginning of Labyrinth, as it’s always been one of my favourite films and I can recite whole sections of the dialogue from memory. We heard Gershwin duetting with himself on Rhapsody in Blue on a reproducing piano! Another much-loved museum is the Pitt Rivers in Oxford, but I missed out on that this time. Still, at least my children got to look at the shrunken heads!  Anyway, after the museum, on the advice of a chatty, elderly lady who stopped to talk to us in the street, we drove down through several beautiful little Cotswold villages to Bibury.

Wednesday saw a trip across to Waddesdon Manor, where we counted several hundred cows, horses, cats, dogs, rats and storks in all the paintings and sculptures… There was an interesting art installation, Canticus Arcticus, by Bruce Munro in the stables and the house was full of linen fold sculptures by Joan Sallas.

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

Then on our last day we went on a walk round Port Meadow on the edge of Oxford. Lovely place, but made even better by the company of a friend.  We never got to the Treacle Well, as we didn’t get far enough down the road, but it didn’t matter.  A lovely and very relaxing day out.

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