The next town on the list was Stanford-in-the-vale, which I was quite excited about visiting as it had three hyphens; unfortunately, it was about now that the fatal flaw in my plan made itself known - I have a terrible memory, made worse by age, so all my efforts to remember the road numbers or indeed the intervening town names came to naught. I found myself lost and turning into increasingly-narrower and narrower roads somewhere to the west of Oxford. Then I spotted a sign for Woodstock, which made me start singing " by the time we got to Woodstock they were half-a-million strong" etc, and realised I was miles away from my route. I eventually stopped and checked my i-phone satnav and realised I'd already missed Stanford-in-the-vale and Lechlade-on-Thames, but had a fighting chance of finding Shipton-under-Wychwood. I also noticed that all traces of traffic had melted away, and I was now riding down long, sweeping roads with the Triumph feeling nice and steady and the engine finally loosening up, the open silencers making a particularly spine-tingling sound . A couple of more wrong turns found me riding down a single-track road, when I spotted a sign for a Roman villa. Thinking this would make an interesting diversion, I parked-up and walked down a long lane, only to be confronted by some old stones in the middle of a field - not what I'd anticipated. However, it did give me time to stop, rest and consider my next move.
|Remains of Roman villa in a field|
|2500 year-old mosaic floor|
- Motorcycle boots do not make good hiking boots
- Me and the Triumph were never going to get to Birmingham in one day at this rate
- I didn't actually want to go to Birmingham any more.
Once I'd made that realisation I decide to just enjoy riding these lovely roads, and end up wherever - with the proviso that if I spotted a hyphenated name on a road sign I'd head there; which is how I managed to ride through Shipton-under-Wychwood, again without stopping for a photo. More and more heavenly roads, until I reached Burford, which is one of those picturesque Cotswold villages, all honey-coloured stone, thatched roofs and, on a day like this, a bustling high street with everyone sitting outside the pubs watching the old convertible cars parading up and down. I stopped for a Cream tea in a delightful cafe and enjoyed watching the world go by. I also checked the i-phone again and realised I'd ridden south and west, now with absolutely no chance of getting to that motorcycle museum today.
I wasn't far, however, from Lechlade-on-Thames, so set off in that direction. By the time I got there I realised I was getting tired, plus the only way I'd get any more hyphenated towns was to backtrack up north, so I took an instant decision to head for home. Going back through Marlborough, Newbury and Thatcham the riding was still excellent; I bypassed Reading and picked up the M3 motorway back up to west London, finally got home around 5.30pm. So that was nine hours and 250 miles - and I didn't really go anywhere! As you can see from the lack of photos, I also failed in my attempts to 'collect' hyphenated' town photos. Hmm...must try harder next time.