England’s Green and Pleasant Land

Posted on May 9, 2012 by

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Infuriating. Head Bangingly Infuriating. Take a few days precious annual leave, book a hotel for a bit of quality time away and you can’t venture out because of a force 8. Back at work, the sun comes out. After much chewing of the proverbial, we chose Oxford’s gleaming spires for our treat. Hah! Pigs might. Unrelenting rain. In at the neck. Out of the trainers. Not the only disappointment. Oxford, apart from a delightful, covered market, is, to put it mildly, a dump. The once beautiful city needs Photoshop. The welcome starts in the Westgate multi-storey: Caution! Stairwell Might Be Wet!  As, indeed, it is. Used as a pissoir, the stench is eye watering. Don’t you just love England? Oxford Council hang your head in shame. Morse and Lewis (TV shows for readers from overseas) contravene The Trades Descriptions Act. Today, the murderer in the The Secret of Bay 5B (Morse 1989would not need to garotte his victim, he could just leave him to expire of ammonia fumes. As for the centre, think Lakeside, think Harlow, think Stevenage then add some. Horrendous. Fortuitously we had a treat to look forward to. We managed to book a table at Brasserie Blanc (like gold after his recent wonderful TV series The Very Hungry Frenchman). Waiting for the cab, we watched Monsieur Blanc YouTube-ing hot smoked salmon with beetroot salad followed by roast wild duck. The fantasy meal came true as we ate it later washed down with a bottle of Fleurie. Parfait! French years away from English chavs and English piss, Brasserie Blanc saved the day. Next morning gloomily peering through the window at the wind and rain, himself suggests we cut our visit short. Go HOME???!!! What about the Sheldonian? The Ashmolean? Christ’s College? Never! Well. Not until five minutes later in the car park picking branches out of the radiator grille. Never mind, says he, we’ll have a nice lunch on the way home. Nice lunch!? Are you MAD!? This is England!! For legal reasons, best draw a veil over the I Saw You Coming pathetic effort where the wine was more expensive than at Brasserie Blanc. Talk about Rip Off Britain. Have you booked Sir? says Maitre D. No, says himself pointedly looking round the empty dump (still half empty when we left an hour later) while refusing a table opposite the loos.  A sign in the window says This Pub Was Burnt Down in 2003. Now there’s a surprise.

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