novice badassery

My daughter Akychame and I went on a great bike ride yesterday – almost 15 miles – we started at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, where Sean dropped us off, and arrived (almost) in Chipping Norton feeling on top of the world, having sliced Oxford into Ox and -ford with our brute pedaling. You can see our route on the map above, although unfortunately I took the photo as a little fog was settling over the shire so it’s not as clear as I would have hoped. 
We ate dinner at Whistler’s, an adorable bistro in the center of “Chippy.” We talked for hours over brie and olives and wine (well, okay, I actually had hot cocoa piled with whipped cream and chocolate powder, which was intoxicating in its own way). I ate with chain-greased fingers and slumped posture and marveled at my daughter’s easy and natural elegance. As an added bonus, her boyfriend picked up the bill when he got out of work. Just lovely. I said that they should get married, thought not just because he picked up the bill. 
It was a cyclical trip in more ways than one. Chipping Norton is where Akychame went to high school – Kingham Hill – so going back again closed a circle in my memory. It’s where she met her boyfriend about,,,hmmm…six years ago? I had a car then, and a license. I never dreamed I’d revisit those roads by bike. 
My daughter and I even managed to make two repairs en route, thanks to a workshop at Oxford’s Broken Spoke last week. I love the Broken Spoke off the corner of St. Aldate’s and Pembroke – a bike workshop with aprons that have inner-tube ribbons. A bike workshop with the most friendly, helpful staff imaginable and cake and tea (with fresh mint sprigs, to boot). And you have to walk through the Story Museum to get to it, which is a bit magical. My dream is to return in the fall to make my own bike…ooohhhhhh!
My younger daughter is farther south on the map this weekend – at the Boomtown Festival in Winchester, where she’s seeing Akala, her favorite hip hop artist. She asked me to watch his TED talk linking hip hop with Shakespeare. Fantastic. 
So incredible that there is no ocean between me and my girls this summer. Do you see an ocean in Oxfordshire? Nope, not a single one. 

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