Saturday, August 30, 2008

Uxbridge: not so bad really

Uxbridge has one of those unfortunate names, like Huddersfield (or Kidderminster, or Scunthorpe) that makes you fear the worst before you even get there. Approaching by canal, it certainly isn't pretty (but then handsome is as handsome does), but I went into the town this morning and it wasn't at all bad. For a start, there weren't loads of boarded up shops, and only a couple of charity shops (to my disappointment, not having been in one for a month). There was a good variety of shops - the place was bigger than I'd expected - and a church, and two (not one but two) covered arcades into which I did not venture. At any rate, it was better than Hertford, and much better than I expected.

There are lots of pubs too. We quite liked the look of the Crown and Treaty, where apparently they have interesting panelling, but as they don't do food at weekends (!?) we ended up in the canalside Swan and Bottle, a Chef and Brewer outfit in honour of which I have coined a new word: ersatzmosphere. Good, huh? I wouldn't have known that all the beams were fake, the carefully aged brickwork new (but Jim pointed out that they were metric bricks. Did you even know there was such a thing?); the real old wood imported and the artfully randomised selection of chairs just that, other than it was an almost identikit copy of the Bridge at Clayhythe on the Cam. San fairy ann, at least the beer was good, if a trifle too cold: just the way I like it - unlike at Clayhythe where it had bits floating in it - and the food was passable, and we had a nice farewell (for me at any rate) drink with Amy and James.

The rest of the day was on the face of it uneventful, except .... the sun shone! Actually shone. Not just and absence of rain and of biting force seven winds, but blue skies and actual hot sun. The sun has not shone like this since day one of the trip, exactly one calendar month ago. Although to be fair, it hasn't actually rained since we got off the Thames; I think there's a meaning in that somewhere. So I just sat in the sun all day, moving my chair around the boat to make the most of it. Conventional holiday behaviour at last, on my very final day.

Bloody hell, I'm going to miss it. Even at our lowest points, I never thought 'I'd rather be at home.'

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