I cycled to Charlbury and back today as practice for the London to Brighton (albeit only half the distance). The highlight, apart from much glorious countryside, and seeing a hare closer than ever before, was North Leigh Roman Villa. Very well preserved foundations, many still with hypocaust intact – and the most astonishing mosaic, preserved in a locked shed, but with window views. It’s enormous. The site is a beautiful, tranquil place, which I had all to myself in the grey drizzle, and I almost feel guilty for telling anyone about it.
I’ve perhaps been unfair to Oxfordshire at times – I’m not hugely drawn to flat landscapes, but of course Oxon isn’t all flat. Last night H and I went for a marvellous, and very restorative, cycle through what for me is ‘proper’ countryside, rolling, woody and clucking. There was more than just clucking: as well as muntjacs, we saw a herd of alpacas and, best of all, a fleet of piglets came running across their field to see us.
A week or so ago M and I went to the Rollrights, too – another inevitably uplifting megalithic site, largely unspoilt, surrounded by cow parsley and views.