Monday, March 28, 2011

The White Horse that managed to drag us away - Part Two

Days Remaining to Next Beer: 352

While we spent a short time in White Horse, we made the most of our time there, exploring the landscape, getting the lay of the land, watching the cattle slowly graze along the valley floor laced with ribbons of morning  mist. It's the sort of place where people stop by the tavern to see if anyone has seen a loose horse run by and to confirm the time for the Rugby finals to be shown on the big screen the next night in the tavern.

We visited a horse farm where I ran amok snapping loads of pictures around the barns barns and sheds with my 12" pal while the Missus and my friends checked out the horses and chat with the stable owner's daughter. And with horses there come a regular occurrence of horse droppings dotting the landscape. Boomer loves horses, and loves their deposits even more. Can you tell I'm writing this sitting in an airport in Montreal, and that I miss our 100 pound mutt?

The property had more than horse stables, though, and that's what made me so excited. Sarah and David had firmly instructed me to bring my1/6th scale pal along for the excursion, and once there assured me that since their wonderful little cottage belonged to the wonderful family that owned the ranch, for lack of a better term, we had free run of the place as long as nothing ended up collapsing or on fire. And so I and my 12 inch mascot began to explore the work sheds and barns and fence rows and storage buildings, discovering new and exciting things around every turn.

On building had several ancient vehicles, a domestic family sedan, a vintage tractor, all in good shape though over grown a bit and fringed with my favorite second favorite color, rust. My absolute favorite color is oxygen starved River's Edge, Twin Peaks Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic expensive and elitist hue of paint to make during the Renaissance blue.

Another structure with angular holes through with god rays of sunshine poured, transforming flecks of drifting pollen and dust in the air into dancing fireflies when they passed through the shafts of fiery illumination, held a collection of tools, wood working machines, and abandoned old kitchen and laundry machines. Seemed like you could fling or drop the doll almost anywhere and create a composition that at least caused a chuckle. Despite the scale differential, the playground of archaic machines and tools support scene after scene of a diminutive protagonist negotiating a wonderful landscape with nary a fear of tetanus, lock jaw, or premature digital detachments.

For one outings, our friends took us to a public house of some regional notoriety, the Prince of Wales in Shrivenham. Walking in we passed a gent wearing a t-shirt that on the back asked the obvious question, how's my drinking? Inside the place I learned that the shirt is a strange sort of promotional traveling gnome sort of thing, that folks that like the place buy the shirt, and when they travel to places abroad, they send back photos for the owner / operator to hang up on the wall of fame / shame.

I bought a shirt and subsequently sent them snaps of the shirt in action in Paris, Prague, Vancouver, and I think possibly also Stockholm.

Another odd thing the management of the Prince of Wales saw fit to adopt as policy is to graphical demonstrate a green practice, and that manifest through throwing spent or emptied crisps bags into the eternally roaring fireplace.

The management felt this would help demonstrate to the locals a benefit of only serving crisps or chips in bags from companies using the newer corn based bags that are supposed to be bio-degradable, meaning, the bags will also burn away clean and possibly look really cool doing so.
After exploring some of the local area, Sarah took us to Oxford to see a public house known as the White Horse Duke of York that had remained open and in operation since the 16oos. A spot by the heart of campus that had gotten generation after generation of Freshmen drunk celebrating exams or simply celebrating the weather. A narrow, wood laden space that reeked of what could only be described as primordial pints, entering and stepping down the steep stairs, you couldn't help feeling like I was stepping down into the berth of a ship, bar along the length of one side, narrow seats and tables lining the other where cannons could conceivable once been were this actually a vessel at sea.

Dexterous wait staff whisked food and pints through the throng of students and regulars, and I wondered where the kitchen was, a question soon answered when a bell rang, the barman hollered the all clear "mind the gap" and heave-hauled the floor plane up behind the bar on a hing, revealing another, even narrower stairs in the form of a sloped step ladder the sort you might expect to climb up into an attic with. Shrouded in a rising billow of steam, a waitress emerged carring twice her body weight of grub and bar back supplies, scooting out from behind bar while the barman let the hinged plank with the rubber grid nailed to the top clomp back down so he could resume attending the standing room only guests down the length of the bar.

Sarah pointed out the massive book on the bar, one of several, a registry where visitors could leave a note and tell where the herald from. Leafing through the large, beer tinged tome, I spot signatures, names, notes, and doodles from places far farther away than our Vancouver. Japan, Australia, Nepal, Texas, Rio, Isreal. So many notes, languages, even the occasional taped in snapshot. There are dozens of those books, I discover, going back years and years since someone had the notion to keep a registry at the bar. So of course I spent the next hour doing a doodle in the newest installment of the book, fueled by some of the finest pints in all of the Queen's country.

The night before we bid our friends and White Horse a sad farewell, the world's Rugby finals were having their culminating match in France, the teams were South Africa went head to head with England, and we were able to be wall flowers while the entire local village descend on the B & B's tavern to watch the game projected across the full back wall of the place from an HD projector via a live satellite feed. I've never cared more about a Rugby game since watching our friend Reuben play back in high school before we all went our separate ways. Pint raised for you, Reuben, you're missed by many, myself included.

We enjoyed pulled pints, pot pies, loud peoples, and more of the same, please. A hoot of an evening, and one for the proverbial books. Hell of a way to kick off a honeymoon, and my deepest thanks to my friends Sarah , David, and the owners of the White Horse Bed & Breakfast for showing us such a grand, eternally memorable time!


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