Fire Up Above And Fire Down Below



This is being posted two days late because we went away for the weekend and I forgot to take my laptop charger with me.

Christmas trees

You have to be quick to secure a Ferndene Farm Shop Christmas tree. Before setting off for Bicester, we bought one and

Christmas tree

stood it in a bucket of water in the garden. The man operating the tubular apparatus that wraps the trees was a plant supplier who had popped into the shop for coffee and a cake. He found himself standing in for about ten minutes during which time he sold 7/8 trees.

Immediately afterwards we drove to Bicester in Oxfordshire where we stayed overnight at Watts Lodge, a Bed and Breakfast establishment operated by octogenarian Mr Watts, with help from his wife.

Having checked in we enjoyed a late lunch at Jacob’s Plough. My club sandwich and Jackie’s Caesar salad were very good and we were encouraged by the friendly staff to try Sainsbury’s Superstore for a charger I wasn’t optimistic, but we thought we would give it a try.

Jackie’s late former father-in-law grew up in a small thatched cottage which, as far as she can remember, stood on a site close to Sainsbury’s, now alongside a huge Travel Lodge. I am never very good at negotiating huge stores. This one was no exception. We parked on the top level of the car park. This was entitled Level 2. Even now I can’t remember the logic which was to take us down to the ground floor from which we had to ascend by travelator to the first floor of the store. Feeling like a rat in a maze, I wandered up and down several times without finding my way back into the shopping area, until a helpful customer explained the system. Among the various items of leads, cables, and suchlike, there was no such thing as a laptop charger.


Having returned to the rooftop car park I found the best aspect of the trip. The sun

Sunset 1

was sinking

Sunset 2

over the town

Sunset 3

and I happened


to be standing at the best viewing vantage point, outside the door to Level 2.

I did my best not to notice the trampoline effect of the surface as I walked across the store roof. As she sat in the car, Jackie found the reverberations difficult to ignore.

I understand that Bicester was once a prosperous town which lost much of its prosperity after the Americans who had been based their during the second world war pulled out some years later.

Bicester Village is a fabrication  It is a vast shopping development concentrating on the luxury market. Because of the boasted price reductions hopeful customers drive many miles to buy the designer goods. Many travel by train from London’s Marlebone station to the renamed Bicester Village (originally Town) railway station. They have no need to visit the old town. Once they have done their shopping they go home.

Opened in 1995  invites us to ‘Discover a world of luxury at Bicester Village, the region’s ultimate shopping destination. Home to more than 160 fashion and lifestyle boutiques, each offers savings of up to 60%, all year round.’

Needless to say, we didn’t visit this phenomenon, owned by Value Retail plc.

In the evening I walked into Pioneer Square and booked a table at Shakil’s restaurant.

Christmas lights

On my return I was diverted into New Road, at the end of which stands a house which is reminiscent of our Byron Road. In this case just one man assembles this display in order to raise a considerable amount of money for charity.

The meal at Shakil’s was excellent. It had been wise to book, for the place was packed out. We were advised that the nearest parking spot was Sainsbury’s car park.We therefore returned to the superstore. The public toilets underneath the building were surrounded by firefighters and a couple of engines. All seemed under control, so up we went.once more. A deafening fire alarm reverberated throughout the car park. but no-one was leaving and we knew the fire had been extinguished. Of course the lift wasn’t working, so we walked downstairs and through an alley to the restaurant.

Jackie enjoyed her chicken something, as I did my lamb naga. We both drank Kingfisher.








    1. Many thanks, Pauline. Quite right. In fact I had intended to take a break, but didn’t have time before we left to dash off a post alerting my loyal friends, like you, to my absense. So I took the laptop with me. Sigmund would have been proud of my forgetfulness 🙂

  1. This was such an interesting, incredible day! The superstore experience was frustrating and so glad the emergence upon the sun setting occurred. The photos are magnificent, Derrick.
    I had a delicious chicken marsala with a wilted salad on Friday, for Felicia’s birthday party. We ordered individual meals, while her boyfriend ordered wines, I had worked so I had coffee. It was tiramisu for dessert. Take care!

  2. Wow, that was all-round a very interesting day and some great sunset pic’s, and I had chicken and salads for dinner, with a glass/or two of Fine Old Tawny, St Anne’s Vineyards, Echuca, a commemorative bottle, Celebrating 100 years of the paddle-steamer P.S.Pevensey.

  3. It’s good to have a beautiful distraction after a confusing experience. I’ve been known to call large stores to ask if they have an item in stock. if they say yes, I ask what aisle it’s on!

  4. I experienced withdrawal symptoms for two days due to your absence from the Blogosphere. I am glad you secured your Christmas tree. The images of sunset are top notch.

  5. An eventful visit by the sound of it. you do realise, don’t you, that superstores and the like are designed to make you feel uncomfortable and confused? It’s part of a Plan – which I keep meaning to write about when I’m in a suitably serious frame of mind.

  6. By bad organization, I was reduced to searching Bicester Village for a last-minute present for a host who lives locally. I didn’t succeed, and I vowed never again! I still shudder to think of the experience.

  7. Sounds like you and Jackie had some time away to go shopping. Those sunset photos from your trip are gorgeous! One can’t buy those anywhere. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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