A few weeks ago, after a particularly wet and miserable weekend, we decided late on the Sunday afternoon to get out in the Ratmobile and enjoy the sudden appearance of the sun.
Total distance traveled: less than 30 miles
Total time at the wheel: About 4 hours
Packets of square crisps eaten: 8
Escaping out of our village via the back-roads, we pootled around for couple of hours exploring the countryside and hills beyond Bicester. It wasn’t a long drive, maybe only 30 miles, but is was full of lovely views and interesting places.
After traversing a particularly ramshackle road, where a piece of broken tarmac damaged Ratty’s undersides, we happened upon a interesting little village called Westcott with a very different sort of history. In 1946 the Ministry of Supply set up the Rocket Propulsion Establishment on the former site of RAF Westcott. Complete with it’s own band of ‘liberated’ German scientists and captured Nazi wonder weapons, this site was involved in the design and development of all the major British rocket engines for the next 4 decades, until it was handed over to private companies, notably BAE, in 1987. It is mainly an industrial estate now, with a marvellous village deli and cafe open to all, but there is still some rocketeering being done – all be it on a much smaller (and quieter) scale. Interestingly, in 2013 English Heritage gave all the surviving test buildings Grade II listed status.
Having left the space race behind us we had a lovely drive up into the hills towards Aylesbury and then doubled back towards Oxfordshire. Eventually, after a few wrong turns and some wonderful vistas, we ended up at Brill Windmill, located in the village of Brill just north of Thame.
The Windmill has timbers dating from 1685, and is one of the earliest and best preserved examples of a post mill in the UK. The windmill is still running and is open to the public at various times between March and September. Alas, due to some major structural work by the local council to ensure it’s survival, the windmill is now static and cannot be turned into the wind. It was restored in 2009 by the Brill Windmill Management Group, which hopefully gives it a nice long future ahead of it.
The view from the windmill is magnificent and while we stood in it’s shadow we watched a beautiful sunset over misty landscape – it really was a magical sight with a wondrous light that drew out many a local photographer.
It really was a fantastic drive and I heartily recommend this kind of outing next time the weather has been horrible and you’ve been stuck in the house for ages. It’s a great way of blowing away the cobwebs and getting some air, and best of all you’ll never know where you’ll end up!
Regulars among you may have noticed that we didn’t stop at a pub – don’t worry, we weren’t ill, it just so happens we already had a bottle on the go at home. Besides our daughter wanted to make some vegetable soup – just the ticket on a cold day and a great way to end a fantastic adventure.
Cheers my Friends!