I feel philosophical today so let’s start with a question: are our moods affecting how we see things or are the things we see affecting our moods?
After a winter interruption, I decided to take my first spring trip into the Cotswolds today. I would like to state at this point that I have relocated in the Chilterns and that getting to the Cotswolds is now an expedition rather than a trip down the road. Speaking of roads, I really am wondering one thing: why on earth is there always a cyclist in front of me or/and a Land Rover tailgating me when the rest of the road is absolutely quiet? Have I done anything to upset anyone up there?
My first stop was to the town of Charlbury, which I found rather dull and boring. If my mood improves later I might find something else to say about it. Just not right now. From Charlbury I set off towards Chipping Norton already a bit put off by the road works in Oxford and the cyclists on the way to Charlbury but determined to take it easy and enjoy the glorious countryside drive. This was before a Land Rover decided to tailgate me all the way up there. We were literally the only two cars on the road on that 5 mile stretch. I desperately looked for somewhere to pull by but couldn’t find anything so I started feeling pressured and rushed, annoyed that he wouldn’t overtake me. I tried slowing down to 30m/h and still he would not overtake though I hope I pissed him off in the process. Patience is not my strong suit so I arrived in Chipping Norton all worked up, grumpy and cursing. Is it a coincidence then that I found the place both unpleasant and soulless?
It is fair to say that Chipping Norton is not at all what I had expected. Over the years I have heard about the Chipping Norton crowd getting properties in and around the town. If this appealed to celebs so much then it had to be THE model Cotswolds’ place right? Wrong. All I remember about it is cars. Cars parked everywhere and other cars queuing through all available space. Cars ruining my pictures and cars polluting the air. At some point I thought they had written car centre instead of town centre on the maps. Still, even without the cars the place hasn’t got one thing that its neighbouring town don’t do better.
At this point I decided to have something sweet to eat as it usually does the trick. I chose an independent bakery so as to sample the terroir as we say in France. However, the shop assistants were more interested in their conversation than on serving so after finally getting their attention I ignored the call of the lardy cake and finally left the shop muttering “overprice stodge” under my breath, or perhaps it was inside my head. Now when I get out of a bakery without anything to eat, there is no hope of saving the day.
I nonetheless strolled towards St Mary’s church which was very pretty in a “get over it” sort of way and certainly not enough to redeem my first impression of the town. I left promptly and drove back through other pretty villages I have already forgotten about and was back in the Chilterns 4 hours after leaving.
As I am writing this now I am wondering if the day would have gone better had the Land Rover’s tires all miraculously burst at the same time. Or if I had settled on the lardy cake after all. Or if I had used the principles of mindfulness to err, mindfully see things differently. However last time I checked I was French so my emotions also rule me in a “get over it” sort of way and perhaps Chipping Norton is not at all that pretty or nice.