Being without the car certainly has it's problems, but in some ways it has it's up-side. It means that we have to find some other way to get out and about if we want an outing. So we decided on taking the bus to Oxford, a city we've visited on several occasions. But, before we left the house we did out shopping on-line through Sainsbury's website. Another job which is made easier because they do all the hard work for us, pick the items we order for us and deliver when we want. What could be better? We had a discount voucher which was emailed soon after our last order, for £9, that is, if we spent £60 or more. Which is what we managed to do, and then booked a delivery slot on Saturday for 6.30 p.m. It's surprising how quickly you can do the order now we've got a 'favourites' list on the website and it craftily knows our 'likes' from what we buy the most often. From using our Nectar card which collects data every time we shop using the thing.
We left the house at around 9.15 and caught the bus into central Milton Keynes. I didn't realise that my bus-pass wasn't valid for free transport before 9.30, so I had to pay 90p which was a surprise. We got into the shopping centre and just managed to miss the Oxford bus, the X5. The next one was due to leave from outside the Point at around 9.45, so it gave us just enough time to nip into the shopping centre to get some cash out of a cash machine and then go into Boot's as Carol wanted some travel sickness tablets. Last time we went on the bus to Oxford, for some reason she felt travel-sick, so some sort of tablet was the solution. But in Boot's we could see anything on the shelves and had to go to the pharmacy counter as it was probably going to be the sort of tablet you could only purchase 'over the counter.' There was one woman at the till, seemingly gossiping to the assistant who was really not interested in speeding up the transaction and was more interested in the conversation that worrying about us standing behind. The time was approaching rapidly for us to get back to the bus stop, probably less than 10 minutes, so we left the two gossiping. Not the sort of thing I would have expected from Boots as they generally seem to employ staff who do a good job. Bu this particular staff-member wasn't interested in customer care, more in the conversation with her friend. We hot-footed it from the premises and got to the bus stop ready to board the bus.
It took a good deal longer than the last time we used the X5, probably because of the amount of traffic on the road. Did it really matter if it did, as we were just pleased to be out of the house and able to enjoy the sunshine. After the rain we've had over the past few days, it was a real pleasure, and we intended to make the most of it. But it's a great journey, and, being a good deal higher up than the car, you see things that you wouldn't otherwise see. I must say we are spoilt around her with some fantastic landscape. Probably not as dramatic as, for example, Yorkshire or Devon or Dorset, but, all the same, really beautiful. We wanted a snack on arriving in Oxford. We managed to find the perfect place in a small cafe called Taylor's of Oxford (apparently it's a chain of cafes and they have a few other branches throughout Oxford, we later learned) and had coffee and filled toasties. It's in Gloucester Green, just behind the bus station. Don't ask me why it's called that. It's a large square which has shops and restaurants all around it and nothing to indicate 'green' in the slightest. No grass or even trees. Never mind. We shall remember this place and use it again when we visit Oxford again in the future. Not to be confused with another Taylor's, the tea and coffee people who are related to Betty's in Harrogate, another fantastic catering establishment we enjoy when we visit Yorkshire. Having revived ourselves after our journey we made our way to the Ashmolean Museum and spent some time meandering around this fantastic place. You can get quite lost within this museum and forget the time it is so enthralling. More wandering and ending up in the covered market which Carol had wanted to visit. She is currently looking for a new handbag to replace the one she has at the moment which is not large enough to carry everything she wants. She saw one she liked but may look around to see what else is on offer. Then we found a shop and cafe called Pieminister, which sells really amazing and tasty pies of different descriptions. We tried some of these pies some while ago when we went to Bicester Avenue garden centre and I didn't know they had cafes as well as selling through Sainsbury's. We bought a couple of their pies with different fillings for our evening meal. another wander around the city, ending up in Blackwell's, one of those bookshops in which you can loose yourself and you go up and down stairs and into so many different departments that it's a sort of maze. I managed to come across a good selection of books which I would probably buy and read, but not on this occasion. So time was indeed marching on so we decided we'd seen all we wanted but before we left Oxford we found a Cafe Nero branch and had a cold drink each and got back to the bus station and caught the next X5 back home to Milton Keynes. The traffic was getting quite busy as we left Oxford and got back on the main road out of the city and were only too glad that we neither of us had to drive! The bus arrived at the railway station and, once we'd alighted we had to find a number 5 going towards Bletchley. This duly arrived and we found it almost completely crowded and had to sit at the rear, which meant over the engine. A clapped-out bus it turned out to be and it was hot where we had to sit, do doubt because it was over the engine. I was surprised by how jerky and uncomfortable the ride was back home to Eaglestone and it seemed that every bump, pot-hole in the road and jolt made by the road-surface contributed to a really uncomfortable ride. This, not helped by the speed bumps around the city centre. It seems amazing that the roads around Milton Keynes, which is supposed to be a modern city, should be in such a poor state of repair.