Another birthday day arrived with a postponed supper taken at The Cherwell Boathouse in Oxford after a visit to the Ashmolean Museum for coffee and a snack and visit to some of the new galleries, followed by tea at Brown’s restaurant where we met Rachael, who had been finishing off some end-of-term stuff at The Dragon School. The mixed ‘summer’ weather continues with periods of bright sunshine and heavy showers. The Times had an article in the morning indicating that a theory links the rapidly melting icecaps with our extreme weather with semi-continuous rain at our end of the apparently stalled Jet Stream with the USA getting the dry heatwave at the other.
The heavy rain had caused the Cherwell to rise and as we walked down to The Boathouse, on the river and at the back of The Dragon, there were signs up saying that there was no punting as the platform was partly under water and the current strong. We dined on the raised ‘decking’ restaurant extension, under heaters and behind plastic rolldown windows giving us a superb view out onto the turgid river and moored punts -and the service and food were excellent as expected. Veronica recalled that she and the family had lunched here many years before after Rachael’s university graduation ceremony and we both remembered the family lunch we’d had here before son Christopher’s wedding, followed by a rather raucous expedition in punts upstream.
Driving home it was still light at nearly 9pm and the sky looked turbulent with dark rainclouds and patches of cloudless sky. Arriving, we were met by an exuberant Sophie who had been ‘walked’ on the hills during the afternoon, who when she wanted to go outside into the garden had a surprise as she met – through the French window glass – a large but very young grey seagull who seemed to want to come inside. Jonathan Livingston Seagull came to mind – a book by David Back who wrote about a quite different and philosophical young seagull who didn’t want what other seagulls wanted – rather like this one, who seemed to want to move in. It showed no fear and although our friendly Golden Retriever Sophie managed to rush out to meet the intruder, she turned back immediately (for once) on being called, and only with difficulty did I persuade the seagull to walk down the garden path and out onto the banks of the Chelt behind the house, where it settled down for the night. Hopefully its parents will find it again and persuade ‘Jonathan’ to go elsewhere to safety. The bird’s name instantly came to mind when the words ‘Livingston’ and ‘Seagull’ linked, as Livingston is one of Veronica’s family’s names, her own surname being Livingston until we married.