I didn’t want to go. It had been a long(ish) day at work and all I wanted was an evening at home. The sound of that was not too appealing to Anthony, who obviously thrives on human interaction. “It won’t be so bad.” He said, “Just a quick four miles on a bike and we’ll be there!” Still not very appealing.
In the end, his persuasiveness prevailed and we donned our helmets and bike lights and took to our cycles. We underestimated how dark it would be at that time of night and as we rode on into more unfamiliar territory, it grew ever more dim. By the time we reached the main ring road, it was completely dark. There were no street lamps. We had a bit of trouble finding the cycle track that ran along the busy highway. The only light was from the cars, appearing in the distance, rushing closer then blinding you for a moment before they passed behind us. It was hard to navigate the pitch black path with only bike lights and the occasional flash of light from a passing car. As we went further on, things began to feel very much...different. The world was silent but for the cars and the soft rustle coming from the trees, of which only a silhouette was visible. I shied away from them, having seen more than I wanted of English spiders. We rolled down the road through the cool air, coming suddenly under the night sky. It was filled with stars unfamiliar to me and I was gripped with a delicious sense of strangeness, just the two of us, travelers in the dark. I glanced back at Anthony, momentarily lit up by the light of a passing car. I laughed. He was nervous. It was dark and we had no idea where we were.
It took us another 45 min to find the house but when we did, we were greeted by kind English people with snacks. I was given an elderberry cordial. I felt like I was dining in the court of a fairy queen. I think it was the name “Elderberry Cordial” that made me feel that way. Its probably super common here but it somehow struck my fancy.
After a cozy evening of good conversation it was time to go home. We got our bikes and after a quick shudder at an especially large spider illuminated by the porch light, we set out again. The journey home was much quicker along that same lonely road. I breathed in the cold air, gazed up at the stars and tried not to crash my bike.
I love this magical city, despite the nasty English spiders. It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings when Tolkien described the spider known as Shelob who attacked Frodo and Sam as, "She served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness."
This picture doesn't have to do with anything. Its a sundial in Blenheim Palace. I like details.