There are two ways of driving back to Birkenhead from Oxford. The first and easier way is to start on the M40, move onto the M42 before the hard slog of the M6 until you can join the M56 and then the M53 to take you all the way back home in two and half hours of teeth clenched motorway driving. It can be more interesting to find a way to do at least some of the journey cross country and we gave this a try when driving back on Tuesday.
We probably left it too late before deciding on the route that was to take us on the M40 and then the M42 past Birmingham and across the top of the Black Country into the wilds of Shropshire.
Part of the thinking behind all this was how good the autumnal colours would look as we wound our way up to Ludlow and then onto Oswestry. All went well until we got past Kidderminster when a low cloud enveloped the hills and obscured whatever good views might have been available. By the time we crossed over Titterstone Clee we could barely see the side of the road. We carried on past Ludlow and onto Bishops Castle lured on by the thought of a good pub lunch and fine ale.
We had stopped off in Bishops Castle two years ago for lunch and somewhere in the back of our minds we had meant to go back, the big attraction being The Three Tuns Inn & Brewery.
It was all that I had remembered. A large cavernous pub perched off the high street, a selection of six different beers on tap from the brewery next door and a menu of good solid pub grub – all with chips. Two of us had the 8oz home made burger with bacon, onion ring and chips. It was far better and far better value than the one had in Byron a few weeks ago. There was also a plate of fish and chips with a bowlful of thick mushy peas.
The food slipped down with a few good pints of 1642. Whilst standing at the bar I was reminded that back in the basement at home there were two jugs for beer that they would have filled for me to take back. I resisted the temptation to purchase another.
On the walk back to the car we diverted into a second book shop and I resisted another tempation to pick up a copy of The Folio Edition of In Search of Lost Time for the bargain price of £30.00.