Friday, October 16, 2009

The bicycle graveyard in Oxford

For some reason yesterday, I thought of the bicycle graveyard.  I think it was because I saw all the bike racks that look like poles with the London Underground symbol attached, which made me think of England and bikes and that short stretch of fence in Oxford where the street divides around a tiny catholic church and its tiny graveyard right before you get to Cornmarket Street.

For some reason, that fence was always adorned with bits of bicycles left behind when other bits of the bicycle were stolen.  There were a lot of seats and front tires with attached bike chains clinging to that wrought-iron-y fence around the ancient graveyard.  It was like a zombie movie, night of the living dead bicycles.

That area always seemed very chilly to me.  Probably this was because the wonky intersection and the tall buildings around it blocked out the sun as I would walk through there in the morning.  It could have had something to do with the Martyrs Memorial at my back as I walked south.  There were a lot of trees in that graveyard, too, muffling what little light would have been left. 

Often I would take the western branching of the road so as to avoid that oddly cold spot, but it was mostly because there was a patisserie on that side of the divide, and a fist-sized quiche Lorraine covered a multitude of hardships on a two mile early morning walk to class.  Mmmmmm, quiche Lorraine. 

I wouldn't always get a quiche because if I didn't leave early, the patisserie would be sold out by the time I got there, which would make me want to cry a little. It was tough to talk about Augustine and philosophy that was way over my head on an empty stomach after a late night trying to write smart 8-10 page papers every week.  The quiche made it better.  Or some real hot chocolate from that cart vendor just on the other side of the High Street. 

No cream, thank you.  It was like putting butter in your hot chocolate and left little oily bubbles covering the top of your chocolate as the skin formed so fast on the really cold mornings.


  1. Ooooh... pasties... and scones with clotted cream... makes me want to cry.

    I don't remember the bicycle graveyard, and I must've walked near there on almost a daily basis on my way to New College. Hmmm.

  2. Maybe they'd cleaned up the corpses by the time you were there. :) It was where Magdalen Street split.

    How could you say it?! Now I'm drooling. Scones with clotted creammmmmm . . .

  3. Yeah, I studied the street view on Google Maps for a while (and got all nostalgic) and I know the graveyard you mean, but perhaps they did clean it up. Did you know the guy from the honors class after mine who went by the name of Nigel? We saw him a few weeks ago, and turns out he did the Oxford thing too, and he and I indulged in some serious reminiscing... apparently we both attended St. Ebbes and New College Chapel. I miss evensong. And Nigel's an Anglican priest now. The world's a funny old place...

    Paul makes scones sometimes. I'm tempted to try the following (from Wikipedia):

    "When clotted cream is not commercially available, a reasonable copy may be made by combining two parts whole milk with one part whipping (heavy) cream, heating at the very lowest possible heat for a couple of hours until a skin forms, leaving it undisturbed overnight, and then harvesting the skin and its underclots. The remaining milk may be consumed or used in any number of recipes."

    We're trying to move to your part of the country... if it works I'll make you scones & clotted creammmmmm and we can miss Oxford together.

  4. An Anglican priest?! Wow. I should thank him; I wrote a really good poem once because of him . . .

    I should post a piece I wrote about St. Aldate's some time. (They were the other Anglican church that really reached out to Oxford students, if I remember right.)

    Wow. The great white north is calling you? I guess you've had enough experience with ridiculous snow in New York. :) Let me know if I can help.

  5. I went to a St. Aldate's alpha group for a little while with a British housemate of mine who was a curious atheist. We also attended a larger weeknight service once. Very interesting, that.