Banbury is a town of two halves. Above and below the salt, the salt in this case being the town lock. Above the lock, millions have been spent. All is smart and well kept and the Castle Quay shopping centre adjacent to the canal draws in the crowds from far and wide.
Once through the lock the landscape changes instantly to one of gentle urban decay. This of course is where they put the long term moorers.
We stopped in the posh bit for a two day urban fix after the remoteness of the Wormleighton wiggle where even villages are hidden over the hilltop and you can see the stars at night. No such darkness in Banbury town centre. The town has in general done a lot to make visiting by the canal a comfort. There are certainly no shortage of things to tie up to.
Kath is always complaining that I only take her out to eat at Wetherspoons, so to prove her wrong we booked in at Quisine which had had such a good write up by Sue of No Problem. See her write up here. One review I read of this place compared it to Fawlty Towers and in some ways that’s true. Certainly the lad who waited on us had a number of Manuel’s more endearing characteristics. However you have to forgive that, and the somewhat shabby decor, for the sheer charm, enthusiasm and skill of the proprietor / chef Vipen Sharma. Once we sat down in the tiny dining room, Vipen, soft spoken and smiling from ear to ear, gave us a personal briefing on what he was going to cook for us that evening. “ If you want some more of anything, just ask, and if you want to take some home afterwards, we’ll wrap it up for you”. The other customers that evening (the room only seats a dozen people), had asked for a Greek theme, so that’s what we got, at least in part.
First yummy butterbean and coriander soup and some lovely warm focaccia type bread, then 5 different humouses with pitta, then starters! 5 of them. Well the portions were small. The best was a piece of lamb fillet that melted in the mouth.
Then a (not at all small )main course of chicken with a very flavoursome sauce and cous cous and a sort of tzatziki. Then a selection of four sweets. By the end of the main course we were feeling pretty full, so we ploughed on eating bits of this and that and ended up taking home enough leftovers to give us lunch and pudding the next day. The meal took us three hours in all, although a lot of that time was waiting for the next course. I suppose it cost about three times what we usually pay in a pub, but much much nicer and a lot more fun, not to mention the doggy bags.
Thank you Sue for alerting us to it.
After leaving Banbury, our journey has returned to it’s bucolic theme as the canal chases hither and thither after the River Cherwell.
We’ve had good weather, although the rain earlier in the week has swollen the river somewhat. At Aynho weir, where the canal and the river briefly mingle, the level boards were only just below the red “Don’t go any further” line. Tomorrow we have another stretch of river to pass through, so I hope it settles down a bit.
Tonight were moored opposite the Rock of Gibraltar. Not a Barbary Ape in sight, although the bloke on a nearby boat might qualify. There’s supposed to be a folky music session in the pub tonight so I might wander over with my old mandriolium and see if I can get a note in edgeways.