I was on assignment in England. Oxford to be precise. I was to capture the people, their faces and their expressions against Oxford's lush green gardens and crowded watering holes. I thought about hiring a driver for the day, perhaps hopping into a cabby, but I decided I would be boldly adventurous. After all, I was in England, it was summer time and I was alone—sans boss, sans the office, sans my Blackberry which I intentionally left on my living room ottoman before leaving my SoHo apartment in Manhattan.
I decided I would make a special inquiry where I was staying, Pickwicks, a bed & breakfast on London Road. At breakfast in the café, I asked a gentleman seated next to me, piling marmite on his warm and flaky croissant, if he knew if Pickwicks rented bicycles. "Oh yes, of course they do! I rented one yesterday," he said, "I went as far as Kinglington in fact."
Kinglington? I thought. Kinglington was another town away and this gentleman was rather portly, yet from where I was seated I could view his legs past his baggy shorts. They were sturdy and strong, obviously well-exercised when he wasn't indulging his culinary senses.
I ordered two poached eggs and another portion of Nutella for my toast. I considered the hash browns, but figured I would stop somewhere later that afternoon to fill up on energy.
"Have a jolly time!" shouted the gentleman as he sipped his tea and waved goodbye to me. Jolly time indeed. Yes, I would.
I went around back, past the rose garden and found several bicycles lined up in succession, one after the other, as if they were horses ready to be taken down the trodden path of England's damp and dewy soil. There was a small sign that read "Five Pounds."
But since no one was around, and of course I looked in every direction to make sure, I took one of the traditional Pashley bicycles with an ivory-colored frame and charming woven basket, and walked it to the front of Pickwicks. The concierge waved and said something about riding on the left side of the road. There was hardly any traffic and I hadn't a map on me, but of course I had my Canon over my shoulder and my Pashley bicycle leading the way. I got on and headed downtown passing young collegiate types drinking pints of bitter, parks where nannies tended to flocks of children chasing quacking ducks, and boisterous soccer players dribbling a soccer ball to and fro.