We slept better Sunday night, and were ready to head toward home, having feasted on a breakfast of Cocoa Pops that we found at the Tesco convenience store in Brackley after dinner Sunday night (the actual grocery store being closed).
So first we had to decide where to go. Hmmm. I found a shopping center sign on our map at a town just south of us, so we decided to go there. Next, we had to figure out how to check out, as the hotel reception people were still off work (Monday was a "bank holiday" in England). Where was that envelope that we got with our keys when we arrived? Diaper bag? nope. Camera bag? nope. Table? Desk? Van? Suitcase? GRRR! So I called the security forces people just to see if they knew about checking out as well as checking in, and the female there acted like she'd never heard of people signing in with them - "This is security: call reception." Duh! Anyway, finally finally Bob found it. What we were to do, according to the little slip of paper that came with the reciept and the base map, was sign the reciept and leave it on the kitchen counter, go out, lock the door, and push the key in through the mail slot. Okee dokee.
So we drove ALL the way around that town, following signs for the outlet mall. I must say, Bicester Village (the name of the mall) is the best sign-posted attraction we've been to so far. Every turn was clearly marked all the way from the motorway to the parking lot. But the shopping was a bit of a dissapointment. Very crowded, and more people piling in as we left. The setup was fine, just the stores themselves didn't have a lot we were interested in. I did go in a book store, and got a 1GBP bargain book about family-friendly pubs.
We missed a turn going out of town, and ended up back in Brackley for lunch. We didn't want to do the Crown Inn again, the fish bar was still closed, and the diner still expensive. So we were headed out of town when I spotted a Chinese takeaway that was open. Bob expertly manouvered the car in a u-turn, back to the one-way street the takaway was on, and got a space right out front. He and I got Chinese (cashew chicken for him, ginger chicken for me, and rice to share), and the children each got a hamberger - in a bun, not fried (those being the hamburger options). It took a few minutes, but was HOT and fresh, and ours was very good. No compliants about the burgers, so I guess they were good, too. We ate in the car at the main car park area, which has free public toilets. (YEA!! I think the British are catching on about the public toilet idea. We've actually seen at least one in every city we've been to. Dave Barry will have to update his travel guide).
So we made our way toward home, taking back roads where we could find them. Going past St Ives we saw a pretty scene from the highway, so exited and went into town there. Turns out they were having a market (at least as big as Cambridge's) so we walked through there, buying a hat for Riah to play Robin Hood (never mind that it has a picture of Tigger on it; it's green!), and two reflective coats for walking in the dusk this winter. Then we found the river (what we'd seen from the highway) and watched the swans for awhile. Oh, we went in the grocery store there (Waitrose, I think) and bought a box of ice creams to enjoy before going through the market. They were pretty good, but the children got very messy.
After that stop we came on toward home, but seeing that we would pass by Mildenhall, and that it was getting late, we went on base there and had supper at the BX. So it was bedtine when we got home, and we were all glad to be back.