Thursday, May 25, 2023

through the gate, beneath the pylon, escape, kellogg college creative writing competition - loved every minute, blue plaque for iris murdoch!

There is a little path, off to the left as I walk in to work, these days, which takes me through a metal gate, beneath a huge electricity pylon, into a field of buttercups.

I turn right and I'm only in the field for five minutes - if that - before I leave and pick up the cycle track to Osney Island.

But those few minutes, so unpromising, passing under the pylon, are an escape - a refreshment that sets the day right.


A week ago, I attended the Kellogg College Creative Writing competition: the readings, the announcement of the winner and runners up, and the guest night dinner. Wonderful evening! And it was a great honour to be one of the judges and to introduce the readings. Loved every minute!


Updated, Sat 27 May

So excited to read about the unveiling of the blue plaque for Iris Murdoch, which took place at 30 Charlbury Road yesterday! Part of a double celebration, with a plaque for Philippa Foot being unveiled later in the day, at 15 Walton Street!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

allium posy, dearest friends, allotmenting, strategic year, uncertain hope of apples, busy trinity weeks, kellogg college creative writing competition!


J's posy for the bedside table of dearest friends staying with us last Friday. Allium flowers and leaves from a plant whose name I couldn't pronounce, let alone remember.

Have at least been able to make some modest progress on the allotment this weekend. Cutting giant leaves of grass and digging, in preparation for construction of raised beds in the summer. A strategic year, this one, with not much grown, although J has planted out broad beans and I have been harvesting asparagus.

Apple blossom was abundant a few weeks ago but there were keen frosts and we live in uncertain hope of some fruits. It's so difficult to tell what the damage was at this stage.

Middle weeks of Trinity term, which mean loads of work.

Looking forward to Thursday's guest night dinner at Kellogg and the announcement of the winner and runners up in the college creative writing competition!

Sunday, May 7, 2023

coronation in west oxfordshire!

Don't have a telly, so missed the real thing. But who needed that when we had this in the village!

Don't know who did it but was amazing!

Saturday, April 15, 2023

waterlogged, swans swimming or paddling, egret, waterfall, patchy

Waterlogged fields in the Thames valley, what with the heavy rains.

The swans on the oil seed rape crop were seen when I was cycling down a side road from Aston towards Yelford. Something of a lake - with 20 or more of the big birds swimming or paddling.

The egret I snapped yesterday, when taking our dog for a long walk - at that point we were three-quarters the way down Hayway Lane.

A few minutes earlier we were alongside one of the few fields of winter oilseed rape (it's a popular crop this year) that had remained fairly dry. The sound of gentle rain on the tall, in-flower and fleshy-leaved plants was like a distant waterfall.

On the way back we came across the farm manager beside the same field and he said, 'The crops should be looking like that one.' Then he pointed at the other fields which were patchy, with huge saturated-earth gaps and few of the stunted plants flowering.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

lunchtime osney walks, changes, still recognisable, memories, ... pretty much


I occasionally take a lunchtime walk to Osney Island via the Oxford canal and Thames path. Reminding myself of where we lived for 14 years.

In some ways it has changed - terraced cottages done up to a higher spec, two houses knocked into one. Here and there, architectural new-builds - traditional outlines, bold panels of glass, metal and wood. There is a feeling of greater prosperity, a different demographic. The infrastructure of the waterways that make it an island - sluices, the hydroelectric project at the lock (that never used to be there!) - are brightly engineered. Their predecessors were simpler, and speckled with rust.

It is great to see both pubs now thriving.

I will always miss Woodward's bakery, which was redeveloped as houses well before we left. We used to live just up from it and loved the smell of the bread.

But in spite of the changes, there is easily enough to remind me of how things were and for memories to overlay. Friendships, chats in pubs, parties, voices, light through the willow branches or fleeting on the water, the people we said hello to but never got to know.

One time recently, someone was heading up the main street and I thought, I know that walk, even after twenty-two years.

A big change is the demolition of most of the old electric lighting station on the opposite bank of the river - only the facades remaining. In time this will be student accommodation.

I remember rowing our boat - bought, opportunly, shortly before we decided to leave and used only once - past the station. 'Past' taking a long while, as we went round and round!

Another time we were sitting at one of the benches by the Waterman's Arms, and there was a splashing commotion in front of the station and a young signet was pulled sharply underwater - by a huge pike, presumably.

Life wasn't always idyllic on Osney - but pretty much.