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.