Thursday, 9 October 2008

Autumn III

Idyllic is the word that comes to mind to describe my brief experience yesterday afternoon. I found myself driving across the Oxfordshire countryside in the slanting sun, through the winding lanes west of Worminghall, with the infant slumbering peacefully in the back seat. As I reached Islip and headed out towards Bletchingdon and Long Hanborough*, the BBC began to play Butterworth's "By Banks of Green Willow". And on cue, I passed a willow tree.

By the time I reached the borders of Gloucestershire, the fields were hazy with dust and mist, the sun was westering, and if you could have distilled the air, it would have tasted of honey spread on fresh-baked crusty bread.

* The village elders seem to have decided that the signs on the main roads should bear the name "Bletchington", and the lorries from the local stone quarry have the same spelling. But I prefer "Bletchingdon", as the older road-signs have it. Aside from the proximity of Abingdon, it feels more distinctive and interesting. There is a similar variance at Long Hanborough, where the railway station is called "Handborough", I know not why.

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