Saturday, 28 July 2012

walk, binsey, taylor, hollybush












































Beautiful morning--fresh to begin with, getting hotter, but not too humid, as the sun climbed higher.
 
Caught 18 bus at seven because I was due at the Taylor. The bus gets to Oxford way before the library opens so I had a great walk. Oxford canal towpath to Aristotle Lane then out onto to Port Meadow and along Fisherman's Walk. Crossed the Thames at Bossoms Boatyard and headed for Binsey. The lane from the hamlet feels more like the country than the lanes round Bampton. It's a delight and leads to the ancient church and its 'treacle' well. We were married at Binsey.
 
Loved the sight of Wytham Hill from Port Meadow (above) and the chicory plants lining the river bank by the boatyard. You used to only see chicory near the ring-road roundabout at Botley. I'm pleased that it's spreading. Come to think of it, the roundabout isn't that far from Binsey. (The sound of the ring road in the churchyard is what gives the game away that you're not in the countryside.)
 
So many walks along these interlinked paths years ago. Lovely to see the old places.
 
The sky seen through the vast windows in the Taylor Main Reading Room has been moody at times and at one point looked like rain.
 
Taking a quick break now before the final hour. Then it's off to Witney and a late lunch at the Hollybush.
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Sunday, 22 July 2012

exeter, weeds, three courgettes, al fresco late breakfast, s1
















Had a great evening at Exeter College--tutors' meeting then reception in Fellows' Garden and excellent dinner in hall.

Managed to get to allotment earlier, though the clay soil was still sticky. Weeds were mental, as expected. Veg that's there (and a lot of things didn't get sown this year) is doing well, even so. Weeded the courgettes and cucumbers which were the number one priority. Brought back three Italian courgettes. First fruits.

Late breakfast on terrace--haven't done that for months.

Now heading home on S1.
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Saturday, 21 July 2012

borders, granddad, keble gaudy, 99 runs in 30 overs to beat...

Walk to cricket pitch at Worcester College took me past the magnificent borders and tranquil lake.

My step-granddad was at Worcester and I always envied him his undergraduate days there in the Twenties. (Keble in the Eighties, was pretty good, of course--looking forward to the Gaudy on the 15th September, which I've just booked.)

It was lovely to see old friends and to watch some of the cricket. I left after tea when the old boys' team had 99 runs in 30 overs to beat. That's a doddle (though not if the team had been made up of players like me--which, fortunately, it isn't.)

The pitch was heavy towards the boundary but the crease was good, apparently. It had been touch and go whether the match would take place all week but the groundsmen OK'd on Thursday in view of the weather forecast--which has turned out to be right.
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summer...?, cricket at worcester, yaffling, dinner at exeter, developing as a creative writer, new journey

















Great that summer seems to be here at last.

Off to see some cricket at Worcester College later this afternoon. Some friends have been coming back to play the dons' team each year for two decades. For a couple of years when we lived on Osney I ended up playing too (a sort of honorary Worcester alumnus)--though I can't claim to have been an asset at all. I liked the beer and listening to the green woodpecker yaffling in the trees by the canal, though. Worcester is, I believe I'm right in saying, the only Oxford college with a sports ground within its walls. A wonderful place!

Had a busy week--when aren't weeks busy? But it's nice to have some space this weekend.

Tomorrow evening, I'll be dining in hall at Exeter College, as it's the start of the creative writing summer school. I'm teaching a course entitled, Developing as a Creative Writer, which I'm really looking forward to. The dinner will be preceded by drinks in the Fellows' Garden, where I'll meet the students for the first time.

Photo above seems appropriate to the way I feel these days, somehow. Maybe it's the after effects of the family upsets--whatever the cause, I often feel like I'm embarking on a new journey now.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

sandwiches in the parks

















The Parks, Oxford, earlier this afternoon: saw this squirrel tucking in (to crumbs...) when I was walking between the Social Science and Latin American Centre libraries.
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Monday, 16 July 2012

heron, lock, signs of the times

















When I'm walking to work, I often see this heron. He fishes in the channel that runs between the Oxford canal and the Thames near the last lock (the one that appears on the Kindle cover for The Lock). He's usually a little way off but this morning was only yards from the tow-path--still taking hardly any notice of passers by, though.

Meanwhile, overnight, the village has moved several hundred miles north, there's a new vicar and a neighbour's started selling postcards. By 'eck, this summer's an odd 'un.




Sunday, 15 July 2012

fresher air, sun!, black bourton green, more comments


















Garden again damp to start with this morning. But when I went cycling the air was noticeably fresher and now the sun is out--a lovely soft summer light.

Pic above shows horse chestnut, swing, bench and bridge on Black Bourton Green.

Writing up more assignment comments today.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

drenched, autumnal, corsewall point, omg, newton faulkner, comments





More downpours overnight. Just walking up the garden path to fetch the bike left me drenched from brushing past the shrubs. When I set off on my cycle, the rain seemed to have stopped but it couldn't resist having another go when I was about a third the way round the circular route.

The countryside had an autumnal feel. There was a good patch of scabious in Alvescot (a plant I always associate with the cliffs above the Corsewall Point on the Mull of Galloway in September--an arbitrary association, I realise!). [OMG I've just discovered that the old lighthouse is now a hotel!] The blackberry bushes are budding, with the promise of a good autumn crop. In Kencot, some hedge trees had been felled--though they will doubtless grow back.

There isn't much natural light entering the house this morning. On the radio it said that people are becoming depressed by the summer weather. I'm not surprised. Decided to download Newton Faulkner's Write It On Your Skin to cheer myself up--OK, some contradiction here, you might be saying, but he has a GREAT voice.

Now to typing up assignment comments for the rest of the working day.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

compasses lower chicksgrove, perspective, streetbooks


It's been good to have time off and space to think. Wiltshire--around Lower Chicksgrove--as relaxing as ever. Especially liked taking Tufty for his night-time walk after supper at the Compasses. The pub's in the middle of nowhere and the village and countryside are so still by then. (Room shutters shown above.)

Lots of things in better perspective after holiday. Feeling much fresher--even though we were away for only three days--and now looking forward to work again, including, with luck, the preparation of StreetBooks' first publication not written by me.
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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

wilts, rest, howard's house, beckford arms, phoenix, poppies

Taking a break in Wiltshire. Great to get away and do some walking -- as well as get some much needed rest!

Wet yesterday although sun shone today -- as pic of terrace at the excellent Howard's House Hotel shows (terrific range of unusual pudding wines at HHH btw -- www.howardshousehotel.co.uk).

Saw this field of agricultural poppies yesterday en route for lunch at the Beckford Arms -- now reopened after a fire and as good as ever (liked the locally-brewed Beckford Phoenix bitter -- www.beckfordarms.com). Wondered about these poppies -- maybe being grown for morphine (macsmith.com/index.php?page=uk-poppies)? Intriguing to see, anyway.
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Monday, 9 July 2012

common aeshna, walking, reflecting

Took this pic of a Common Aeshna dragonfly on our neighbour's ceanothus. Haven't seen one of these for a while--one settled on our shed two or three years ago. Our neighbour wondered if the insect came from our pond. Could have done.

Meanwhile, pleased to be having some time off. Doing lots of walking and reflecting on what happened to the family over the last couple of years. Amazing to think that it's been over two years since the latest nightmare kicked off.
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Friday, 6 July 2012

saturated, bistro, essay, shock, swan

Really heavy rain earlier. Lighter now but everything in Oxford is saturated. Miserable.

The last couple of bright days were bliss. Sitting with a friend on Wednesday evening, drinking wine at a bistro, doors open to the pavement, seems a world away.

We talked about screenwriting for a while then turned to that essay I wrote at Easter. I was shocked by how shocked she was at what I had written. Perhaps I am still numb from the horror of what happened over the past two decades. Though I am sure that I am happier than I was. It was good to talk--just as it had been good to write down the events. Part of the strange mixing by which I (and writers generally?) make sense of things. But I still find it hard to understand how the people involved did what they did.

Meanwhile, on the Oxford canal this morning, even the swan looked pissed off with the weather.
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Sunday, 1 July 2012

lie in, brandy bottle lilies, weeding, bell



Enjoyed having a lie in this morning. The last few weeks have been a bit mad--both at work and socially.

Nice to switch off and enjoy being at home.

Stopped to photograph this part of the Great Brook near Tadpole Bridge when cycling earlier. Love brandy bottle lilies!

About to try and do some weeding on the allotment now, though it'll still be wet. Pub later--probably the Bell and Standlake.