diamond geezer

 Thursday, March 08, 2012

Monday lunchtime: Port Meadow
Most tourists who visit Oxford only ever explore the centre of town. To be honest there's more than enough to see there, be that the colleges, the museums or the general loveliness of historic limestone. But turn right on leaving the station and you soon come to the River Thames, or Isis as they call it round here, which can swiftly whisk you to a completely different rural landscape. The path first follows shady Fiddlers Island, then opens out onto the broad expanse of Port Meadow. This is ancient grazing land, never ploughed, and stretches for 440 acres along the flood plain of the river. It's very green, and very flat, and at this time of year very squelchy. I stuck to the west bank of the river on the way up, past barely budding trees, the occasional hound-walker and Godstow's ruined nunnery. There are two famous pubs up here - The Perch and The Trout - frequented by weekend walkers and fictional ITV detectives. The Perch, alas, doesn't open on a Monday, while the Trout's mostly-elderly diners were huddled inside leaving the waterside terrace empty. At Wolvercote I turned to head back across the meadow proper towards Oxford's distant spires. I appeared to have the entire northern half to myself, bar a herd of grazing horses and some unnervingly large pools of accumulated rainwater. I thought I could walk around those, until I reached a single footbridge flooded on the far side which entirely blocked my progress and I had to retreat. Instead I followed the Oxford Canal back into town - less mud, more joggers, nobody boating - past umpteen coupled ducks in the full flush of spring courtship. All lovely enough but, twenty-five years on, I've still not learned to time my returns to Oxford for decent weather.
I left with: a lot of mud on my boots
A photo for you: Oxford High Street, bursting with premature blossom

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