Thursday, 3 July 2008


I spend a lot of time driving Katie to and from the Midlands, where she spends the time that she doesn't spend with me. Inevitably, sometimes we get held up by incidents on the motorway. On Monday we were delayed a short way out of Bristol by a Landrover Discovery which had inconsiderately burst into flames. And then I heard on the radio that there was static traffic ahead from Worcester all the way to Tewkesbury, so we left the motorway at Gloucester and drove across the Cotswolds. We passed through Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, which are all nice sounding counties in my book. We got slightly lost a couple of times. We passed the Rollrights, but didn't see the stones. And we passed Adlestrop, but didn't stop to admire the old railway sign in the bus shelter. Not this time.

We got there late, but then we may have got there even later if we'd stayed on the motorway. And it was a lovely drive.

Poetry of place: Here's Edward Thomas, when he was at Adlestrop. It was late June for us too; the following day, July 1st, was the anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme.

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.