Friday, 23 April 2010

bus, canal, film, dog and kite

 is the blog of novelist Frank Egerton.

Today was the last time I'll be coming into Oxford on the bus without work to do, for quite a while. It was the most beautiful day on which to be just carried along. My gaze was fixed on the spring countryside as we tootled through the lanes to Standlake and Northmoor and Bablock Hythe. The blackthorn was out in the hedges and in the gardens there were all different kinds of cherry blossom and brightly coloured flowers. At one point we went past a pheasant pecking at the drilled corn--his plumage was so painted and he really stood out against the red-grey earth.

At St Edwards school I got off and headed for the canal, which, as shown above, is now greening up, so that the houses disappear and you almost can't believe you're in the town.

At one o'clock, I got a return bus, ate a Sainsbury's sandwich (BLT), drank a bottle of San Pellegrino water and dozed, despite the mid-day gorgeousness outside. I quite liked opening my eyes every now and again and catching drowsy sight of sheep and lambs, a deer by a wood, a moated manor...

Later, during a break from the online course, I went round to the square to catch up on the Downton Abbey filming.

This time I actually saw some of the filming, which was great--just a snippet of a scene but somehow pretty mesmeric as everyone went quiet and the actors wandered towards the church, speaking their, to us, inaudible lines. Then one of them turned back and walked off in her elegant Edwardian tweed suit looking mightily miffed until the director called cut. A dramatic moment, I daresay, in the finished movie.

Unfortunately, though, I couldn't get a shot of this scene, even though I'd deliberately turned the sound off on the camera. But I'd taken Tufty with me and just as the guy in the yellow jacket was telling everyone to be quiet Tufty started whining. Quick as a flash, the guy in the yellow jacket produced a bag of dog biscuits, which he proceeded to give to Tufty, making a big show of lifting his arm away and grimacing as Tufty grabbed them from him. 'Slowly,' the guy whispered as Tufty wolfed another one down and sat up straight expecting yet another. Still, the biscuits--all 10 of them--kept him quiet.

On our way back, near the Manor, we saw a red kite soaring above the new cemetery. Kites started appearing around here about a year ago and have become regular visitors ever since. They don't seem as threatening and as solitary as buzzards. I once saw one happily sharing some carrion with a pair of crows, which I doubt a buzzard would do. The photo I took turned out like a spot-the-kite game (below), so I blew up the bit with the bird in, which isn't much better. For a great kite site, visit

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