Wednesday, 12 January 2011

first day of spring

First day of spring might be a bit of an exaggeration but last Sunday was the first time I'd felt that spring was in the air since the new year began with the Winter Solstice. (No, I'm not a Pagan but taking the solstice as the end of the old year and beginning of the new does seem good sense. Perhaps I am a Pagan.)

The sunlight on Sunday was just that bit richer than it has been and when you were out of the wind there was real warmth in the sun. Even when you were in the wind there was something not so defeating about the cold.

I went for a long cycle ride down towards the Thames, along the Great Brook (into which all the streams in the valley flow before it reaches the Thames at Shifford Lock) and round to Mount Owen (road, telegraph poles and valley, above).

The photo of the trees and water shows an unusual feature that always looks as if it's the remains of an old moat, although there is nothing to suggest it is on the OS map. I did read, though, in the Victoria County History that the Romans settled close to the Thames and not where the present village stands. Somehow moat and Roman settlements got all mixed together in my imagination and were then stirred into the little story about the Leper's Tower towards the end of Invisible. (The leper bit, incidentally came from a tale about Roche Rock in Cornwall, told to me by a family friend when I was a boy.)

The other photo shows a reed bed that the local thatcher grows. Nowadays relatively few houses in Bampton are thatched but many more used to be in previous centuries. Our little terrace replaced a row of thatched tenements, with earth floors and deep roofs that came down to a low stone wall. The rebuilding took place in the 1880s--late compared to many parts of the country. But then Bampton time does seem different to time in the rest of the world.

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