“A country (water)road. A tree. Evening” (with apologies to Samuel Beckett for appropriating his magnificently minimal stage directions from Waiting for Godot)
On a rain-lashed mid-week evening, after a day’s painting in the Long Cabin of ‘Eileen’, I felt up for a walk. The lousy weather didn’t matter a jot as I headed out in search of beauty.
I hoped the walk might provide clues to my support my understanding of the ‘riddle of the Oxford’, that is the correspondences and disconnects that exist between it’s ‘chocolate box cum picture postcard’ image and the apparent mundanity of it being ‘an industrial-age relic’ which both, at one and the same time, define/contradict the character of the canal.
The path I chose led away from a streaming and noisy main road, across an industrial estate and into woodland. I followed it.
I don’t know a lot about the stream, or the area, in fact in terms of this walk, I think that was a bonus, as it freed me to look, to listen, to imagine, and to enjoy.
There’s something oddly comforting being outdoors, all rugged up on a mizzly May late afternoon. I found myself really enjoying this bruised and rather tatty corner of Banbury. In just a mile or so of walking it felt possible to capture not only something of the elusive character of both the Oxford Canal and the areas industrial archeology, but also sense the underlying present-day tensions caused by the expansion and ‘encroaching dynamism’ of the town of Banbury spreading ever further into and across the waterlogged meadows of the Cherwell valley.
Ironstone railway. Coke can. Birdsong. The rush and whisper of vehicles along drenched roads.
Here’s the picture story of the walk. It probably makes most sense if you ‘read’ from the bottom image to the top… that is following the direction of my walk and going against the flow of the water.