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Thames Head and Adlestrop, 29 December 2011

Using the required holiday between Christmas and New Year to give the bike an airing, I ticked another couple of destinations off the 'must-go-there-some-time' list; source of the Thames (or one of them, at least) and Adlestrop, both requiring a pleasant amble around the Cotswolds.

The poem inspired by an unscheduled stop at Adlestrop railway station kinda captures that odd sense of hiatus you sometimes get; little moments out of time when the world seems to stand still for no particular reason, allowing one to be for a short while as a break from the do of the everyday.

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. 
 


Note to self: don't bother putting any more 'source of the ...' destinations on the 'must-go-there' list. They are invariably anticlimactic. The feint trough in this Cotswolds meadow is, according to some, where the Thames starts. There's an inscribed stone marking the 'exact' spot.


A much more satisfying - and apt - spot for a pause on a ride out on a sunny Winter afternoon is this bus shelter in Adlestrop. The sign is from the station that was once nearby and was immortalised by Edward Thomas.