Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm
Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns
The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames?
The signal-elm, that looks on Isley Downs
The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful Thames? -
This winter-eve is warm
Humid the air! leafless yet soft as spring,
The tender purple spray on copse and briers!
And that city sweet with her dreaming spires
She needs not June for beauty's heightening.
(taken from the poem Thyrsis by Mathew Arnold 1822-1888)
Yesterday I boarded an empty bus that took me to Oxford - probably my favourite city. When I lived in London I could take a bus there from Marble Arch so it became a bolt hole from the ever crowded, teeming metropolis. Now I live in Swindon, a still busy but smaller town along the M4 corridor, Oxford is my escape from the ordinary. An atmosphere of learning pervades the beautiful architecture of the city's centre along with a sense that life is an adventure after all. A walk along the Thames towpath to Iffley Lock on a Sunday afternoon was to observe the rarefied world of Oxford's students as rowing boat after rowing boat passed on river with their coaches calling instructions from cycles as they also passed along the towpath - at a more ponderous pace.