Tuesday 15 April 2008

A beautiful (eclectic) train journey

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15/04/2008 [13:04] I took a beautiful train journey in stunning spring sunshine from Swindon to Cheltenham, today. I passed a long village that clung to a mild ravine where villagers waved at my passing train and children played without adults in open play areas. (They were probably hiding behind trees and conspiring in my fantasy). The next stop was Stroud and I think the village I passed was Briscombe (at least that was a name I gleaned from a pub sign). [19:18 - Googlemapped it on my return journey: it's Brimscombe].

The sight of south-westerly facing cottages all hewn from Cotswold stone and reflecting this magnificent light took my breath away. My spreadsheeted schedule for an up and coming video shoot in Cheltenham could distract me no longer.

The city versus country debate, which I often joke about with my friends, came to mind. Country folk still to this day complain about the speed and general hustle and bustle of London and we City folk say we would die of boredom in the country. There is certainly posturing on both sides. Very few people want self-enforced isolation and vice-versa, none of us enjoy feeling cramped and caged in.

I love both but play the partisan city dweller with some conviction. I grew up in the country and left home when I was 19 to see what England's city could offer me. There was no plan but Nottingham, Brighton (still a town when I lived there), Manchester and finally London have not put me off.

For now the countryside is a visit, an adventure playground, a brief visit to my past and a magical place.

Back to that spreadsheet...

[19:27] I arrived in a sun-drenched Cheltenham and left in a puddle (but not right up to my muddle. That was Gloucester wasn't it?). However, in between a productive recce and a meeting at HQ, I was informed of the full impact of last year's floods. Workers had to work from home whilst electrical went down whilst noisy, smelly diesel generators made life miserable for the colleagues who had to stay with the ship (probably the IT support desk).

The journey home from Cheltenham was in some ways even more evocative than my trip up. The train's tannoy system was on the blink and the ticket collector's mild-to-thick sub-continental announcements were greeted with hoots of laughter from the kids in the carriage. We adults didn't join in for fear of misinterpretation (all right I chuckled). "The train will shortly be stopping at FARToud..." (read Stroud).

The waving adults and playing children were now all inside and my new favourite ravine (might be just a valley) offered a different side. The valley floor had a steam - I apologise now if you are a small river - that cut a path between small collections of still water that might be ponds but felt slightly less manicured than your usual village pond. The moist, still evening just hung in the air. I was being asked to go and explore but 60 MPH of steel and glass weren't going let that happen. I hopelessly snapped with my superlowres BlackBerry camera. Gave that up.

[20:12] The light has gone. I am not on a plane where I could turn my reading light off. The efficient fluorescents stop me from looking into the dark density of the countryside. But the Brimscombe enticement is behind me and the moment has passed.

Back to the Goldberg Variations...

[20:35] It's raining in London. Where's my umbrella? Back on the bench at Cheltenham Spa railway station - that's where! 3 umbrellas down in 2008. That'll be 9 by December at this rate. Would it be too much to ask for umbrella manufacturers to make me and unbreakable and lossless umbrella.

------------------ {This simple dotted line is "proof" of blog-posting from a BlackBerry}


Hilary D said...

See....found time. It's irresistible.

I read Phiip Larkin's Whitsun Weddings straight after your journey. They compare!

Hilary D said...

That's Philip by the way......