Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Hinksey stream

1 March.
This branch of the Thames begins as Wytham stream, turns into Seacourt stream on passing through that lost village, and turns into Hinksey stream between North Hinksey and South Hinksey.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Osney Mill

22 February, morning.

This Victorian red brick building, gutted by fire in 1946, is part of Osney Mill, taken over in 1898 by William Henry Munsey, whose family still owns the site. It is seen here from Osney lock, built in 1790 by the inmates of Oxford prison for the Thames Navigation Commission. At the rear of the mill complex not accessible to the public are the only remains of Osney Abbey - a rubble stone building with queen post roof and stone archway dating from the 15th century. The rest of the abbey lies below Osney cemetery (1848), now disused.

[Early 20th century photograph: source.]

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Thames path, near Kings Lock

21 February.

Sheep graze this grassland on the approach to Kings Lock coming from Godstow bridge under the Oxford ring road. Kings Lock goes back to 1289, then called Kingisweire (kin = cattle), a flash weir trapping eels and fish for the locals. Occasionally one of the odd tree branches that commonly float along the Thames here metamorphoses into a wriggling eel snaking its way across the smooth surface from one bank to the other.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Thames and Port Meadow

14 February. The snow now some days thawed away, the Thames swelled out over its banks. Colours reappear, cleansed by the snow of some days past.

The floodwater on Port Meadow perfectly still is one large mirror of the sky, in which birds fly upside down and the inverted horizon moves with a different pace to its limit. Held on the surface float occasional disturbers of the illusion such as a discarded feather.

On Port Meadow were dotted about the remains of snowmen. These caused some perplexity amongst the various dogs being taken for a walk, in particular to a small poodle, perhaps feeling a natural affinity on account of the colour of its coat, but whose overtures were rebuffed coldly.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Fiddler's Island and the Thames

6 February.

The Thames divides at Medley Weir Bridge, with Castle Mill Stream meandering off to the left, rejoining the Thames after it has enclosed Osney Island.

(Map by Fred Thacker, 1920. See also Chapter II of his book The Stripling Thames (1909), covering Medley and Binsey
- Four Rivers, Medley Weir Site, Medley Footbridge, The Perch, Port Meadow.)

Burgess Field

6 February.

Burgess Field is a nature park on the eastern side of Port Meadow, which, together with the adjacent Trap Ground allotments, was formerly a landfill site. The many soil types used to cap the tip feeds a large variety of wild flowers and plants. Copses and hedges have been planted over the last twenty years. Long grass shelters mice and voles, bringing kestrels and owls. A group of roe deer also inhabit the 85 acre site. Last week in the spring sunshine there was a wide range of greens amongst the vegetation; the extended utterance of a skylark would start up now and again from an invisible source. In February all I saw was the odd crow perched still atop a bare tree, around them the air silent, things partially concealed, lines in browns and greys on white.