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.
by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
Whatever my snotty English teacher said about pronunciation and poetry
this is spoken as addle-strop, not as ay-dell-strop. I know, because I spent many summer afternoons there, under the trees around a shady green lake, fishing ineffectually, and watching the ripples as small flies hopped across the patterned water
It was my grandfather
's favourite fishing spot, just a couple of miles away from the Gloucestershire
village (no, not even a village
, a hamlet
) where he and my grandmother
lived in three knocked together cottage
s of honey-coloured Cotswold Stone
surrounded by one of those gardens you only ever see in watercolour
s. I loved following my grandfather around. I'd perch up on one of the tables in the greenhouse, watching him repot seedling
s with gentle muddy fingers, and tell him stories about the fairies that lived under the primrose
s behind the shed. He was a quiet man. He didn't say much, but he never shooed me away.
And he let me go fishing with him, and for the first time in my life I learned how to enjoy sitting quietly, sitting still, and listening to the world. He showed me how to use a fishing road, how to unhook a hook from a fish
es mouth without causing too much pain and damage. He even taught me how to tie a fly, though my four year old fingers were too clumsy
, and I preferred the pretty coloured spinners instead. I don't think he cared much about catching fish
, but the peace of that lake, with the quiet sounds of fish bobbing to the surface, and blackbird
s singing made a change from being chased out of the kitchen.
I've not been back for years. My sister and I, when in the area for my grandmother's 90th birthday some years ago, drove past the old house, and went looking for the lake. We drove down endless lanes with high borders of Queen Anne's Lace, trying to recognise landmark
s of almost thirty years past. We couldn't find it. Her children, noisily grumpy in the car, poked at each other and whined about this meandering around the countryside. We stopped looking, realising that it was probably better not to go back.
And the station
has been closed for years.