On Friday I dusted off my second best cat suit and headed to the big metropolis to meet Dorchester Doris. As a couple of glasses are sweet sherry were due to be consumed, I sensibly caught the train, a quaint branch line with things like “request stops” and “no toilets”. I was not only looking forward to seeing my old friend again, but also to the hour of enforced stillness that the journey would involve. Until I discovered that I had forgotten my glasses. This meant that I couldn’t read or write or even play patience on my phone except by pulling my face into startling contortions. Not only did this method frighten the children, it really hurt my fizzog. So instead I looked out the window. This is what I saw:
A flock of sheep chase after a man on a quad bike*. A meadow dotted with indiscernible yellow flowers, were they cowslips? A shattered aged oak, the sight of which made me wince. Clear rivers and ponds thick with weed, geese, old orchards and new plantations. Tree houses, wide fields in fertile river valleys. Back gardens and washing lines. Furious drivers at level crossings. Bluebells, primroses and clumps of flowering reed. Leats and water channels dividing rough pasture. Trees both statuesque and scrubby. Misunderstood crows. Fences in retaining wood and excluding metal. Grassy banks, hedges and dry stone walls. Red soil, white May blossom. Swings and ladders and more primroses. Silver birches dappled with moss. Wood pigeons feasting in a freshly sown field, just showing a hint of green. Gorse and goat willow. Pesky ponticum and unruly box draped with old man’s beard. Pastoral perfection as lambs cavorted in a wooded riverside glade. Countryside catastrophe with fly tipped plastic barrels, carrier bags waving in innocent branches and abandoned rusting cars dumped behind hedges. Brambles beginning their march and solid holly. Red campion, flag iris and bird cherry blossom. Hedges laid by man or storm. Deep cut streams with ruddy banks, dens in the wood, sticky weed, dog walkers and still more primroses.
As I sat I contemplated what I saw. Who lives in the house on the station? How old is the tree that supports an arboreal mansion? Does that lady have seven dogs or is she borrowing some? What do sheep think of cows? I may have forgotten my glasses, but I hope you will agree that I saw an awful lot more without them.
* I deduced these were probably the famously carnivorous local breed, the Long Toothed Devon’s.