‘X’ Marks the Spot

27 Apr

‘Are you looking for treasure?’ I asked a man who had been standing on a wooden footbridge over the River Cherwell for some time. He held a walking map in plain view.

‘No,’ he said – soft Kiwi accent, grey beard, the same discreet hearing aid as my father. ‘But I’ll show you treasure. Look at that.’ He pointed to a wide, shallow stump that must once have been a magnificent chestnut – others shaded the river bank. Only that resilient old stump wasn’t just a stump at all: it was covered in dozens of leafy new shoots.

‘That’s treasure,’ he said.

The Cherwell Boathouse is a very nice place to eat.

So is The Old Parsonage, where you might, just might, one day spot John Simpson enjoying a drink at the end of the day.

If you wander along the meadows and river banks here, now, you’ll see snakeshead fritillaries in their prime, narcissus just over, dead nettle beginning, willow catkins, perhaps a heron gulping down a fish, punts inexpertly punted.

And, thinking of Xs, it is Freedom Day in South Africa today.

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