In a bid to say farewell to some of the places I’ve habitually cycled through, on Friday I took a roundabout route to Leafield, a quiet, hilltop village. It was all I could do to get out of my funk, as exchange still hadn’t happened, and I needed to get rid of the desire to smash crockery and punch walls.
The cycle ride was relaxing, through the low-slanted sunlight of an approaching September evening, and I even bumped into an old colleague as I plodded my way towards my goal. When I finally reached the village, the world held its breath and it was like a scene from the poem Adlestrop:
… for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
yet another village to which I will likely not cycle again.
In the quiet suspense of the top of the hill, I wandered around Leafield’s churchyard properly for the first time. I circled the warmly grey-coloured church walls, spotting different flowers on different graves, and wondering what it meant to leave a tender begonia in memoriam, given the somewhat autumnal weather. It felt like there was something crouched, incipient, in the calm and the restfulness; given the stress of the past few days, it was the onset of either religiosity or a nervous breakdown on my part, perhaps.
As I went to re-mount my bicycle, swinging my right leg high to clear the saddle, I caught my thigh in my shorts material and mis-aimed. My knee cracked ringingly against the pannier rack, lifting the kneecap slightly; as I screwed my eyes up I swear I could see stars.