The Icknield Way, An Appreciation....
The next day I said farewell to the Other Man at Ickleford Church. He wheeled away with a smile and a wave, heading for Royston. “Say Hello to Freddy!” I called after him. It was almost the only place on the journey where my photographs seemed to show things had not changed out of all recognition in ninety years. But turn around, set your back to the churchyard and there in front of you is a brick row of shops, cars parking to buy cigarettes, dead vegetables on green plastic turf and behind that an estate. I went looking for the ford and found where it had been.
The Ford at Ickleford
The weather was not kind to me for the next day or so. I had copies of A L Collins' illustrations for The Icknield Way with me and I tried to do him justice with photographs. I think his England of 1911 is an unquiet, unsettled place. No matter how lovely he made things seem, I felt safer if not happier with my friends the trucks and the motor parts vans and the sneering salesmen in coupés. I wonder how much or how little he was paid.
Watlington Town Hall
The Portway, Wantage
It was a real summer’s day when I left Wantage. The cloud army was ranging itself evenly, magnificently from Somerset to Berkshire. The road from Streatley was too much up and down, too busy, too much imposed upon by Didcot’s six giant towers to claim an identity of its own. The flowers along its verges kept up a mocking swaying dance. Their immortality felt like an aggravation, the brashness of the poppies above all, so papery but so bright.