Tonight I invite you to walk with me down one of my favorite pavements in Oxford, North Hinskey Lane.
At first North Hinskey Lane does not look too promising, especially on a damp gray day as today. As we begin our stroll there is a McDonald's on our left and some power lines on the right, but almost immediately that is behind us and the first little cottage, "Frog Cottage", appears on the left. It is gated and grassy; a stream lulls behind it. Next comes the "Old Manor House". This house is large and made from brick, stucco, and stone. It is a combination of Tudor, Gothic, and Victorian construction. It is also gated, and the back of the house faces the road. Its grandeur can only be imagined from its illusive broad side. Before we come upon Westminster hamlet the North Hinskey Nature Reserve appears. It is on a hillside containing benches and paths to explore. Perhaps we will traverse those paths on a brighter day. Coming upon Westminster we first hear children playing in the school yard of the village school. The laughter bounces off the stone bridge across from the school. The bridge marks an entrance to the expansive St. George Park. We will come back to the bridge later, literally.
Just across from the bridge is a large manor hidden by a half brick wall and tall shrubbery. The sign reads "Old School". Is it a school, or a residence? Just around the bend from the "Old School" lies a very old looking church. A small graveyard sits in front of the church. Some of the headstones read 1835 and later; the rest are illegible. Across from the church sits the "Cottage Farm". Its bright red door matches the red letter box built into the stone fence surrounding the home. Next comes "Ferry Cottage". It is perhaps my favorite structure on the entire road. The stone is just a bit darker and a trimmed climbing vine outlines the doors and windows. As the name implies, a stream flows through the back yard of "Ferry Cottage".
Just beyond "Ferry Cottage" sits "The Fishes". It is a traditional public house, but it seems slightly swankier. A board outside the venue invites us in to "enjoy a warm Sunday roast". Opposite "The Fishes" is the "Ruskin Cottage". It is a very historic cottage, and marks the start of a small gathering of old cottages. These cottages are stone and still have thatched roofs made of straw. The "Ruskin Cottage" seems very inviting with soft green trim. One of the other little cottages seems more like a green house; hanging baskets adorn the front and plants fill the sills of the windows. The yard is a gated unruly mass of plants and two actual green houses. Next we come upon "Brook House", a regal estate, immediately followed by "Sunny Brook". The bright red holly and yellow Cyprus plants that adorn "Sunny Brook" liven the journey. On this bleak day it is a welcome splash of color. In the distance we can see the road coming to an end at the Oxford R.F.C. also known as The Oxford Rugby Complex. Here we turn around.
We return to the stone bridge across from the "Old School". Crossing the bridge we enter St. George's Park. It's so wet that the path through the fields and tufts of trees is surrounded by water. The land is completely saturated and flooded. We pass an old man walking his dog and a young girl running. We come to another bridge, a more modern bridge. Following the new bridge we encounter an extended family of squirrels. They are feverishly searching for nuts which are now most likely hopelessly submerged. Finally we come to the end of the wooded aisle. We are deposited onto a main thoroughfare in an industrial area. We turn onto a small paved path returning us to St. George's Park. Before we know it we're back at my flat, glad to feel the warmth of the interior after the damp jaunt.
I hope you enjoyed North Hinskey Lane as much as I do. I'll try and take some pictures next time I'm down that way, but for know this literary picture will have to do.