An Extraordinary Journey

by James Hamilton

O n my birthday, Kate and I made an extraordinary journey.

A blackbird was waiting on the fence so we jumped onto its back saying 'anywhere, take us anywhere this lockdownday'.

We flew into the branches of the tulip tree, the second tallest in the county, and blackbird told us to wait while he made a call. He listened carefully, shook his feathers, and off we went.

Accelerating like a jet plane, we touched sixty crossing the garden, and screamed through the branches of the apple tree, touching not a twig.

I held on to him, Kate held on to me, and up we went over the buttercup fields of Kidlington, across the river far below, towards Bletchington and its high Scots pine.

Turning west we followed the railway line and passed over a pigeon on a lower flight path. Pigeon soared as pigeon does; he landed on a wire and cooed.

Green woodpecker drew his wavy line in front of us, laughing. Robin flitted out of our way, sparrow whirred his noisy wings, tit tittered, wren flicked.

My hat flew off, and I can see it now curling down, getting smaller and smaller, farther and farther down to the field near Hampton Gay.

We caught the train. Blackbird flew through its open window, dropped us off in Standard class, and waggled his wings as he left.

Noon came as we rattled over Ribblehead, beat through Box Tunnel, and forged across the Forth.

We saw the Angel of the North, the Old Man of Hoy and the Paps of Fife. We passed shunting yards, cranes' feet and winches. We saw drain rods, hop poles and owl perches. We noticed standing stones, dog pounds and footballs' bounces.

Cantering across the Elysian Fields we passed through Leamington and Banbury, and with the sudden shake in the line found ourselves back in Oxford. Blackbird waiting high in the station rafters flew down picked us up and home we went.

There waiting was my hat, a tulip from the tulip tree, a feather from the Angel of the North, a bus ticket from the Old Man of Hoy, and lace from the Paps of Fife.

SEE ALSO by James Hamilton:
One Last Job
A Year Locked Down in Kidlington
In Praise of Cow Parsley
An Extraordinary Journey
Blossom Fortnight
Pavements and Lids
There's Much Yet to Celebrate

James Hamilton is a resident of the village of Kidlington, Oxfordshire. He is a curator, writer and lecturer, who entered the University of Manchester 1966 to read Mechanical Engineering, and emerged in 1971 with a degree in History of Art. James is also a biographer and has written on Turner, Faraday, Gainsborough, and Constable.

Visit James' website here.

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