I had spent three days in the unexpectedly lonely and secluded open countryside walking the Ridgeway National Trail when I finally arrived at Goring and Streatley. Perhaps it was good that after such seclusion I was not jolted straight back into 21st Century industrial estates, shopping malls and housing estates. Maybe it was a physical effect from all the walking I had done but for me Goring and Streatley was rather like a dream.
Back to the 1950s I go
There is a 1950s film “John and Julie” (see clip here) which I watched as a child and now own on DVD and wandering around these two conjoined towns felt to me like I had woken up back in the time of that film in some ways. The accents of the locals I met seemed to be that sharply clipped received old BBC English. I stopped for a cup of tea at the Boathouse at the Swan at Streatley, which overlooks the Thames in a small courtyard garden full of blue flowering rosemary and watched the bees drunkenly feeding whilst I let my tired body return to a state of rest. After my restorative brew I had a wander around. I found a quirky antique/charity type shop and spent quite a while just leisurely musing on the eclectic assortment of things humans collect and why we do it. I spied at least three old Morris Minor cars (testament maybe to the nearby Nuffield Place – home of the late philanthropist and designer Lord Morris). I even spotted several ladies in old-style wide-skirted pinafore dresses carrying wicker baskets, containing flowers. After my seclusion it was a good way to be re-introduced to human contact. I think I would have struggled had I arrived into a modern industrial town. There were boats on the river to watch and when I left to resume Day 4 of walking the Ridgeway the next morning, I passed two men wearing old-fashioned hats with rolled-up copies of the Daily Telegraph under their arm (and just like in old memories the sun shone!)………….. maybe I was SO tired, this was all just a mirage. But I think not!
Buying provisions on the Ridgeway
One word to fellow walkers looking to buy provisions from shops on the Ridgeway trail – despite a long search I could not buy a bar of soap! Unfortunately I had left mine behind at the Court Hill Centre and the Youth Hostel did not have any. The one small Mace in the towns was not well-stocked; there was a very posh expensive pharmacy full of toiletries with names I had only read about in magazines at the hairdressers and they didn’t stock “normal” soap either! I really had to wait until reaching Watlington on Day 4 to stock up with extra food or provisions for walking the Ridgeway Trail.
Was it all a dream?
Despite the “soap” episode……………. I absolutely adored Goring and Streatley. Maybe it was all a dream, but if it was I would like to completely misquote a line from “Brief Encounter”…….. “If it was a dream it certainly WAS a very happy one” (sic)
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