A Year Locked Down in Kidlington

Words and watercolours by James Hamilton


T he real thing is under your feet. We haven't been anywhere much over the past year's lockdown, but who cares, because Kidlington has had brief glimpses of landscape experience that we might otherwise travel hundreds of miles to enjoy. Crisp winds in early spring? Try Kidlington in March 2020. Full moon and clear night skies? Forget romantic southern Spain; try Kidlington in April 2020. For a blaze of yellow in May there is no need to go to the tulip fields of Holland, because the Buttercup Fields of Kidlington in May 2020 gave us all that and more. So this weird round of the months went by, and here, backwards for no good reason except perhaps novelty and the editor's great idea, is the past year as noticed within half a mile of the spire of St Mary's Church.



March 2021
Last year — or perhaps the year before — the farmer put piles of compost just here, by the ditch with the railway sleeper bridge into the meadow. Since then the heaps have been spread, but the greening of the crop is richest where the compost seeped from its piles for months. What looks like a line of little aeroplanes on the horizon is meant to be lengths of wind-blown hedge at the back of the far field. Its regular pattern creates a foil for the lumpy foreground mud.


March 2021


February 2021
Never since the Ice Age, as far as I remember, have Kidlington's fields flooded and then frozen hard and deep enough for people to skate. For a moment we might have been in Norway or Sweden. Ice hockey players emerged, and curlers, and dancers on ice.


February 2021

The 2021 floods were the longest and deepest we have seen in these fields since 2014. But gradually the water soaked away and the paths were open again to walkers. These are the final pools left in the furrow bottoms on Branson's Fields. Pattern in landscape may not be obvious at first glance, but by standing still for a while and looking, patterns and relationships begin to emerge.


February 2021


January 2021
It really was cold. This is as far as I could get into the meadow opposite Hampton Poyle after it had frozen solid. It should flood, it’s a flood plain, and almost every year it is smothered in river silt which feeds its early summer coverings of dandelions, whose yellow carpet magically turns white after a couple of weeks. Then the trumpet sounds, and a heavenly meadowspread of buttercups appears.


January 2021

There were storms ... looking here to St Mary's from the field behind The Moors. The Kidlington landscape is one of the unsung treasures of Oxfordshire — how many other groups of villages in the county can boast in such a tight area a line of five Grade I and II* listed mediaeval churches — Shipston, Kidlington, Hampton Gay, Hampton Poyle, Islip. A ring of low hills — Bletchingdon, Brill, Shotover, Headington, Cumnor, Boar's Hill, Wytham and Woodstock — surround our flood plain.


January 2021


December 2020
A bloody midwinter sunset across Kidlington's fields. The low-lying landscape presents wide rings of horizontals. The diagonal footpath, ploughed up twice a year and remade by walkers, challenges the hedge-line. We may forget how green the fields are even in the deepest days of winter.


December 2020


November 2020
Before sunrise, before colour comes into the day, the landscape seeps into the eye in browns and duns. I tend not to take a sketchbook when I walk, still less sit in the field with an easel. While I may take photographs as reminders, my pictures are painted at home from memory and imagination. The brush takes over almost immediately, and as I have discovered, it's all in the wrist.


November 2020


October 2020
This must be about 8 o'clock in the morning, the sun rising directly at my back. As the sky brightens around it, so the morning moon begins to fade and it will disappear from sight even before it sets. There's beauty in even the dullest landscape: a hedge-line, a path; that's it. A bit of sky perhaps.


October 2020


September 2020
For months after the modest floods of 2020 water settled into a wide boggy patch at the edge of the large field north west of the church. Its amorphous edges made it interestingly shapeless, and even now (April 2021) it is visible in the variation of the crop.


September 2020


August 2020
Everything seemed dreamily 'normal' as lockdown seemed to ease in the summer of 2020, but grey sky suggests there are storms to come.


August 2020


July 2020

July 2020


June 2020

June 2020


May 2020
The buttercup fields. Kidlington's grandest annual show.


May 2020


April 2020
This must have been well past midnight. The sky wasn't quite as blue as this, but the paint in the paintbox was. Don't know why I was up that late. I've forgotten.


April 2020


March 2020
We didn't know what was coming, did we? We should remember.


March 2020




SEE ALSO by James Hamilton:
A Year Locked Down in Kidlington
In Praise of Cow Parsley
An Extraordinary Journey
Nocturne
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, and Gainsborough.

Visit James' website here.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE
KVOICE Publishing ©2021 kvoice.co.uk
Articles submitted by authors for publication on KV remain the intellectual property of each individual author and without their express permission their work may not be taken or copied nor reproduced elsewhere from this website — nor from the printed magazine. Please address matters about ownership or further use of any material published on KV to
copyright@kvoice.co.uk.
Thank you.