Saturday, 6 December 2008

Dear Suzy,
I went back to an area that I’d missed which lies between Botley and the Abingdon Road. South Hinksey is a small village and farming community that can only be accessed by road from the A34 (another section of the ring road). I approached it from the city on a path called the devil’s backbone that goes over a small lake, Hinksey Stream, the railway line and some marsh land. It is a typical Oxfordshire village with beautiful stone cottages. The geographical location makes it feel like an island, and the approach to and from the village was the most interesting part of the experience.

This was followed with a cycle ride around another section of the A4142, from the Cowley Road to the Iffley Road. Starting by the business and retail parks I went past various estates and then went under the ring road into Littlemore to get a sense of how this suburb connects with the city. The monumental road seemed quite incongruous next to the terrace of Victorian houses and some local shops.

I didn't find many objects along this stretch.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Dear Suzy,
I cycled round the stretch of ring road which takes in a bit of the A4074 and a section of the A4142 on a clear and sunny morning. I was on the cycle path with good views of the river and meadows on one side and bright sunshine reflecting off the wet road surface on the other. I have driven down this stretch many times, but a slower pace made me more aware of my surroundings.

I had not previously been aware of how close the Rose Hill estate is to the Ring Road as the backs of houses are partially screened by trees. From back gardens the overgrown ground slopes down to a cycle and footpath and there is another area of grass and scrub before the road. This area is an unofficial dump and it looks as though many people dispose of their rubbish by throwing it over the garden fence. Visually this was fascinating – a fight between nature and damaged consumer products. Wide screen tvs wedged between trees, prams, toys, old fans, a fish tank…

I found a pile of old bed springs as well, and as I couldn’t carry them on my bike I decided to come back for them. Visually they are very interesting as they still have an element of their original structure, but are branching out chaotically. They remind me of maps of the city and the sense in which cities are planned but then seem to take on a life of their own.