Scenes from a Bank Holiday week-end

by Stephen Tall on April 10, 2007

Very traditional, very British… Sunday afternoon was spent picnicking in Christ Church meadow (albeit eating tortilla and jamon, which is perhaps a little more recherché).

Half a century ago, this idyllic setting was the subject of a bitter planning wrangle, following the proposal by Thomas Sharp, in his 1948 report, Oxford Replanned, that an ‘inner relief road’ be built across the meadow.

The debate raged for a full two decades, before being finally squashed by, inter alia, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, Dick Crossman, who was my predecessor (by several generations) as a councillor for Headington ward on the City Council.

Part of the fun is reclining by the meadow, and watching the tourists who’ve hired their punts at Magdalen Bridge struggle to control their craft.

Some take to it, like… erm… ducks to water. Others thrash and flail, slaloming from one side of the Cherwell bank to the other – pure sporting schadenfreude.

Such pleasures – together with the gleaming, dreaming spires – even allow you to forget the downsides of picnics: bugs, needing the toilet, and the fact that bright April sunshine isn’t all that warm.