Today was the hottest day of the year. I left the sweltering metropolis on the 6.33 out of Paddington. In Reading the parks were yellow and scuffed. The Kennet’s water meadows ran a startling green colour. After Hungerford the railway line follows the canal, which was cobalt-coloured and undisturbed by a breeze of any kind. All the time the sun reigned ahead of us, still white hot, and the air was full of dust.
We arrived in the Vale of Pewsey at 7.45. I had neither car nor bike waiting for me at the station and a kind neighbour gave me a lift. He offered to drive me to my door but I insisted we went no further than his village, which lies about 2 miles to the north east of mine. I wanted to walk the rest of the way home.
I set off, finding a path which skirted fields of wheat and linseed. Overhead pylon cables crackled with West Country electricity. The horseflies became so bad that I put on the suit jacket I had been carrying, and thrashed wildly with my Evening Standard, which I rolled specially for the purpose. I walked along the shade of a tall hedge feeling acute sympathy for horses and cattle. A horsefly bit me through my jacket. I trotted along for a while and lost them in a copse of tall poplars, where the nettles had gown over the path. Across a field full of bullocks, across a concrete bridge spanning the Avon and I was almost home.
Here are some photos I took on my Blackberry – the horseflies made it unpleasant standing still: