I wrote here about this same subject almost a year ago on February 8. This year the waters came even earlier, and more spectacularly, closing both the Abingdon and Botley Roads. One resident told the Oxford Times that 2014 is worse than 1947, the worst year in living memory.
I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to this time be travelling to Oxford by train, from Paddington, on January 8th. This was the day the Thames burst its flanks. My train was cancelled but I was told to go to Reading and thence to Oxford, on the fast line that goes eventually to Birmingham New Street.
Five minutes east of Oxford, just before the train ducks under the ring road, we slowed to a crawl, and to my amazement I realized, looking out of the window, that the whole line was submerged. We were on a train wading through the Thames. How exciting! There were lots of hi-viz clad engineers wading around with clip boards to make sure we didn’t float off.
Later in the day I spoke to the gardener at Corpus Christi, David Leake, about a forthcoming feature for Oxford Today. He said he’d spied a deer swimming across Christ Church Meadows that very morning, at first light. “Initially it was leaping, but then it had to swim," he explained. "I think it may have been disturbed by a dog. It actually turned back upon realizing that it was out of its depth.”
I then walked down The New Walk, that great tree-avenue that leads down to the Isis just upstream of Folly Bridge. The beginning of the river was only visible because of the mooring points of the pleasure steamers. The light was failing and I had an uncertain return trip to make by train, so I turned back.
As I did so, it began to rain again.