Bogus And Bizarre

A good if fairly tough ride up on the Ridgeway again, as usual with Charli, but this time climbing up from Ardington. There are plenty of steep bits and even the not-so-steep or flat sections aren’t easy; it’s one of those rides that just saps your energy. For all that though, it’s worth the effort. The views are stunning and the peace and – relative – solitude is a luxury.

For the whole time we were there we saw one couple, one runner and one dog-walker. The couple were looking slightly lost so we ended up chatting to them and outlining the route we’d ridden, which would be a fair old stroll for walkers. They were Australians but by no means on their first visit to the UK nor, I think, to the area. They were certainly enthusiastic about the area they were walking in. As I’ve said before, a glimpse of your own familiar territory through the eyes of a stranger is instructive.

The towers of Didcot power station aren’t as visible from this stretch of the Ridgeway as they are from nearer to Goring, but they still peek over the surrounding hills from some vantage points. I confess I don’t know what I think or feel about them. My knee-jerk reaction is the pretty common one – that they’re an awful eye-sore. I’ve wondered aloud before about the size of the back-handers that must have been required to get such a massively imposing structure built in one of the most widely visible spots in the entire locale.

If I stop being so unthinking though, I can also see that it is quite majestic and it does have a grace of sorts – particularly the cooling towers. And we do all need power. Nevertheless, the colour of concrete is always depressing.

Riding through Ardington itself, the contrast it makes with Didcot couldn’t be any more stark. It’s a classic old estate village and the consequences of it still being largely owned by the Lockinge Estate are obvious – it is well-preserved, -kept and -heeled. There are some who’d sneer at it for being somehow false; I’ve meant plenty of people over the years who are all too eager to associate poverty, urban grime and all the rest of it with ‘keeping it real’. I can only think of that view as being totally bogus and bizarre. It’s also simplistic, and it’s demeaning to everyone it concerns – those living in urban grime included. It’s the politics of the lowest common denominator, of people who want to drag everyone else down into the hole they’re in.