One of the great lockdown pleasures has been digging out old (and sometimes very old) board games and playing them as a family. A new favourite is the wonderfully outdated GWR game, whose board you can see in the picture. The aim of the game, in essence, is to collect lots of stations and then race back to Paddington. But the joy of the game (for me at least) lies in the names. Taking a branch line to Adlestrop, as Edward Thomas knew, is what this game is all about.

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.


The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name


And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.


And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.


That sense of fleeting, transient, and yet age-old beauty seems particularly apt for these fragile times.

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