What does a PhD do with a gloriously sunny May bank holiday? A PhD’s work is never done, but sits glowering on the bookshelf: students’ mock exams, a chapter to redraft, a bibliography to finish. So, obviously, the feckless postgraduate puts on their trainers and heads out into the countryside.
As to the trainers, I can report that Nike’s Free Run V2 Ext are fantastic – they feel like springing across clouds. Their only slight flaws: a lack of ankle support, and the propensity of stones and mud to get stuck in the deep grooves at the sides and bottom.
It’s the sort of day where dappled blue and white skies spread out forever, and a little breeze ripples fresh green countryside. The sort of day where, although my phone’s camera has its flaws, you can’t resist taking photographs. The sort of day, browsing Gerard Manley Hopkins over lunch, you see reflected between the window and the page.
‘Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look like little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs to have fair their fling.’
‘Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is smeared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;’