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Meeting house surveys day two – and its very different. The high humidity has raised a haze which obscures the view across the valley. The ground cover being somewhat different, and the agriculture that more intensive, also makes a difference to the local wildlife. As the heat of the day builds the humidity brings shower clouds which, occasionally, descend to temporarily cool the air.
For me Broad Campden is the least accessible of the eight local meeting houses. However, its location makes up for that, as it affords the opportunity for a ramble around the north Cotswolds.
Train to Oxford, train to Moreton-in-Marsh and then bus to Chipping Campden… again. I did this journey less than a week ago. The town was a little quieter than last Saturday, when it was full of walkers sheltering from the heavy showers. As the bus was late I immediately rush off across the fields to Broad Campden, just under a mile away.
Broad Campden Meeting House was in use in 1663, and extended in 1677 – although it had a near 100-year hiatus in use until Friends re-established the meeting in the 1960s. Its recent refurbishment fifty years ago, and a complete roof renewal last year, mean that it's one of the best maintained meeting houses in the area.
The routine is the same as the previous day. Take photos of everything in the interior and exterior – from walls, to the electrics to the information boards – and then await the surveyor. The job takes about and hour, after which I have lunch and meet up with a local Friend from the meeting to talk over the results.
Then I'm off via the shortest route to Moreton. It would be nice to go across country but, with the current ground conditions, that would add about an hour or two of slipping and sliding – which I don't really have to spare today.
The first section is quite nice, the air having been cooled by the recent shower. From Broad Campden to the top of the hill, and then following the footpath through the wooded shelter-belt to Northwick Park – the now business park which was once a World War II field hospital, and then, from '46 to '69, a camp for displaced Polish families.
From there down the hill by road, and then I cross the field into the village of Draycott. Here I pause on the bench by the post box. The humidity is building, and I've a hill climb to do, so I drink half a container of water in anticipation. But then, to add encouragement, the wind picks up and the sun come out bright and clear.
Climbing Dorn Hill along the road, through the small woodlands with primroses and songbirds, I take in the view. Nearing the top of the climb the weather takes a turn.
There had been a heavy shower when I arrived at Moreton which stopped by the time I got off the bus. There was another when I was at the meeting house. Now, above the ridgeline of Batsford Hill I can see large black shower clouds building in the Severn valley.
Over the top, and down the road into Moreton. As I leave Batford there's a sudden rumble and a bang, and for the next few minutes I'm treated to an ear-pounding thunderstorm – but no rain.
The ominous clouds pursue me into Moreton, which I enter across the main road, dodging the evening queues of commuter traffic. I've a twenty-minute wait for the train, change at Oxford, and when I arrive home in Banbury the heavy shower – which I could see all along the sunset-lit skyline on the train journey home – finally catches me before I get into the house.