A few days ago I wrote about Oxford in autumn. Shortly after, I got in the car and drove west to Llannerchwen, our house of prayer near Brecon. It's about a three hour drive (that's 4 CDs of evocative music plus breaks for the radio news) along the A40, which I especially enjoy - it's very much part of the retreat or quiet time experience. At one end there are Cotswold villages and a saunter through Cheltenham; at the other, the majestic beauty of the Beacons; all along, lovely scenery and, at this time of year, the most stupendous autumn colours.
My one regret as I drove along was that I couldn't run a video camera at the same time, to capture something of what I was driving through! Trees lining the route, like a multi-coloured guard of honour: russet, gold, copper, flame, bronze, all interspersed with various shades of green; at times forming a canopy, at others standing back, stiffly to attention. Then, across the Welsh border, in the distance, the guard arranged itself in tiers along the hillside, and the colours seemed muted into pinks and citrus.
Yesterday I drove back in bright sunshine, the brilliant blue sky belying the fact that it had rained heavily overnight. Shadows from the canopies turned the road and vehicles ahead of me into stripes and dapples, and my heart sang along with the evocative music (Enya, Ceci Rivero and Vince Ambrosetti).
They say it is better to travel well than to arrive. Arriving - in both Llannerchwen and back home - was important, but the quality of my stay, and of my return, was definitely enhanced by the quality of the journey, and for that I am truly grateful.