In praise of... a singing silence

A couple of weeks ago, in glorious sunshine, I visited Oxford for a meeting. Being able to spend some extra time there, and to spend some of that in The Trap Grounds, was both blessing and balm. London may well be my city; it may well be vibrant and colourful and alive, but it's also noisy, meaning I have to search for oases and pockets of calm and silence.

The Trap Grounds is an urban oasis on the edge of a small city. Bordered on either side by a railway and a canal - with which it shares its resident swans and ducks - and managed entirely by volunteers, it is a few acres of calm and wild loveliness. Here I have picked blackberries, glimpsed kingfishers, watched newly-hatched cygnets take to the water and followed the gradual yet distinct unfolding of each new season. Here I have walked and prayed, in a blissful quiet rarely found away from the countryside. Apart from the muffled rumble of passing trains and the occasional squeal or shout from other visitors, the only sounds to be heard are those of its feathered residents, who make this a truly singing silence.

Sitting by Kingfisher Pond, the balmy air replete with birdsong, a stilling sense of beatitude enfolded me. I hope this little spur-of-the-moment video (even with a distant train!) can convey something of that, especially for anyone else caught up in the noise and bustle of big city life.