As you probably don’t know but perhaps do I have developed an interest in drawing trees this spring. There is a sweet, heart-warming story behind how this happened but telling it is not what I intend to do tonight. Tonight I want to talk about the bus ride from Exmouth to Exeter, or rather about the trees contained within.

The bus ride from Exmouth to Exeter takes a long time: forty, perhaps forty-five minutes to the train’s twenty-five to thirty. The fare is more expensive, too (£4.50 to the train’s £3, which can be reduced to £2 with a student railcard). Still, I take the bus sometimes. Partly because I just like buses, especially double-decked ones (and, even more especially, needlessly doubled-decked ones) and partly because it gives a slightly different picture of the south-east Devon countryside, and it is one that I love.

Another thing to take into consideration is spring, and how fast it has arrived here in south-east Devon; it’s funny; I always wait for it all winter long, and when it does come, it’s always unexpectedly. So, even though there had only been a couple of weeks between the last bus ride and this, the changes were impressive to say the least. Brown trees had turned pink, sometimes even fuchsia — a plum colour, nearly. Green fields had turned yellow — ‘a dash of yellow’ someone said next to me. The flowers in the flowerbeds had changed colours too, hyacinths replaced by tulips perhaps, like in the one I walk by every day on the way home.

All this to try and explain this: there is an imaginary line of trees that I would like to draw, joining Exmouth and Exeter through Lympstone, and Topsham. (It is the line that is imaginary, not the trees; the trees are what I would like to draw.) Sitting on a bus as it zips by past them, even at the not-quite-zipping speed in which it does it, I feel a pang of regret — a longing — and every tree I will never get round to drawing reminds me of a friend I never got round to having.

All those colourful could-be’s but were-nots.