Sunday, March 17, 2019

England: Goodbye to Oxford

Our last morning in Oxford and still much to do. So much we didn't do that another visit is in order. But we basically just had the morning till it was time for our train. So, we started out for the city center and made a quick stop at Alice's Shop.


We picked a side street and ended up at Modern Art Oxford, which had a bunch of interesting environmental displays. Their current exhibition was called Imagining Future Knowledge and focused on understanding climate change.


One of the most intersting to me was a time table that spanned billions of years past and into the future.


It wrapped around two long walls.


They had quite a few notes on the wall before this one: History Starts!


And I found this one particularly interesting.


Locaed near that was the Story Museum.


It was closed but looked to be a wonderful spot for kids with many interactive activities and spots for kids to enjoy stories.


And the entrance was enchanting with floating umbrellas...


...and plenty of reference to Alice!


It was one of those times when you wished you were a kid again, just discovering all these wonderful things!


Rick had wanted to climb this big hill called the Motte and Bailey. It is described as a scheduled  ancient monument. I didn't know ancient monuments had schedules, but there you have it!


So I gave him the camera to catch a few views.


He said it wasn't all that great, with more than a few obstructions, but I liked this.


Then we ambled toward the Oxford Covered Market. We should have discovered this place earlier.


There were about 50 stalls, everything under the sun. Seeds...


...and cakes...


...and the requisite Meghan and Harry stuff.


Rick decided he should get his hair cut while there and yes, there was also a barber shop!


The finished product. A little shorter than he would have liked it but hair grows back!


The market had some fabulous murals and I'll share more of those some Mural Monday!


We also spent a fair amount of time looking for a plaque in the middle of the High Street that Mike from A Bit About Britain had posted HERE commemorating the martyrs Thomas Cranmer and others.


And no, I didn't get hit by a car as I'd venture into the street to take a photo of what turned out to invariably be something like this. (I should have re-read Mike's post before we arrived!)


We walked back toward our hotel, preparing to head for the train station. We passed by the Bate Musical Instrument Museum and Rick stopped in again. While he did I took a last look at Christ Church Meadow.


The light was different now and those flowers, so lovely.


I may have shown these two photos in an earlier post, but you have to understand -- outside is a world of white and I need to see these flowers!


And yes, they made me very happy!


I leave you with two of my favorite photos from Oxford. If only I could crop out that stump of a post. But then I suppose it wouldn't be real anymore!


And this.


Off to Bath!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

England: Oxford -- On the River

I love the water. Being able to look out the window first thing in the morning from our Oxford hotel and see the River Thames was such a treat. Especially given the fact that in a few months we knew all we would see in the outdoor water line would be ice!


So on this beautiful late-October day in Oxford, Rick and I just had to take a short boat cruise!


We walked across the bridge to Salter's Steamers, bought an eight pound ticket for a 40 minute cruise and there we were!


One of the first differences I noted was the large amount of rowers on the river. Certainly these were groups from the university practicing.


Some were small groups of two; others, much bigger.


And they had loads and loads of boat storage areas.


All of these buildings were packed with boats with viewing decks above. If I hadn't already known that this was a popular sport in Britain (you learn a lot from reading mysteries and watching Midsomer Murders), I would know it now!


Our guide told us that if we went down under the bridge (below), we'd be on the part of the river where where Lewis Carroll was said to have first told Alice Liddell the story of Alice in Wonderland. I'm not sure if that's right or not -- he may say that to all the tourists -- but I know it was somewhere around here. Jenny Woolf, if you're reading this and can illuminate in the comments, please do! (Jenny wrote a wonderful biography of Carroll. It's fascinating.)


Whether it's right or not, it certainly is a pretty bridge!


We past lovely houseboats at barges. I've been trying to paint this one but I think it will be an epic fail! So far, not great.


One family had bird treats -- and the birds loved it!


The scenery was beautiful. I really recommend short boat trips if you are visiting a river town!


Especially if the day is as lovely as our day was.


As we turned around and were returning to the boat launch, we could eventually see the beautiful Christ College Meadow...


...and some of the handsome buildings in the distance.


Alas. We had to disembark. (This wasn't God's gift to easy exiting. But I made it off without a dip in the river! At least I was the camera so there are no photos of that!)


Then it was time to eat. It wasn't a far walk to The Bear Inn.


This is Oxford's oldest and longest operated pub, having first started out in 1242 as The Tabard.


According to their menu info, the name changed because the Earls of Warwick patronized the hostelry and it was named after their ancient emblem. Occasional short intervals found different names but it returned to the Bear long ago.


 This just had the real feel of what I imagined an English pub to be. A spot for darts (no one playing, though!) and fun things on the wall. See those cases behind Rick?


Those are bits of neckties cut off of guests who came to the pub. There are more than 4,500, "donated voluntarily, or sometimes less so, for a measure of beer."

Speaking of which, the beer was very good. We don't have Fuller's beer over here, or I haven't found it if we do. We had it several times and I liked it. It tasted like beer. Not like grapefruit juice with beer, which is what a lot of them tend to be these days!


It was a lovely way to wrap a great day. We knew the next one would be pretty darned busy, as we had an afternoon train to catch. So, we'll see more Oxford next time! (So, are most of these pix "soft" focus because we were in a moving boat or I was shooting too fast? Or camera issues? Still trying to decide.)

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