Saturday, 20 August 2016
The second day of our mini holiday involved wandering around the City of Oxford. The hotel was very near to the River Thames and we followed the tow path into the centre, past the university cricket pitches (each university seems to have it's own one) and the boat club houses and pretty canal boats. Oxford has been used in many films and TV programs- most notably for me is the detective series Inspector Morse, and later Lewis, a spin off of Morse. I love both programs and so strangely recognised several areas of Oxford purely from them being featured in the series', especially University College with the large grass court in the centre.
It is known as 'City of the Dreaming Spires', and the architecture is really lovely, with lots of quaint carvings, grotesques, gargoyles, flowers, patterns and shields in every nook and cranny. Famous buildings you may have heard of include the Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Museum, The Radcliffe Camera (below) and Christ Church Cathedral.
You can actually climb the tower of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin- be warned that the only way up and down it is an incredibly narrow spiral staircase- which gives you the most spectacular view over the city. It has four sides to it and on the first side as you come out of the staircase you are directly facing the Radcliffe Camera, with the University College on the right.
I was especially pleased to see some very lovely yarn-bombing around the Radcliffe Camera, provided by the Oxford Drunken Knitwits (I also love the name!). If you are a lover of community action and yarn-bombing then their details are on the link on their name and I have also included the photo of their donation details should you feel so inclined (centre of above montage). The whole yarn bombing consisted of long strings of crocheted and knitted flowers entwined around the fence circling the RC, in lots of different colours and styles. My favourite was the little bee though, such a happy face!
Another textile link is through William Morris, one of the greatest English designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement (and dare I say, one of the greatest designers ever?). His designs are still highly sought after and cherished. We sell his fabric and wallpaper designs at work through the company, Sanderson, and interestingly they have just revamped some of his most successful designs and given them a modern twist, creating a collection called Pure Morris- but that's another story. His wife, Jane Morris, who was a renowned embroiderer in her own right was born in Oxford and I presume they met whilst William was studying theology at Oxford University.
We wandered pretty much all day; stopping for a fantastic lunch and several stops for coffee, paused to reflect underneath The Bridge of Sighs (above montage, middle left and bottom right) which joins two parts of Hertford College together, and popped into lots of shops as The Mother and I were on the hunt for badges for our camp blankets, eventually finding ourselves at the back of Oxford Castle along the river.
The evening was spent back along the river where we had walked past the boat club houses earlier that day on our way into town. The river had been transformed from the sleepy, quiet place of the morning to a bustling, fast paced metropolis full of puffing rowers whizzing across the surface of the water, cycling coaches chasing after them along the tow path shouting instructions through megaphones; joggers, dog walkers, general passers by, narrowboats, river patrols....it was all going on and quite fascinating. We had bought a picnic tea in a local supermarket and sat chatting companionably to a couple of ducks who came to say hello, eating our tea and observing the local life until the sun started to set. People are really very fit in Oxford, we were quite breathless watching them all!
The walk back to the hotel took us through golden fields with horses and geese (can you see them in the brown circle in the photo above?) nibbling on the grasses. It was a very nice end to the day.