Friday, 24 June 2016

Wandering Oxford - City of Dreaming Spires

When Daughter No 2 left to see the big wide world in 2015
she was replaced on the soccer team by a Canadian International football player. 

Naturally we, Mum's Youth Hostel is always open, offered to host this star player. Ms Canada moved into my daughter's room; took her place in the squad, replaced her as U16's coach and became a wonderful member of our family. 

Miss Canada has long gone back home, but happily we met for a day in Oxford
 whilst she was en-route to the Euro2016 Football tournament.

Here are some of the photos from our day and because others have asked me for my Oxford sightseeing tips, I have given the details.


Exam time! All Oxford University students must wear gowns to sit their exams.
We met at Gloucester Green Bus Station, Oxford. 
It is a ninety minute trip from London on the XC90 coach. 
From here it's an easy stroll down Broad Street, passing the Tourist Information Centre
to pick maps of the city, before arriving at the Bodleian Libraries.


Inexperienced as I am, as an Oxford tour guide, I always like to start outside the Sheldonian Theatre just past Exeter College. For me it is pure Oxford, designed by Wren in 1662 in the style of ancient Rome, it ticks all my tour-guide boxes!

As you walk into the Bodleian Quadrangles there is an  immediate "Wow".

You can do tours around the libraries and indeed if you want to go inside, you must take a tour. For us, it was enough to just wander and soak up the atmosphere.

Radcliffe Camera
We climbed the steep and narrow tower of The University Church of Mary the Virgin.
Yes I know, I know, you're wondering how Little Old Wren 
manages to keep up aren't you? 
One minute it's pro tennis players, the next football players...
Well, let's just say I made it!
Thankfully we didn't have the whole team up there as it's really squishy!

Views of All Souls College from the top of Mary the Virgin Tower.
It's a good way to get our bearings on the layout of Oxford and I love looking down at the stunning architecture of the colleges. Oxford has been a University town since the middle of the 13th Century.

It's usually about this time, if I've done my job well, that someone, often me, decides 
they want to study in Oxford. 


Next, it's time for lunch and I chose Quod 92-94 High Street in the beautiful Old Bank Hotel. I love the outdoor courtyard seating, the waiters were really friendly and the 12.95 GBP two course set lunch is great value.

After a leisurely lunch catching up, we head down the High Street turning right down Logic Lane past University College into Merton Street. I love all the back streets of Oxford there is something at every turn. Just past Merton College, we  find the Merton Grove cut through and suddenly we are beside a cricket pitch field, full of cricketers. It's a perfect English vista.

Of course, you can choose to visit any of the Oxford colleges, for a price but I have selected Christ Church College. Partly because I love the setting, partly because of the Harry Potter connection, and partly because it fits well on the walking tour!


Christ Church college is the largest and most visited, founded in 1525. We take ourselves on the self guided tour and find the staircase where Harry and company are welcomed into Hogwarts, and the dining room which inspired the film set. 

Around the walls we spot Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey and imagine the all lucky students eating here over the years. Thirteen of whom, have gone on to be future British Prime Ministers.  You could just imagine, how inspiring life at a famous Oxford could be. In the Cathedral a service is starting and we are invited to join in prayer. 

Is it too late to pray to be an Oxford student?!

As we exit the college we walk towards the river through Christ Church Meadow looking for some punters and we are not disappointed. Punting down the river, steering a narrow boat with a long pole is very Oxford. It either looks wonderfully serene, or at the other extreme punters can look hopelessly inept.



We are there is exam time and we can see evidence of the post-exam celebrations with flour and streamers beside the river. I wondering how many jumped in the river to clean off afterwards? On cue we hearing laughing and champagne corks popping. Punting down the river may be so Oxford but it is also not as easy as it looks, as we could tell by the punts crashing into the river banks.

We follow the river and vere off towards Rose Walk which runs along the Botanic Garden, the whole place is so, so pretty. This takes you back to the High Street and time for some retail therapy. Of course no trip to Oxford is complete without the T-shirt and we find plenty of shopping opportunities before we detour  through the covered market - again more shopping if you are inclined before reaching the Cornmarket.

By this stage we are ready for a cuppa and as every British lass knows four o'clock is tea-time. We head to the Ashmoleon museum, past the Debenhams store on Beaumont street. The Ashmoleon museum is full of ancient treasures to be explored or you can head straight to the top floor restaurant.

Our afternoon cream tea starts with a glass of bubbly, sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream ending with cakes, brownies and macaroons. All with a pot of afternoon tea. There is much discussion about the order of things. For me it's always milk before tea, cream before jam! 

Before too long we're back at the bus station to wave goodbye. I hope you have enjoyed joining me on this little wander of Oxford. If you want to see more Oxford photos, you might also enjoy last years post to celebrate the 150 th Anniversary of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Oxford'  

Linking with massive thanks to Judith at Mosaic Monday for the last time
Thank you, Judith, for being such a fantastic host. 
Whilst we will miss Mosaic Monday I know we shall keep in touch :)

Linking with thanks to Lady Fi and all the hosts at Our World Tuesday




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