Wizards, Rabbits, and Sticky Toffee Pudding
We are getting tired, very tired. It is quite warm out too. Oxford is very much a take the bus or walk type city. Driving around the areas we want to see would be worse than difficult so I’m glad we are busing it. Next to figure out the buses; actually it was very easy and we were at the city center in a flash.
We are staying in St. Hugh’s College in dorm rooms. The up side is we each get our own rooms – three weeks is a long time for 4 women to get along together so it is nice to have some space. The downside is that we share showers and toilet facilities with everyone on the floor. Judy and Cindy only have to cross the hall, Lauri and I have to push through two fire doors and down a long hallway. It’s kind of fun actually as I have never had a dorm-life experience. I’m glad it is only for three nights however.
We get to the city center early and had some time for shopping before we joined a walking tour. The two hour tour took us around several of the colleges that make up part of the full 38 colleges that are Oxford University. Our guide gave us a condensed explanation of how the Oxford college system works but he lost me early on; I did get that all the colleges make one big university. Guess I’m not Oxford material.
The guide rattles off dates, names, statistics, loads of historic facts, with fun stories thrown in too. We hear about famous people who attended Oxford University, rivalries, and architecture. We walked in front of the home of the original Alice from Alice in Wonderland, past famous pubs, and where martyrs died. It was interesting to hear about student life too. Getting into Oxford University is hard and graduating even harder; one of the colleges only accepts 7 exceptional students a year.
Many of the colleges are closed to the public but some have limited viewing open hours. Their campuses are not like the USA but are more like little castles with open “quadrangles” or “quads”, a dining hall, gardens, and always some sort of chapel. We visited Exeter, Trinity, New, and Christ Church colleges. Most have a charge to visit and provide a little history brochure as well. It is interesting to note that some of these have been used in various film and television productions such as Harry Potter, Inspector Morris & Lewis and a bunch of others I can’t remember. I have photos of the stairway where the students were welcomed to Hogworts. It is at Christ Church College just outside their dining hall which was also used for the movie. It wasn’t large enough, even though it is quite large; it was used as the model for a recreated one 1-1/2 times larger. We heard lots of Harry Potter trivia.
We enjoyed a dinner in the famous Bear Pub where a previous owner would comment on a visitor’s school/college necktie then take scissors and snip off 3-4”, write the owner’s name down, date it and add it to his collection he had pinned on the wall. Was it an honor, or a punishment for rowdiness no one knows but it is interesting to see the neckties all over the walls and ceilings.
We also enjoyed eating desert at the Eagle & Child, aka the “Bird & Baby” as the famous Inklings would have called it. Great sticky toffee pudding; it was fun to see where CS Lewis, JR Tolkien, and other great writers would have great discussions and share ideas that would later become part of their works. Our walking tour guide made up stories of lampposts and doorways that may have inspired the Narnia books, fun information but dubious.
We walked around the city and along the riverfront listening to students exchanging ideas and theories much like the Inklings and exchanged a few ourselves. We saw students going to and leaving their final exams for this session in their special black robes. Some as they left the building were elated and others looked miserable, all of them looked like they hadn’t slept in a while.
One final shopping quest for t-shirts and sweatshirts, one last sticky toffee pudding at the Eagle & Child then back to the rooms to pack…sigh. Going home is welcomed by us all but at the same time we are sad to have the adventure be over. We’ve had such a great time.
There will be one more blog post as a wrap-up so to speak with a few more photos. I hope you will check back for it and thank you for supporting my blog and for your nice comments. Shall I do a blog on my next travel adventure? Let me know…
Keywords: Chapel", Christ, Christ Church College, Church, England, Oxford, Oxford University, St Hugh's College
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