We were going to visit Oxford today to meet a friend of Loved one. We planned to get up at six and leave early so that we could clear the motorway before the traffic got too bad. It would have worked too if I hadn’t turned the alarm off and gone back to sleep. We eventually got going at a much more respectable time.
The motorway wasn’t as hideous as usual so we made good time. We started calling the friend about twenty minutes away from the centre of the city, eventually she replied. She had been on a boat in the English Channel the day before for many hours, she had only got to bed at five in the morning. We waited in a car parking space without paying and displaying. I sat there waiting for the friend to arrive whilst keeping an eye out for the parking police and marvelling at the number of ill-fitting bike that where be cycled past. Most of them had the saddle far too low.
Once we had sorted out the illegality of our parking we went for a wander around the perimeter of Christchurch collage via a small coffee shop. The stroll took a route along the outside of the collage and then along the river foot path to see where all the rowing was done. During the stroll, we friend explained the concept of bumps. As far as I could work out rowing at Oxford was more akin to ram raiding than racing.
We paid a quick visit to the refectory that was used in the Harry Potter films. It was packed with tourists’ hell bent on taking as many photographs as possible. It wasn’t fun, we beat a retreat.
We had to get back to the car as we could only pay for one hours parking. We moved it to an obscure place outside the city and returned by taxi. This way we didn’t need to worry about returning to the car on a regular basis.
We popped into Worcester collage to have a look at the impressive gardens and the lake. The collage was closed to tourists but as our friend had the access all areas student card we just bowled in as if we owned the place. This resulted in us being chased by a porter to check our credentials. We spent the rest of our visit being amazed at the gardens. The words “high maintenance” don’t even start to describe the amount of work that must go into them.
Loved one’s friend then deployed the card to give us a guided tour of Jesus collage. She pointed out a large painting of Queen Elizabeth that had been found in a dusty attic. It was apparently a very important piece.
We dropped into the Oxford union to have a look at the debating hall, I’ve heard it referred to so many times on the television in the context of such and such famous person was speaking there. It was just as I imagined it. A little like the house of commons but with an air of studied neglect.
There is a fireplace in the library that has an inverted chimney. I couldn’t quite see how it worked but according to the information board by the side the smoke was sucked out somehow. There are only two other examples, one of which is in a pub. This fact made me smile.
According to our guide no visit to Oxford is complete without a visit to the covered market. I have a feeling that the impending rain had something to do with this statement. Inside the market was a pie and mash shop. Needless to say, this is where we had lunch. We all selected a different flavour of pie. I went for the beef and blue cheese and accompanied it with mash and mushy peas for the full pie experience. It was astoundingly good.
After the pies, we needed a digestive so we visited Exeter Collage. We strolled to a park bench via a small and rather disappointing pond. We sat on the bench and looked down on the Radcliffe Camera and All-Souls Collage whilst discussing the finer point of long distance swimming.
Our last collage of the day was Magdalen. I feel that our guide had left the best for last. The cloisters in surrounding the quad were absolutely astounding. The centre piece was a finely manicured lawn surrounded by cream hydrangeas. We then walked past more high maintenance flower beds to a river and then on to the fellows’ garden.
The return journey wasn’t quite as smooth as the morning trip. It took almost an hour than I was expecting owning to people getting in my way and queueing up behind accidents.
We visited a local Spanish restaurant with my parents this evening. I like a good Paella and this restaurant does a good paella, I had to tell them yesterday that we wanted paella so that they could take the right amount of time to cook it. This was going to be the last time that I would see my parents for a very long time so there was a hint of sadness over the whole meal. Mum was almost I tears as we left.