Day Twelve was another long and busy day, so here’s another post that’s a day late. I had decided to take the bus back to Bampton, the village that’s used as the filming location of the village of Downton on Downton Abbey. I’d visited on a lovely sunny day last year – luckily timing it between filming days and tour groups – and thought perhaps I’d get as lucky again, able to wander around a second time without looking like quite so much of a tourist or crazed fangirl. So on a sunny Monday morning, I left the hotel, stopped into Pret a Manger for a (salmon) sandwich to eat later, and headed for the bus stop just around the corner on George Street, catching the 18 bus to Bampton. As was the case last year, the ride through the Oxfordshire countryside on a bus was quite an adventure, especially when passing through the various villages along the way – which have very narrow roads. After about an hour, the bus arrived in Bampton and I alighted near the church, a location that appears quite frequently in Downton Abbey, my favourite instance being for the wedding of Mr. Charles Carson and Mrs. Elsie Hughes, my two favourite characters (see posts about West Wittering and Bampton from last year’s trip for the full extent of my “Chelsie” – Charles+Elsie – fangirl madness). Luckily, I had managed to visit on another quiet day in the village, the only people about being a few locals here and there. I wandered around the village for awhile, revisiting the church, Church Gate House (“Crawley House”), and the Bampton library (the exterior of which is used as Downton Cottage Hospital), eventually settling on the bench on the green between all three to eat my sandwich.
Having been before and Bampton not being particularly big, I didn’t stay too long and caught the next bus back to Oxford. The bus stopped right in front of Debenham’s and I popped up to the top floor to buy another suitcase for the flight home (a small, cabin-sized spinner that should be just about perfect for holding the few souvenirs I’m planning to buy during the rest of my stay as well as some things from PJ so that she isn’t over BA’s luggage weight limit). After dropping the newest member of my travel family at the hotel, I headed south back to the Lewis bench along the river, determined to enjoy the location on a sunny day for once. And wouldn’t you know, it was overcast by the time I’d walked there, a journey of only about ten minutes. But, I sat and enjoyed the River Thames for awhile, watching the ducks and geese do what Oxford ducks and geese do … you know, ducky, geesy things. Eventually, I began to make my way back, wandering north along the Christ Church Meadow Walk which affords beautiful views of Oxford’s spires and follows the River Cherwell, the banks of which were covered in swatches of bright yellow daffodils.
After passing a mob of teenagers on a fleet of punts, the majority of which were screaming at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason, I passed Christ Church and Merton colleges, making my way through Radcliffe Square and back to the hotel for a bit of downtime before it was time to meet B for dinner and a night of theatre at the Oxford Playhouse, a wonderful production of Alan Bennett’s Single Spies starring Nicholas Farrell, Belinda Lang, and David Robb (another Downton Abbey fangirl favourite of mine). Shy and nervous as heck, but bolstered by having a friend with me, I waited at the stage door after the show finished and he very graciously stopped for a brief “Hello” (I think I managed not to swoon too badly, but I can’t be sure). After walking back to St. Michael’s Street, B and I said our goodbyes (thanks for a lovely visit, B!) and I just managed to get ready for bed before dropping off to sleep after a long and fun-filled day.