Another British Ramble – Day Seven

Distance Walked: 3.75 Miles

Salmon Sandwich Tally: 5

Writing Soundtrack: Marvellous Musicals Playlist (It’s a VERY long playlist)

*** All photos are property of yours truly – Please don’t use them ***

I had tentatively planned on returning to the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden today, but since there’s less rain forecasted for tomorrow, I though that’d be the better day for it. So after breakfast at The Vaults in Garden (a favourite Oxford spot) I went to the Ashmolean Museum, which I’ve visited on past trips but haven’t even begun to see all of.

I’d forgotten that I’d booked a spring special package with my hotel rate which included tickets to the Ashmolean’s current exhibition (America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper) and Blenheim Palace (which will sadly have to be saved for another trip, I think). It’s a bit funny that whenever I visit, the featured exhibition has to do with American artists (last time, it was Andy Warhol). Like many great museums in the UK, admission to the Ashmolean is free (a £5 is kindly requested but not required). The collection of English and European silver is particularly stunning (no, seriously, with that lighting, it’s stunning) and includes a variety of pieces from pocket watches to toys to wine bottle emblems.

There isn’t much interesting to report on the rest of the afternoon as I just wandered the shops until I headed back to the hotel…where I was serenaded by church bells through my open windows (a sound I love in Oxford) until the rain started to blow in.

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Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 4

Distance travelled: 4.5 miles

Following breakfast, I spent the majority of a beautifully grey but often drizzly Day Four wandering through Cambridge. It was a busy Sunday and the streets and shops were teeming with people, but I managed to navigate them and eventually made my way to the River Cam and the Garret Hostel Bridge near Trinity College. I then wandered north and crossed the Cam again on The Avenue, but was unable to go any further without retracing my path out to Trinity Lane/Street and the main entrance of St. John’s College. I paid the £8 admission fee and wound through the chapel and the First and Second Courts until I again reached the river at the Kitchen Bridge and could finally glimpse the goal of my excursion: The Bridge of Sighs.





As they passed under the bridge, I overheard a punting guide tell his passengers that it was a favourite of Queen Victoria, who supposedly said it reminded her of the one in Venice, Italy, although they apparently have very little in common architecturally.


After exiting the college, I crossed the street to the All Saints Garden Art and Craft Market and had a chat with a lovely couple from Kings Lynn. By then, the drizzle had started so I walked south along St. John’s Street/Trinity Street/Kings Parade/Trumpington Street to Silver Street, taking me back to the Cam and a view of the Mathematical Bridge. By then it was drizzly and windy and while I had originally planned to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, I was a bit done “peopling” so I headed back through town and the market crowds to Boots and then back to my B&B to relax and get some things packed. Tomorrow morning brings an early-ish train as I make my way back to Edinburgh.

More Busy Wanderings: Another Big British Adventure – Day 11

I didn’t have any plans for Day Eleven other than to spend more time wandering around Oxford, so I decided not to set an alarm (it is Sunday, after all) and to just sleep in … until 7:30. But since I was awake, I figured I should slowly start my morning ritual of un-zombie-fying myself and a couple of hours later, I was ready to face the world. My curiosity and a recommendation yesterday from B led me to visit the Ashmolean, “the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683” that contains “objects dating from 8000 BC to the present day.” I spent a couple of hours wandering through the various amazing collections before making my way to the Ashmolean Dining Room on the top floor for some tea. Eventually, it was time to wander on and I headed down Broad Street to Catte Street (noticing on the way that the bluebells have just begun to bloom) past the Bridge of Sighs, and into Radcliffe Square, passing the Radcliffe Camera.  

 

 

My destination was the University Church, not for religious reasons, but because the views of Oxford offered from its tower are unbeatable. There was a queue with approximately a 25 minute wait when I got there and while that wasn’t a deterrent, I began to consider just how uncomfortable I am with narrow, winding stairs. After the girl in the gift shop confirmed that that was indeed what led up to the tower, I decided, sadly, that it was probably best to give it a miss. So I was off to wander some more, retracing part of yesterday’s walk back to the River Thames to visit the other Lewis spot from yesterday: a bench along the towpath. 

 

 

 
 As I sat on that bench, watching the river and people go by, I was joined by a couple who stopped and rested for awhile. We got to chatting and I learned they’re visiting Oxford – as they do every year – from the Lake District, and their faces lit up when I mentioned that I’d just come from there. After a bit of lovely conversation, they decided to resume their walk as a large tour group was heading our way. I sat and enjoyed the scenery a little while longer, but eventually, I couldn’t feel my face or my bum (it was very chilly), so reluctantly, I wandered back toward the centre of town, stopping into Alice’s Shop on the way, a store filled with all things Alice in Wonderland (This is, after all, Lewis Carroll territory). I made my way past the partially ruined Oxford Castle and the castle mound, which you can climb for £1. Since my plan to view Oxford from the top of the church tower didn’t work out, I paid a pound, but didn’t stay up very long as being up so high freaked me out more than I expected. After carefully making my way back down, I wandered around some more before stopping into Debenham’s to scout out luggage, since like with my last trip, I may have to buy another suitcase for the return journey; I haven’t really bought much at all, but I worry that PJ is over the 51 lbs weight limit. Luckily, Debenham’s is having a massive sale and if I get another suitcase, I’ll have room for Jaffa Cakes.

Busy Wanderings: My Big British Adventure – Day 7

Day Seven began very, very early (I got up at 5 am), but we were outside and waiting when the taxi pulled up at 8 o’clock.  We got to Paddington much more quickly than I thought we would for that time on a Monday morning and after exchanging a bunch of goodbye hugs with C, I hopped an earlier train than the one I’d planned because it just happened to be a direct one to Oxford.  I actually got into Oxford just before 10 am and got a cab to Keble (kee-ble) College where I’m staying during my visit.  Check-in isn’t until 2 pm, but they kindly let me leave my luggage and then I set off to wander around Oxford and see all the well-known must-sees…especially if one is a fan of Inspector Lewis…which I absolutely am.

I wandered down Parks Road and across Broad Street, where I passed the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the Bridge of Sighs before making my way into Radcliffe Square to behold the iconic Radcliffe Camera.  After taking lots of photos – like a typical tourist –  I wandered through an indoor market with lots of little shops and restaurants before emerging on High Street.  I followed it down to Queen Street, where I decided to wander around Marks & Spencer before having lunch in their café at a window table overlooking the hustle and bustle outside.  I then wandered past Oxford Castle and eventually made a loop back up to Broad Street passing the White Horse pub on my way back to Parks Road and Keble, where I sat and relaxed until it was time to check-in.  There’s something indescribably fascinating about the way that Oxford’s many colleges intertwine with the shops and sights of the town, especially to someone whose university was up on a hill and it was a good 5-10 minute drive down into town.

  
  

I had reserved a quad view room which was lovely.  It’s very spacious and the view is fantastic, although it wasn’t that fun lugging PJ, my suitcase, up the stairs; the steep ones down into the London flat weren’t fun, either.  After unpacking a bit and taking a sort of power nap, I wandered back to Cornmarket Street for some things from Boots and then stopped at a Mexican restaurant that I’d found on UrbanSpoon and got a salad to take back to my room.  It was very nice of the young man behind the counter to warn me that the habanero salsa (I do know what a habanero is, dude) was spicy and my apologies if I scared him by trying a huge sample without flinching.  He did look rather shocked and I think he was waiting for my head to explode.  

I should think about going to bed now and catching up on sleep, but I’m trying to work my way through a Downton fangirl dilemma.  My original plan was to drive from Oxford to Bath (my next destination), stopping in Bampton on the way and wandering through the village that doubles for many locations in Downton Village.  Now that I’ve decided to stick to the train, it isn’t such a sure thing.  I did make it to the Chelsie Beach in West Wittering and that in itself was a pretty awesome fangirl pilgrimage (if I do say so myself, especially considering how terrifying it was to drive there).  A good friend has encouraged me to try to find another way to get to Bampton and I have fortuitously discovered that there is a bus route that runs there from Oxford  I’ve just spent an hour or so meticulously studying the route map, Google Maps, and the bus company’s site and I think I’m going to dig down deep and find the courage to embark on a bus adventure through the country tomorrow.  Anyway, I plan on catching the 8:20 bus which means another early start, so I should probably head to bed.