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.


Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 15

Distance travelled: 7.15 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 13 (but I also had salmon sushi for dinner so one could argue that salmon meals stand at 14)

Day Fifteen was my last full day in Oxford and even though I don’t leave until tomorrow afternoon, the thought of having to say goodbye makes me sad. I let myself sleep in again this morning and like yesterday, was on my way to breakfast at the Vaults and Garden around 10 am. The sun wasn’t out, but since it wasn’t raining, I couldn’t resist sitting outside to enjoy the view of the Radcliffe Camera again.

After breakfast, I went to the post office to mail home that box filled with Jaffa Cakes and caramel biscuits. They were busy again (I have a feeling that post office, being in the Oxford City Centre, is always busy), but it wasn’t too long until I was back on St. Aldate’s, heading toward the River Thames. I’d decided to dedicate as much time today as necessary to walk down to Iffley Lock, a location from my favourite episode of Inspector Lewis (“The Ramblin’ Boy”) that a friend showed me the way too during my visit last year. It’s just over a two mile walk each way along the tow path and I wasn’t in any hurry as I made my way along the river, stopping on my journey at a horse-filled meadow for a few minutes (although they were busy eating and ignored me).

I reached “The Bridge” at Iffley Lock and after snapping lots of photos, sat on a bench to watch the ducks for awhile (there were lots of ducks and I’m not sure who was more fascinated, me or them). 

After enjoying a trail mix bar and some water, I made my way back along the towpath, past the horses (who had either disappeared or all turned into geese), and across the Thames, deciding to take the daffodil path along the Cherwell again as a longer means of getting back to the Broad Walk at Christ Church College. After stopping at Paperchase for a luggage tag (funny that my luggage makes it to my destinations but my luggage tags don’t seem to), I headed to the Ashmolean Museum with the intention of seeing some of the exhibits I didn’t get to last year, but found it difficult with it as crowded as it was. So, I didn’t stay particularly long, visiting the museum shop before stopping at Boots and then Wasabi for some take away sushi for dinner (something not Costa), making my way back to my hotel via Market Street, Brasenose Lane, and Radcliffe Square.

Tomorrow I return to London for the final stop on my trip, one last week which I know will fly by no matter how desperately I wish time would slow down.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 13

Distance travelled: 3.25 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 11

Day Thirteen was the day I said a fond farewell to Bath and returned to lovely, beloved Oxford. Showered and packed up before breakfast, I lounged around and read and then left PJ at the B&B while I wandered out to see a bit more of Bath since I had plenty of time before my 1:43 train. My first stop was to browse the Roman Baths shop, since it was swarming with people during our visit the other day. After buying a single postcard, I headed to Bath Abbey since I hadn’t visited it before and spent about half an hour there before walking back to the Parade Gardens, empty of almost everyone except the gardeners and four ducks (probably the same four ducks from the other day). I then strolled back to and across Pulteney Bridge and along the opposite side of the river and slowly made my way back to the B&B, stopping at the sweet shop around the corner for some sherbet lemons. 

I collected PJ and rolled her to the train station (a very short walk and easier than a cab with the way Bath’s streets are set up), getting there with still more time to kill before my train so I found a bench and a cup of tea. Eventually, I caught the 1:43 to Paddington, changing at Didcot Parkway for Oxford and arriving in the City of Dreaming Spires just after 3pm. After catching a taxi to my hotel and checking in, I set out on a short walk down the High Street to Cornmarket Street in search of a late lunch/early dinner, stopping at Boots on the way. After procuring nibbles (not Costa this time), I wandered along Broad Street and through Radcliffe Square on my way back to the hotel (where I’m now trying to tune out the annoying giggling from the restaurant patio below my window with my musicals playlist – your giggling is no match for Julie Andrews, yo).

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 24

Although my journey today was a short one, since it was a travel day, it meant another early start to get showered and packed and checked out.  While I still haven’t had to unzip PJ’s expander, I’m actually a bit relieved that this will be the last time I’ll have to pack everything into her; I’m buying a second suitcase when I get back to London so that I can split stuff up and not be dinged for being way over the luggage weight limit.

Anyway, I checked out, stowed my stuff in the porter’s lodge, and made my way down Parks Road to Radcliffe Square to have breakfast at the Vaults and Garden again.  Sitting outside in the shadow of the University Church with a view of the Radcliffe Camera, it wasn’t as cold as my first breakfast there three weeks earlier…but it began to rain, so I moved my tea and toast inside, which wasn’t too awful.  Connected to the church, the café is in a room built in the 1320s.


 After breakfast, I made my way back to Keble College and caught a taxi to the train station.  Of course, I got there ridiculously early, so I just bought my ticket and chilled until it was time to catch my train to London.  That journey took just under an hour, with the train only calling at Reading and Slough on its way to Paddington.  I arrived in London around 1:30 and PJ and I walked the couple of short blocks to the flat that will be my home for the last five nights of my trip.  It’s a lovely, lovely flat on a beautiful tree-lined street and it’s super quiet…probably because I’m on the fourth floor (that’d be the fifth floor in the States).  Luckily, there is a (tiny) lift in the building…that goes to the second floor.  But the owner insisted on carrying PJ up the last two flights; he actually hoisted her up and carried her over his head!

After lounging around for a bit, I made my way back to Paddington station to hit up the Sainsbury’s for some groceries.  Having a flat with a kitchen is a nice change from having to venture out for meals.  After dinner, I did some laundry, FaceTime chatted with home, wrote a bit, and now I’m off to bed.  Tomorrow, I’ll venture to Debenhams on Oxford Street to buy another suitcase and then, it’s Gypsy with Imelda Staunton at the Savoy Theatre tomorrow night!