Saturday, June 25, 2011

Canal boating and college viewing in Oxford

I still haven't seen a squirrel. I am advised they are crepuscular (love that word) so maybe I should keep watch around the hours of 10pm and 4am. Then again, maybe not.

On Wednesday I took the Oxford Tube to Oxford with two of my lovely relatives who are in the UK for a birthday and a wedding (G & J). Despite its name, the Oxford Tube is a bus that runs from London to Oxford every fifteen minutes or so. We were to meet at 9.30, but I made a series of wrong decisions about which tube line to catch and where to change, and then ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction when I finally got to the correct station, so I think I was about 45 minutes late.

After a bit of a traffic jam on the outskirts of Oxford, we drew into the bus station and met the Lady of Oxford and Canal, who took us for coffee and then back to her canal boat a few miles from Oxford. Canal boats are long and narrow and very well thought out. This one had a bath and a wood fire, and room for four people to sleep if you converted the dining table into a bed. The Lady of Oxford and Canal lives on hers all year round, and she says it's especially warm in winter (even with the snow!) because it's such a small space to heat.

We had a wonderful lunch and I sampled fennel tea, and then took the bus back into Oxford to have a look around.

There's a real sense of atmosphere in Oxford: the multitude of ancient buildings, the busy students, some having just finished exams and wearing robes, the cobblestones, the bicycles on the roads and chained to any available street railing, the colleges with cloisters where hundreds of thousands of students have lived over the past 800 years. The Lady of Oxford and Canal is an Oxford alumna, so was able to get us in to see a few of the buildings: Magdalen College (pronounced 'maudlin') with its own deer park and moat, Hertford College with its twisty tower in the Old Quad, and the Bodleian Library. One of the rooms in the Bodleian Library was used as the infirmary in the Harry Potter movies. Though we didn't get to go in, we saw the Radcliffe Camera (a huge round library building built in the 18th centrury, and nothing to do with a camera that I know of).

We'd done a fair bit of walking, so it was good to get back on the bus and be carried back to London. We had dinner at McDonalds (which does not count as going to the McDonalds I live next to, so I have now survived for a week without going to that McDonalds!), I said goodbye to G & J and took a more direct route home than that on which I'd come in the morning...

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