Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Oxford Once Again - A Whistle-stop Tour in Pictures

Hello all!  If you've been reading my blog since last year, you may remember this post, from last July, when I took J. and his friend G. to Oxford for a day trip. 

The school had another training day on 1st July - they do so on the first Friday and Monday of every July - so we decided another day trip was in order.  After a bit of umm-ing and errr-ing, we decided to go to Oxford again, as there were things that we hadn't had time to do before.

J. invited a friend, this time it was his pal, M.  As before, we left the car at the Park & Ride and went into the City on the bus - top deck this time, which was fun, as I could see all the lovely old houses and some of their gardens too. 

The bus still stops in Magdalen Street, so we explored the Martyrs' Memorial again:

M. hadn't see this before, so it was interesting to him...
..and of course, if you take two 13-year-olds anywhere, there has to be some larking about!
Then it was off to My Favourite Cafe, for Breakfast No.2, since we had left home at 8am.
Waiting patiently for breakfast - 13-year-old style!
As usual, breakfast was well worth the wait!

We then went down to Broad Street and headed for the world-famous Bodleian Library.
View onto Broad Street from the end of Turl Street, showing Blackwell's Music book shop and Balliol College.
This photo shows some of the lovely old buildings on Broad Street, including the Sheldonian Theatre, on the right and one of the Blackwells' Book Shops on the left (under scaffolding just now though).
The very old building nearest to us is part of Trinity College.
The Sheldonian Theatre building, through the gate.

Couldn't resist taking a snap of this gorgeous old door (a gateway really!).  Lots of the old college buildings have doors similar to this, with various coats of arms relating to the college's history, benefactors etc.
This is Oxford's famous "Bridge of Sighs" - it connects two of the buildings of Hertford College, across New College Lane.  It really was modelled on an original Venetian brige (though not, apparently, the real "Bridge of Sighs").  A slight incongruity, perhaps a bit cheesy in a 1920's sort of way, but somehow it works all the same.  This view was from Catte Street, where the entrance is for the Bodleian.

The Hallowed Portal.... Entrance to the Bodleian Library quadrangle.
This is that entrance from the other side, within the quadrangle. The small doors all lead to different parts of the Library.  The one to the right is actually the entrance to the Shop.
Each doorway has a hand-painted sign, in Latin, telling you what is inside.

I can't show you photos from the inside of the Library buildings, as we were not allowed to take any.  There is currently an exhibition about the creation of the King James Bible, which was wonderful and fascinating.  Amazing ancient books, with original translations of the Bible in Latin, Greek & Hebrew, wonderful books of notes, copies of  manuscripts - even one by Handel - bibles that dated from the same period, but were from Europe.  All kinds of gorgeous books - and you know how I love Books!

They also had video screens, with a commentary, which the boys were able to sit at and listen to through head-phones - kept them busy, gave them some interesting history, stopped them being bored - Result!

In fact, we only went into the Exhibition Room and the shop, since you can only go into the library buildings themselves with a special pass (for students and College Members), or as part of a guided tour.  The tour would have taken an hour and we would have had to wait some time before it started.  We didn't think we could manage all that, so we just enjoyed what we could do, then went on to the Ashmolean Museum.
Main entrance of the Ashmolean Museum.

Last time we were in Oxford, we went to the museum in the afternoon and really felt a bit weary.  We decided it would be better to see the museum in the morning this time, so put aside the slot before our lunch (being suitably fortified by the New Cafe's excellent breakfast!).

M. is interested in ancient history, so that is where we decided to look.  It interests J.also, so that was a good choice.  Sadly, the Egyptian rooms were closed for a refurbishment, which was a little bit disappointing, but we went round the collections from the rest of the Ancient world - Knossoss, Crete, Cyprus, Middle-East and Far East, Greece and Rome etc. 

It was all very interesting and some of the stuff was amazing.  We all enjoyed it and I think allotting a set amount of time and choosing just one area of the museum was a very good idea.  This time, there were no sore feet, tired backs, head aches or grumps!
We had intended to eat pizza at a restaurant near the Castle, but when we came upon a Nandos chicken restaurant, we couldn't resist!  We had such a lovely lunch and were glad we went there.
How cool is this? Hundreds of Nandos' Sauce Bottles, arranged as a long sweep of lights!  We tried to calculate how many there were - about 500-600.
Of course, when you're a boy in a restaurant, who is allowed to get his own drink; well, you have to experiment with mixtures.... Fizzy-pop Science - who knew you could get education from a soda machine!
Last treat of the day - I had bought tickets for the Castle - they offer tours called "Oxford Castle Unlocked" - it was a prison for some time. Now it's a Hotel!
We were able to climb to the top of that tall, square tower, from which we had views like this!  The building on the right, with the arched windows, is the new part of the hotel.  It has a roof-terrace garden - very nice!
And the boys climbed all the steep steps to the top of the old Castle Mound - I stayed below, to "supervise"!

Then it was back to the bus stop.  As happened last time, the bus stopped just as we arrived. I was so tired I just got on and went upstairs after the boys. It was only once I'd settled in my seat (with a sigh of relief) and the bus was on the way back to the car park, that I realised I had "queue-jumped", by not going all the way to the bus stop... Oops! I am sure there were a number of people who were rather cross with me - sorry folks, I plead stupidity (or just plain exhaustion!).

The drive home went very well and we were back at 5:30pm, so M. was able to come in for a while and have a snack, before J. walked home with him. 

Yesterday the school was also closed.  J. and M. had hatched a plan for their day, which involved playing lots of computer games, larking around and generally enjoying themselves at M's house.  J. came back with a box of chocolates and a "thank you" card for me - M's obviously well trained, but how nice of him (and his mum)!

So, that was a little history of our fab day out in Oxford.  I took lots more photos, but I thought you could only stand a limited number, before you began to die of boredom.  Hope I managed to get the balance about right - thanks for reading!   


  1. I am now confused. I seem to remember seeing the Bridge of Sighs from the River. Or am I confusing that with the real Bridge of Sighs in Venice crossing a canal?
    Amazing how one's memories get so muddle over time.

  2. Sounds like a lovely day out...I've never visited Oxford, so it's nice to get a 'feel' for it through your pcs, Lizzie!
    Alison xx

  3. Ah Julie, that would be the Cambridge "Bridge of Sighs", at St John's College! How confusing indeed! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_of_Sighs_(Cambridge)

  4. Looks like a really interesting day.

  5. fabulous pictures! I am always blown away by the number of bicycles there!

  6. having lived and worked in cambridge, oxford has been merely a shopping trip with friends on 2 occasions. the only reason i recognise lots of these pics is from morse of course,
    jo xxx

  7. Jo makes me laugh, I only recognise anything at all through Morse, Midsomer Murders, Spooks, The Bill, Cracker .... ummm, any British show ... we get lots of them down here and the Brits do drama so very well, humour too - we get it, but then I suppose most of us have originated from the UK at some stage!

    Lizzie, can you please travel extensively through the UK and report back? I love these posts, you do get the mix right - thank you for taking the time, these sorts of posts require plenty of patience and wrangling with blogger ... or is that just me?

  8. thank you for the guided tour through Oxford, I am not very familiar with that city at all, it looks great xxx

  9. Ha ha, Jo & Amy! I used to watch Morse every week.

    Thanks everyone, for the appreciation. Annie, you should have seen all the bikes in Broad Street - in fact, I may have to post a photo for you!

    Amy, I'd be happy to "Travel Extensively" for your benefit - could you possibly speak nicely to the National Lottery, so they give us our Millions all at once, instead of the occasional £10 installment?

  10. You certainly manage to pack a lot into a day! That's a great collection of photos, I always get home and then realise how many things I had wandered past without photographing

  11. oooh, i go to oxford quite a lot. I love blackwells bookshop, I could spend hours there. That breakfast looks amazing too. They are two lucky boys and u seriously deserved that box of choccies! xxx

  12. Oooh, you've just given me total Oxford nostalgia. Lovely pictures :D

  13. I was so disappointed we were unable to make it to Oxford when we were in the UK. It features in so many books I read. The photos are great

  14. i went to college at at LMH many moons ago, and love seeing the city through other's eyes :) must take my own teens to enjoy it for the day - many thanks for sharing your day with us!

  15. I can't believe how much you fitted in to a day! Thank-you for the lovely photos ...

  16. Gorgeous photos and a lovely read!
    I love the photos of The Sheldonian Theatre and Im a sucker for door or doorway photos! wonderful!

  17. A wonderful selection of the local architecture and eateries:) That hot chocolate piled up with marshmallows looks awesome, not so keen on the look of the science experiment style beverage though!

    The Skaven Clanrats are the beggining of a new army, we already have countless dwarves, orcs and goblins. I wondered how many people would know what I was talking about!


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