We were in the beautiful City of Oxford a couple of weeks ago.
Now, for those of you that don't know, we live in Carlisle, but Hubster is from "down South" (Born in London, brought up in Abingdon, just outside of Oxford)
So, we do pop down there from time to time to visit relatives and friends, but as our time is quite limited we usually end up just visiting and have never really done the tourist thing of exploring such a beautiful place.
Until we popped in to see my friend Sandie.
After a lovely home-made lunch and conversation, she was surprised to hear that I had never actually been into any of the colleges that are part of the University City of Oxford, so guess what? we jumped on a bus and set off :)
Sandie's son, Richard really knows his stuff about the area and was giving us a proper guided tour with loads of really interesting information. I would suggest to anyone that getting a tour guide would be worth every penny as there is so much to find out about this wonderful place.
Now, do forgive (and correct) me if I get names and places wrong, I was clicking away and scribbling notes, so I am hoping that they all match up.
The first thing that amazed me was how you could go through a small wooden door, just off the high street, surrounded by retail and coffee shops, and walk into this amazing 'other land'. A big square of green surrounded by beautiful buildings and huge 'chapels' that were more on the size of cathedrals!
How can this happen? How can all this be just behind a high street?
This is Exeter College. I wanted to go into the chapel as I love old church buildings, but there was a wedding going on so we couldn't. The wedding guests were very nicely dressed though :)
Just look at those pointy arch windows, such a beautiful shape.
We walked back out onto the street and around, down and across (I have no sense of direction and I could never repeat the steps we took) to All Souls College and the Radcliffe Camera. What an amazing building that is, I didn't get the best photo, but click on the link to see better ones.
Then it was onto the Bodleian Library - this place has SO many books as I believe I remember being told that it gets a copy of every book issued in the UK. We didn't see the books (it was a very late afternoon trip out) but we stood in the room above them and imagined just how many books there were under our feet.
Look up, you will see that the ceiling is stunning, all hand-carved no doubt.
Some scenes in Harry Potter were filmed in this building.
Back out into the rain where we passed the Bridge Of Sighs, which connects two parts of Hertford College.
Our last college to visit was Magdalen College - pronounced at "Maudlyn.
I couldn't resist snapping this beautiful stained glass piece. I love stained glass.
It was getting dark outside now, so my photographs are not so good, but this was inside the chapel.
As was a copy of the Last Supper painting by Leonardto da Vinci. This painting is HUGE, I am not sure if it is a size-for-size copy, but I didn't expect it to be quite so big.
I loved walking down these corridors and I learnt that they are called cloisters - isn't that a great name? It means the covered walkways around the quad, which in this case is the pretty green grass in the centre. I wanted to run through them singing songs from the Sound Of Music - for no particular reason. But I resisted.
This is the view from the cloisters.
And we got to look inside the dinner hall, set for dinner. Can you imagine all the scholars in their robes sitting their meals? It's almost like stepping back in time, or into a film set.
Magdalen College also boasts a Deer Park, which happens to be featured on Trip Advisor as an attraction :)
As you can see the weather was getting a bit pants at this point, but we did spot some deer sheltering under trees in the distance.
The final visit of the afternoon was a trip to the Ashmolean Museum to see the Egyptian exhibits - as I love that kind of thing :) Obviously, having been to the Cairo museum to see their offerings, nothing quite stands up to that experience, but it was a really good exhibit, and free entry, so if you are passing, do pop in.
And that was my trip to Oxford. Maybe over the past few years we should have taken time out of our hectic visiting schedule to go and explore, but family and friends are a little more important. Pairing up the time with visiting friends and sight-seeing was a perfect alternative.
Thanks Sandie and Richard for your everlasting patience, sharing your knowledge, the wonderful food and hospitality and an amazing day.