Day 24 21-05-2014 Wed Shipton-under-Wychwood

What a perfect day in the city of the “dreaming spires”! For our visit to Oxford today we elected to follow the urgings of electronic roadside signs to use the Park and Ride system whereby you park on the outskirts of the city and take one of the frequent buses from there to the city centre. This worked most satisfactorily.

On our way to the tourist info office we were approached by two young college-type men touting for a two-hour “free” walking tour of the city and its colleges. We liked their style and were persuaded because it was the Tripadvisor #1-rated activity in Oxford. Before joining we noticed that there were plenty other such tours both “free” and paid. “free” means “make a donation” at the end. This has worked well for us in the past (Budapest). It turned out to be a good choice because the guide’s banter and amusing commentary were enjoyable. He showed us past a dozen or so of the centrally-located colleges and recommended several for exploration after the tour.

IMG_3667 IMG_3569 IMG_3616 IMG_3617 IMG_3632 IMG_3811 We learned about the trial and horrific executions of Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Bishop Latimer on the order of Bloody Mary. They were burned at the stake by a particularly cruel method. The spot is marked by a stone cross in the pavement of a major street.

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End of Footprints walking tour
End of Footprints walking tour

The guide also recommended a pub near the Bridge of Sighs which we visited at the end of the day. More on that later.

After the end of the tour we made a re-entry into the university Church of St Mary Virgin and climbed the tower to a wonderful view over the city, particularly the adjacent colleges and their quadrangles.

Radcliff Camera

IMG_3786 IMG_3744 IMG_3768 IMG_3770IMG_3692 IMG_3669 IMG_3673 IMG_3676 IMG_3691We visited Magdalen College (pronounced maudlin) for a walk through the grounds. I sure wish I could have spent my uni days in such a delightful environment. The college chapel had dramatically different stained glass windows. These were black and white rather than in colour as had been all previous ones we had seen. Here was even a Last Supper reproduction – much better than the faded original.

IMG_3753 IMG_3755 IMG_3759 IMG_3788 IMG_3789 IMG_3834 IMG_3790 IMG_3794 IMG_3801 IMG_3803 IMG_3810 IMG_3751 IMG_3752We then walked along the punting river adjacent to the Christchurch Meadows. It was a really pleasant walk along the winding paths beside the river. We saw lots of wildlife (squirrels, geese, swan) along the way, including people attempting to punt (apparently more difficult than it looks).

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IMG_0585 IMG_0586Back in the centre, we wandered over to the famous Ashmolean Museum, but it was closed, so we headed over to the pub mentioned earlier. This is the Turf Tavern, the former watering hole of a number of famous people, including Bob Hawke. We were told that the sculling record for a yard of ale (2.5 pints) that he set here in  1953 – 11 seconds, still stands.

IMG_3927 Bob-Hawke IMG_3914 IMG_3915 IMG_3916 IMG_3917 IMG_3918 IMG_3921 IMG_3922 IMG_3923 IMG_3926

Plants and animals

Canada geese everywhere

IMG_3866 IMG_3875 IMG_3877 IMG_3882 IMG_0574 IMG_3804 IMG_3805 IMG_3809 IMG_3813 IMG_3822 IMG_3863On the way back home we enjoyed the golden early evening sun (still 30° above the horizon at 18:45) on the gently rolling wolds. This is heaven on earth.

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