When Oxford Became A Village

Jerk…shudder…grumble…jerk…jerk…shudder…

The van wasn’t happy. It protested most forcefully at being asked to move in the cold, very cold, morning that we had. It grumbled and shuddered and jerked and told us, in no uncertain terms, that it was most displeased with the mere one degree temperature it was being asked to perform in. It sure was a cold’en today, so I didn’t blame the van for its attempt at a mechanical mutiny.

“New Year’s Day is the time to visit Oxford,” commented Steve.

It certainly was, if you wanted the city to yourself! That’s what it felt like at times, as we roamed the streets of this old and grand town, which in places was so quiet and so deserted, we could have easily mistaken our location for a sleepy country village.

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Deserted!
Deserted!

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We strolled the streets around the colleges, with their illustrious names…University College, Merton College, Christ Church, Queens College, Trinity and Balliol. Oxford is certainly aware of its history and acclaim and the whole place has an atmosphere of eminence.

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I think my favourite parts of the city though, were the streets behind the colleges. We strolled through Christ Church Meadow, a huge area of parkland held in trust by Christ Church College. It was a vast expanse of green and gardens that contrasted with the earthy browns and greys of the aged and historic buildings that are the feature of this learned city.

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Christ Church College
Christ Church College

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We strolled along the wide path, that creates a thoroughfare through the meadow, then ducked down a side path to find ourselves on a quiet cobbled street. This was my favourite part of the city that we saw. It was like stepping back in time, with the old stone houses and the cobbles underfoot and not a soul to be seen.

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The day hadn’t warmed up any. It was the sort of day that leaves one’s nose impersonating a tap and giving Rudolph a run for his money! It was bitterly cold and Steve ended up throwing off the new gloves that he bought a couple of weeks ago, because they weren’t able to stop his hands feeling like they’d been beamed by Scottie to some Arctic outpost, instead of simply being attached to him and strolling the streets of Oxford. We were having a lovely time seeing this beautiful city, but decided we might take our chilly selves into an indoor environment for a while, just to thaw out a bit. What better place than one of the most famous museums in the world and a name that was certainly known to me – The Ashmolean.

We strolled around the halls and exhibits and I was reminded, once again, as I am continuously, of the age and history of this country. We looked at the Roman exhibits and I was taken with the artefacts on display that had emerged from the farmland of Oxfordshire. Plough your field for a crop of spuds and up pops some Roman relics. I still find that quite incredible.

The things you find when you're digging up potatoes! These are Roman artefacts found in the fields of Oxfordshire
The things you find when you’re digging up potatoes! These are Roman artefacts found in the fields of Oxfordshire

Steve ran into an old mate while we were there. It’s someone who’s had quite a profound impact on the Big Fella, so it was nice they were able to meet again and Steve was able to demonstrate what he had learned.

Steve and his Professor of the Point Pose
Steve and his Professor of the Point Pose

We ventured back out into the mega chill and continued our stroll, then headed back to our hotel where I watched an old episode of Inspector Morse so I could try and spot some of the places we’d just been. I really do think I need to stop travelling by way of British television!

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We haven’t finished exploring Oxford and there are places I still want to see, like The Bodleian Library, which was closed today. We’ll also be seeing some sights in Oxfordshire and back into Buckinghamshire, to continue our exploring and discoveries.  Today was a terrific day of roaming and gazing though. A top start to 2016. I even had the gym all to myself again this morning for my run, so no new year’s resolutions taking effect on anyone, to join me for an early morning spot of exercise. Last year, we wondered where we would be on New Year’s this year. I don’t think we thought we would be strolling the streets and lanes of Oxford. Here were are though. Here we are in another amazing place. Here we are having more amazing experiences. Here we are, beginning 2016 with the gathering of more memories. Here we are, and…here we go…to see more, do more and learn more on the tail end of this amazing, life changing adventure!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a healthy, joyous, adventurous, memorable and totally “breeyant” 2016!

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