A great day in Oxford
May 19, 2011
|After three nights we now have to leave our little studio.
We drive to Oxford, leave Pierre in the park and ride and hitch a bus to the city.
Immediately sign up for a two hour walking tour that includes a brief visit to three of the thirty nine colleges here.
A busy little city. Young people on bicycles (without helmets), hundreds of bikes parked outside the colleges and tour groups everywhere.
The colleges are amazing. We gain entry to their dining rooms – the students can eat there three times a day if they wish. Beautiful rooms, mainly dark timber, some with leadlight and candles, all with large portraits or paintings of past benefactors and famous students. The students have to ‘dress’ to eat at the main evening sitting – some colleges provide an earlier sitting where they can dress casually. The students usually reside at the college for the first two years of their course.
All colleges have their own churches or chapels – once again quite lovely.
Very interesting hearing how the college system works – the colleges make up the ‘Oxford University’ although they are responsible for the tutoring etc of their own students. The tutoring is usually one on one.
The central university provides some lectures and most of the science laboratories, an incredible library and is responsible for the final examinations. The students have to ‘dress’ for their final examinations – black suit and white bow tie.
The library has an agreement with all publishers that they will receive one free copy of each book that is published. The archives are underground and books are brought to the reading section by a conveyor belt. The books usually have to be ordered days ahead.
After the tour we walk through the Christchurch College meadows and eat our lunch, then onto a bus for general sight seeing for an hour or so.
A brief visit to the Museum of Science, the Blackwell Book Shop (one of the largest in the world) – we also visit their music section for a copy of the Scottish folk song ‘Afton Waters’. Not available there but will try again in Scotland.
We spend the rest of the afternoon walking along the Thames before attending evensong at the Christchurch College cathedral, just to listen to the choir. As we left we encounter one of the men from the choir who is from Christchurch in New Zealand and is paid to sing in the choir eight times a week.
Nearly 7.30 by the time we rescue Pierre and is almost 9 when we arrive at our Inn at Moulsoe. Nice inn, however feel a bit ripped off with their meals – quite expensive and very little. First time we have had any complaints.
Quite liked Oxford – probably the first place we both said we could live in.