Here - There - Somewhere travel blog

What Every Road Needs

Knowlege Angel

Grand Entrance

College Quadrangle

Soaring Knowledge

Coloured In

Protection?

Lonely Boats

Climbing High

New Student 1

Bike Heaven

New Student 2


Peggy-Ann was still unsure of her ankle. I contacted Thomson, another old mate from the Paris days. He and Julia would be delighted to catch up but having just returned from France, could not do so until Friday.

He suggested that we fill in the time at Oxford. I duly found possibly the last bed in Oxford for that night, not realising that it was a long weekend, and we decided, after a suggestion from Thomson that we would tackle the Cotswold Way walk rather than return further north for the Coast to Coast. This had several advantages not the least being that I would not have to carry Peggy-Ann on my back from some remote part if her foot failed miles away from civilisation (yep, that’s what it’s called in the UK too). Thomson was to book the inn in the village for the Saturday night. He didn’t take account of the long weekend either.

Gee, train travel can be expensive in the old country. A mere 30 minute trip to London Paddington and then a 50 minute trip to Oxford set us back £28 ($60) a head. To be fair though, we did get a good bit of entertainment included in the tariff.

A young mother with two very young sons joined us at one stop. There were seats available, but slightly scattered so she said to her eldest offspring ‘Ask the lady there whether you can sit next to her’. The lad did as he was bid, duly seated himself and then turned back around to his mother and said, ‘Mum, its not a lady.’ Don’t you love them.

Whilst this was going on, yet another 30 something dressed in suitable business kit, shared her mobile phone conversation regarding marketing matters and the company’s competitors with all the industrial spies on board. Oblivious to all of this, another young thing diligently applied makeup, mirror in hand. First we had the foundation cream, then something else to disguise the face blemishes picked out assiduously one by one, There followed some rouge, eye shadow, delicately applied mascara and finally a lip gloss, painstakingly applied to perfectly glisten lips but not beyond. At the end of this exercise of at least 40 minutes duration, she was ready to face people properly, commuters in her company obviously not considered people, and alighted at the next stop.

Oxford is a glorious town exuding ancient tradition, the magnificent buildings that make up what is probably the world’s most famous university, crying out for one to enter, study and learn. Unlike Universities in Australia or North America, there is no real campus for Oxford University. In a way the town itself is the campus although the famed colleges of Bailliol, New College, Merton, Exeter etc are congregated near the centre, some still practicing rituals introduced at their foundation by the Church in the 14th or 15th century. In its summer glory, Oxford presented well, but with the university on holiday it was overrun by tourists rather than students and dons bicycling to and from a tutorial, lecture or other educative task. Bicycles aplenty there were though; it’s a town that runs on bicycles and many a poor soul appeared to have lost pieces of their preferred transport device to a thriving second hands parts business. In one case all that remained chained to a metal fence was the frame and chain; the wheels, saddle, pedals, and hand bar having all found alternative owners.

I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere here. It crossed my mind more than once that it would have been a great place to study. It attracted me not just because of those extraordinary buildings housing the labour and joy of learning both past and present, but also because of the alumni of this great institution. Through here passed Nobel laureates such as TS Eliot and Howard Florey along with, of course, the most important graduate of all, our very own Bob Hawke: Rhodes Scholar, Prime Minister of Australia and yard jar drinking champion (Prime Ministers John Gorton and Malcolm Fraser also graduated from Oxford but were not up to standard on the beer trick).



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