Oxford – a wonderful little holiday!

The highly memorable part is that the little pub, 50 yards from the B&B and has signs saying they dish up great food; didn’t do food on the first night coz of the footie, nor on the Sunday coz they don’t do food on a Sunday (so we headed elsewhere), nor on the Monday coz they are closed for food on a bank holiday (again headed elsewhere, where Hectors order for Fish and Chips was strangely substituted with rice, chicken and veg), or the last night for us a Tuesday; because its too busy on a Tuesday to do food (so we had fish and chips in the B&B garden) We laughed – a lot!

Our May holiday this year is Oxford. Fiona and Chris have told us how lovely the city is and how interesting. So, its been on my wish list for a while. Hector arranged it all again (lovely man) and we traveled down on the Saturday.

On the way we spent a couple of hours at Blenheim palace in the grounds. It blew away the M6 cobwebs and lifted the spirits. What a beautiful place.
Hector at Blenheim Blenheim Scultpure

Our B&B is the delightful West Farm in Eaton. What a fabulous place to stay. A working farm in pretty countryside in a quiet hamlet. The decor is perfect…. Laura Ashley furniture and furnishings, Fired Earth bathroom, Whtie Company bedding. It really is wonderful. The surrounding are so quiet that having the window open to sleep was great – peace and then a dawn chorus.
Our first evening was spent around the B&B – H found the pub (100 yards away) was showing the football (big match) and they even sent me home with a takeaway supper as I didn’t want to watch the footie.

Our first full day we got a Park & Ride into Oxford and first of all visited the Ashmolean Museum. SO much to see in wonderful surroundings. Then I somehow persuaded Hector that having a cup of tea at the Randolph was a good plan – well, us girls KNOW how lovely a good hotel is for some tea! Then we hopped on a city tour bus, open top deck with headphone commentary and an hour of having our faces whipped by passing trees, but it was really really enjoyable. After that we found the Eagle and Child pub where the ‘Inklings’ – JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis et al met and talked of Goblins, and religion and fairies etc. There is an atmosphere if vibrancy and curiousity about the city – but I suppose there would be. It just drips history and learning…. A little wander then to the Bridge of Sighs and around the colleges before heading back.
This set of pics are of West Farm where we are staying and the visiting deer in the gardens.

Day 2 – rained quite hard all day so we chose indoor things to do. We began with a look around the area near the Bodleian Library and then a tour of the library itself. Our tour guide was a nice Italian lady and Hector and I were the only Brits of our group. It was fascinating and the old old library itelf like stepping into history. Stunning. After that we splooshed our way to the nearest place for a cuppa (not the best – a Beefeater pub) where they were really busy so the service iffy. Then we wanted to see the bits of the Ashmolean that we missed yesterday. This time we saw the Middle Ages, Middle East, great paintings and Pre-Raphaelites. Some astonishing art. We did get drenched, but enjoyed it anyway.

Our third night here and we are hoping that the nice village pub only 100 yards away is, finally, this evening doing food. (It didn’t!) They weren’t on Saturday when we arrived (footie) or last night (coz it was Sunday) We did however have a wonderful meal last night at a pub called the Greyhound. Super food. AND I had 2 large glasses of wine and got more tiddly than I have for a very long time. We ended up at the Bear and Ragged Staff nearby. Great food etc but tho H ordered Fish & Chips they brought him chicken, veg and rice. Funny!

Day four and the weather showed a big improvement. Usual Park & Ride into town and first thing was a lovely walk on the Broadwalk by Christ Church to the river and along through the trees by the Meadows and watching other people make a pigs ear of punting and reaching the main river where there are the boat houses for the Oxford Colleges rowing teams. Some time sitting on the banks and a leisurely walk back. Swans with cygnets, coots with babies, ducks and geese with babies. We skirted the Botanic gardens to walk behind Merton College which was covered in scented roses. We could hear cheers and laughter and a lot of happy noise coming from the other side of the College and soon saw that it was the students having just finished their exams, many in the subfusc outfit and with either white carnation (denoting end of first finals), pink carnation (end of second finals) or red carnation (end of final finals) and drinking champagne from bottles, balloons and cheering and streamers and a lot of happy faces, many covered in flour! In the sunshine it was a lovely thing to see. And when we wandered out leaving the revelers to scatter along the cobbles behind us we saw in front of us The Rose tea room, which by coincidence was the other thing I really really wanted to do in Oxford. It was featured last week in the Independent as being one of the top ten tea rooms in England. So it was a must. It might have been only lunch time but I had the luxurious afternoon tea. Delish!!! On the last evening Hector went out to get us fish and chips which we ate in the garden at the B&B in perfect sunny silence with just a little wild deer for company.

Ashmolean museum images….
Like he was winking at me - Ashmolean Ashmolean interiorAshmolean interior

Bodleian and Oxford Colleges
Bodleian interior - divinty school ground floorAll Souls and the famous sundial

… and some celebratory students after their finals on the cobbles behind Merton
Finals sat Spillling out over the cobbles at Meton College after finals Celebrating his final final at Oxford

Christ Church from the river beyond the Meadows
Christ Church and Merton College from the river

On the way home we stopped at Stratford-on-Avon where I wanted to go and see the Butterfly Farm, so whilst Hector found something else to do I spent a good hour or so in a large tropical house with large numbers of butterflies. This white butterfly is very large and flying around seemed like a white saucer silently flitting around you. Glorious!
Butterfly - a bit of fluttery shuttery
Butterfly Butterfly - a bit of fluttery shuttery

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