Sunday 22nd February 2015 (Day 7, week 7)
Hello lovely people,
Mr RR and I are visiting with RR junior and Ms K in Oxford, where I have to say, February is in full swing…..it’s freezing here! Undaunted we set off this morning for a walking tour of Oxford with a printed guide called The Parks and Spires of Oxford from Walking.com; and then moseyed around Oxford for the afternoon attempting to keep warm and dry.
Now, before proceeding with the ramblings – I just have to say that I’m a little disappointed that no-one noticed my error in the rambling mileage calculations – I’ve now corrected this and can confirm that at the end of week 7, I’m still ahead of target – yippee! (and I expect more focus from you all in the future!)
Thanks for reading
Target – 1000 miles in one year. Weekly goal – 20 miles
Total achieved so far – 150.3 miles (target 140)
Achieved this week – 22.4 miles
Oxford City and Parks (6.9 miles)
We left our lovely apartment (www.theoxfordapartments.co.uk) bright and early and walked up the hill to the Harcourt Hill campus of Oxford Brookes University from where we can catch the bus into Oxford City Centre. Arriving in High Street we made our way straight to The Grand Cafe for a hearty breakfast. The Grand Cafe claims to be the first coffee house in England and is indeed ‘grand’.
Fortified against the cold we made our way back up High Street towards the University Church and turned right into Radcliffe Square, home of the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library. Then across the cobbles towards Catte Street and Parks Road, passing the New Bodleian Library – now freed from its hoarding and scaffolding, which has surrounded it on all our previous visits, and looking very smart. Along Parks Road we pass the Pitt’s Rivers Museum, also refurbished and Keble College with its intricate red brick patterning.
Then we turn into Oxford University Park and walk around the perimeter towards the River Cherwell. The University Park is full of facilities for sporting activities, cricket pitch and pavilion, rugby pitches and croquet lawns apparently. A little research tells me that there is a famous nude bathing spot here called Parson’s Pleasure – I’m glad to say we saw no nude bathers today, not surprisingly. It’s soon obvious that we’re entirely out of place, sporting no lycra or iPod, we seem to be the odd ones out amidst crowds of runners and joggers. However, we pick up the (walking) pace – after all it is freezing – and make for the lake with its tribe of mallards quacking away loudly in the hope of crumbs.
Now at this point I have to deviate from rambling to tell you that Mr RR has bought a new book. Its called ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’ and its a gorgeous little ‘Compendium of Collective Nouns for Birds’ compiled by Samuel Fanous and complete with 18th century illustrations (wood cuts) by Thomas Bewick. My point is that, from now on, I will be able to keep you educated about the correct terminology for ‘flocks’ of birds. And I can begin with mallards – ‘A sord of mallards’ is the appropriate term. Here is one of the illustrations from the book:
Anyway, this sord of mallards were joined today by a pair of Canada geese, the first of many we saw today. Not having any crumbs with which to quiet the ducks we hurried on to walk alongside the fast flowing Cherwell, a complicated river which splits so that at one point we are walking between the two rivers. Passing the University sports field we can see that a ‘gaggle of Canada geese’ have taken up residence.
Eventually we reach a pretty cottage right on top of the river, with a flood gauge practically in the garden. The sluice gates are open and river water is cascading through, with the river opposite looking worryingly high to us.
We exit Oxford University Park here and cross the road to Headington Hill Park, noting the beautifully sculpted, ornate mosque on our right
and walking briefly uphill before turning and heading downhill again, admiring the snowdrops and crocus just coming into flower amongst the trees and grass. This park was originally owned by the Morrell family but is now leased to Oxford Brookes University by the city council. It is the venue for open air Shakespeare performances and other events. Leaving this park we walk down the road, over Magdalen (pronounced ‘maudlin’) Bridge and pass the Oxford Botanical Gardens, the oldest botanical gardens in the UK, before turning into Christ Church Meadow, an area of pastureland bordered by the Rivers Cherwell and Isis (Thames), maintained by Christ Church College. Christ Church is the grandest of all the Oxford Colleges, founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525.
We leave the meadow by the war memorial garden
and head back into the city centre, stopping for a little essential fabric shopping on the way. Then back up to High Street and along Cornmarket Street to the Ashmolean Museum for a cuppa with RR junior.
Leaving the men to enjoy a William Blake exhibition, I then continue my perambulations of the city streets, although it is pouring with rain now and I am forced to take shelter in various bookshops along the way! We meet up again later and eventually find our way to a bar for a glass of wine before, defeated by the weather, we catch the bus back to Harcourt Hill.
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major:
I’m Currently reading:
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit