The very name of ‘Oxford’ conjures many cultural, literary and historical images for ‘the reader’ lucky enough to travel to the town. We were able to explore, bathed in that rare sunshine of October. There was much to think about and enjoy. I wished for my tripod and more time but the day was very satisfying.
Lucy was desperately keen to visit Christ Church College, due to the Harry Potter connection. She had to live with the disappointment that ‘The Hall’ was closed. She coped and understood that all the new students were commencing their academic careers, using that space. She also learnt a little about the ‘magic of film’ as the buildings did not live up to her Potterish expectations.
This anachronistic looking gentleman was on duty ‘inside’ the college and was happy to have his photo taken.
This man was ‘outside’ the entrance. There is something haunted and Lear-like in his stare. I indicated my desire to take a photo. He paused, from ‘rolling a smoke’, and I took that for a yes. He stayed in my mind all day.
I was completely enthralled by the location of ‘The Inklings‘ pub, the ‘Eagle and Child‘, understanding why all those Oxford dons, considering the proximity to their rather stately homes, visited so frequently. Location is, of course, everything.
I was amused by some of the signs and plaques located in and around the ‘Bird and Baby’, as it was known to JRR Tolkien and friends. This quote from ‘Lord of the Rings’ is particularly appropriate for the pub to highlight:
Not sure that JRR Tolkien, with his love of ‘the pipe’, would have frequented the establishment as often if the following prohibition was displayed, as it is now, prominently at the door:
Samuel Pepys wrote about the “first coffee house in England” in his diary. The Grand Cafe certainly peddles strong, aromatic coffee and Sarah can vouch for the brownies, Lucy for the chocolate cake. After this, we had the strength for more wandering down to the river. We did not do any punting but certainly liked the authentic look of the vessels. They must have done countless laps of the River Isis.
We visited several colleges and the Bodleian Library and their treasures. Lucy became a little obsessive about the nature of the ‘original’ and was none to impressed with the imprecise answer about the Magna Carta that she prised from the assistant. Lucy, here is ‘the answer‘!
This is a fascinating question:
My answer: not necessarily. Having said that, one would be enthusiastic about encouraging any human being to read, though, I’d have never seen it as a ‘moral’ activity.
Finally, we did see some candidates heading, in their traditional garb, to the examination halls. One cannot feel too sorry for them, especially considering that a student has three terms of 8 weeks in length.
That should leave plenty of time for reading!