A Travellerspoint blog

England

Oxford

By Hannah

rain 8 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Jesus College at Oxford: the dining hall

Jesus College at Oxford: the dining hall

A word before you read this blog:

Unfortunately, our internet connection has been minimal, so I couldn't do any research about Oxford or the university or Pitt Rivers Museum. A basic summary of our day is all I could write. Sorry :(

We parted with Milton Cottage unwillingly this morning. None of us really wanted to leave our picturesque home in the Cotswolds, but we agreed that all good things must come to an end and that it really would be worth leaving in the long run. Before we reached our final English destination, however, we took a detour through the university town of Oxford in order to take a tour of the world famous school.

We arrived in Oxford about an hour later, and spent the time we had before the tour started wandering around town and peeking into shops. We had a friendly tour guide, and were joined by people from as far away as Australia. The next two hours were spent walking around some of the colleges and grounds that make up Oxford University. The name Oxford is a combination of the words (betcha can't guess) ox and ford, or more specifically Oxanforda, which means a ford where cattle (oxen) could cross safely.

Our first stop was Jesus College, and here is where we heard a little bit about Marilyn Butler, a female head of what used to be an men-only school. Lining the top of one of the buildings was a series of grotesques, each one standing for a letter in her name. Some of them were easy enough, but none of us were able to spell out the entire thing before it was time to head inside.

Oxford Divinity School

Oxford Divinity School

The dining hall we stopped in was lined with portraits of various headmasters, kings and queens that had influenced Oxford over the years. The hall itself felt rather familiar, and we soon found out that Oxfordian dining halls had been the inspiration behind the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films. It was set up the same way with the teachers' head table at one end of the room, facing the tables and benches where the students would sit. Students were allowed to eat here if they wished, but it was no longer mandatory.

The courtyards we saw were well maintained and often had neat squares of grass that no one except the headmaster and gardener was allowed to step on. Along the walls of the courtyard hung creeping floral vines and were sometimes marked up with chalk writing. This graffiti showed which sports teams had won when against which schools.

The Divinity School was impressive to say the least, decorated with intricate and beautiful stonework. It was my favourite part of the tour. To Abby's and my delight, we found that the place was used as the infirmary in at least one of the Harry Potter films. There had once been a vast library of over eleven million handwritten, handcrafted books, of which only five survived. What really puts that loss in perspective is the thought of billions of hours of work for nought. Now, there are various libraries in different colleges, which included the Harry Potter books in Latin and Greek.By the time the tour was over, we were cold, wet, and hungry. We hurried back to the parkade and huddled inside our car, eating flatbread and cookies for lunch.

Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers Museum

Before we left, we stopped by the Pitt Rivers Museum. It's one of the quirkiest museums I've visited, right up there with the Little Museum of Dublin. There was everything from jewellery to clothes to masks to instruments to religious artefacts to shrunken heads. A particularly interesting section was one all about beauty and body modification across the world. Here we saw examples of foot binding (which is awful but fascinating, and I highly recommend you look it up on the website called How Stuff Works), scarring, lip plugs, neck elongation, and, right next to all that "weird stuff", corsets and breast implants. It made you think about the variety of definitions and expectations of beauty.

Our drive to Dover was pretty uneventful, though we hit heavy traffic and were delayed for awhile. Finally, we arrived at a quaint bed and breakfast, and unloaded our mass of bags into our room. For dinner we went to a small Indian restaurant, and ordered a variety of dishes to share. Tomorrow we'll bid farewell to the United Kingdom, and take the (very expensive) ferry over to France. Apparently we have nothing to complain about when it comes to BC Ferries.

Posted by KZFamily 12:04 Archived in England Tagged england university oxford dover Comments (2)

Here We Go a-Slaughtering

BY MURIEL

semi-overcast 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

The title may suggest that this will be about Freddy Kruger, Lizzie Borden or Jason. However, I’m sure you will be relieved to find that’s not the case.

Near Lower Slaughter

Near Lower Slaughter

So here we are, another day in the Cuteswolds (I owe that very bad pun to my husband). You know what I wrote before about walking in the fields and looking at the quaint towns? Well, ditto for today. This place just keeps on giving: great views, superb walking opportunities, lotsa sheep, beautiful gardens, etc. This afternoon, we ventured out to a small town named Upper Slaughter. It has a twin, conveniently titled Lower Slaughter, about a mile away. They were so named because they were once ‘muddy’ places (from the old English word Slohtre) and not because of anything nefarious. These towns are extremely picturesque (as opposed to just averagely picturesque) and have little in the way of touristy shops or parking. That is not to say there aren’t tourists present; we saw quite a few couples out walking in the towns. It is just that the tourists are not there to shop or have tea; they generally come for the walking and photo opportunities. We stopped in at St. Peter’s church in Upper Slaughter – the building was considerably smaller than the one in Rome. While there, we saw a list of the rectors and, impressively, it dated back to the middle of the thirteenth century. The pathway between the two Slaughters provided many views of the green hillside, large manor houses now converted into hotels, and ponds with bordering willow trees. Snap, snap, snap went the camera. Once we had explored Lower Slaughter as well, we meandered onto Burton-on-the-Water as it was just another half hour away. All in all, we were out walking about three hours, alternately raising and lowering our hoods as the weather required. We ended our sojourn by sitting on a bench amid the wild flowers ‘on the green’ and chatting while the sun warmed us. Coming home, we heard that the kids had gone out as well, exploring some more around our little village of Bledington. After dinner, Ben and I resolved to do something we have been forgetting for weeks now: to hide the little chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies around the house. So, two months late, the girls had a hunt for chocolate. Let me tell you, it’s just fun, fun, fun around here. Tonight, we must pack up, decide on who gets to carry the spices and other dried goods, etc, as we will be going as foot passengers on the ferry back to the continent.

Cotswolds

Cotswolds

Posted by KZFamily 11:13 Archived in England Tagged england cotswolds slaughters Comments (2)

Mother's Day

BY ABBY

overcast 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we celebrated Mother's Day, even though in the UK, Mother's Day had been on March 30th. It was kind of a relief, as we didn't run into hoards of mothers wanting the world to comply with everything and anything they wanted. So it was good, as we only had to deal with one of them.

Homemade Mother's Day scones with clotted cream and jam - thanks, Hannah!

Homemade Mother's Day scones with clotted cream and jam - thanks, Hannah!

We started the day off with some freshly baked scones that Hannah had gotten up early to make. Breakfast was followed by presents, which consisted of two pairs of earings (one from Hannah and one from Dad), a matching necklace (Dad), and a SUPER FANTASTIC AWESEOME SPA SET, which was made up of Scottish soap, Hadrian's Foot Balm, English hot chocolate and a card with a 19th century paisly pattern offering free nailpolish paintings and foot massage.Mother's Day in the Cotswolds

Mother's Day in the Cotswolds

After cleanup we were all off to Burton-on-the-water to walk around a little and look at shops. Most of the stores were packed full of little objects, and even though we knew we wouldn't be able to buy anything (if we had even wanted any of the stuff) it was fun to look. The weather wasn't that great, and it rained a sprinkled for the duration of our time out, but it wasn't too bad as we spent most of the time in the stores anyways. Going through the little town is a river which we walked beside for some time, watching the ducks and ducklings trying to swim against the current, and getting pushed back by the pressure of the water.

Burton-on-the-Water

Burton-on-the-Water

At around three o'clock my mom decided to go back home and we ate lunch back at the house and then spent the rest of the afternoon looking at earlier pictures from the trip. For dinner we had hamburgers and salad, and finished the evening with three West Wings, cookies and chips. Mom says that she loved the day, and that she definately didn't waste it because we got up at 9 and didn't go to bed until after midnight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourton-on-the-Water
http://www.bourtoninfo.com/

Posted by KZFamily 10:00 Archived in England Tagged shops rain england walking burton-on-the-water mother's_day Comments (2)

Caught up in the Cotswolds

by Ben

rain 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we went grocery shopping and did a few other errands in nearby Stow-in-the-Wold while the kids baked cookies (a common event at home but rarely possible on the road) and got caught up on our travel blog. When we returned home the rain was plentiful so we opted to do laundry rather than venture outdoors. Muriel and I also spent a good deal of time on logistics for our 78 days back on the continent. Muriel has managed to book quite a few more apartments and houses, leaving just 16 more days accommodation left unaccounted for. It is a great feeling to have that work out of the way including our ferry passage to France, our car lease for the continent and of course our plane tickets home.

We also took a bit of time to sort through all our belongings and put everything back in its proper place and jettison a few others. We have acquired a number of souveniers so we are always looking for ways of creating a bit more room. The rainy weather outside made it easier to buckle down to all these tasks. Fortunately, late in the afternoon, the sun did make its appearance and Muriel and I were able to take a short walk around the village. The fresh scent in the air was intoxicating. The village and the vegetation surrounding it take on an even more brilliant hue just after a spring rain. It is not hard to understand why many generations of the same families have continued to live in the Cotswolds, while many other city folk vie for the chance to buy property here. It may be time to get travelling soon or else we might run the risk of getting too caught up in this idyllic area and never leave.

Posted by KZFamily 08:43 Archived in England Tagged england cotswolds bledington Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 24) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 » Next