A few short diary notes from our first trip out with the caravan this year, to visit the City of Oxford. The city is famous amongst other things for the oldest university in the world, and as an historic backdrop for Inspector Morse, Harry Potter and I’m sure many more!
Saturday. We arrived at Greenhill Leisure Park, a beautiful site with good views of the Oxfordshire countryside, and situated only a few miles away from the city centre.
Sunday. A drive into Oxford and a wander round to get our bearings. Oxford is served by an excellent park and ride scheme, so we were able to leave the car on the outskirts of the city, and head into town by bus. Our ticket from the driver was a two-to-go same day return, for £4.80 paid by contactless card (they also take cash).
Monday. A drive out to Wallingford, the setting for the fictional Causton in Midsomer Murders. Drive back via Dorchester on Thames, a pretty little village off the main A-road, and Abingdon where we enjoyed a stroll and a picnic along the banks of the River Thames.
Tuesday. An excellent guided walking tour from the information centre, covering the history of the university, colleges and city, and lasting for around 2 hours.
Followed by a lovely lunch at the Turf Tavern, an ancient pub tucked away down the narrow St Helen’s Passage, which is an almost invisible opening between tall buildings a few yards beyond the Bridge of Sighs on New College Lane. The site of the pub dates back to 1381.
Wednesday. A short drive out to the Roman Villa at North Leigh. Ground-level remains of the buildings on one side of the original courtyard, and a preserved floor mosaic in a small covering building. Then on to the nearby Wychwood Brewery at Witney, for some essential souvenir shopping!
Back into Oxford, where we visited the Oxford Botanical Gardens at the end of the High Street, and adjacent to the river where people were punting in brightly coloured boats. Some interesting displays, particularly the contemporary medicinal plants section. But rather smaller an attraction than I had imagined it might be.
Thursday. Our highlight of the week – a visit to the Ashmolean Museum. The museum is free admission, with a suggested donation of £5 per person which we happily paid. The museum extends to several floors from (-1) through to (4), all covering Art and Archaeology. Our interests focus on ancient history around the world, so we confined ourselves to floors (-1) Exploring the past, (G) Ancient World and (1) Asian Crossroads. Other floors covered Western art meeting the East, European art from 1800 to the present day, and special exhibitions.
Friday. A chance to explore Oxford Castle and Prison Unlocked, set in the former prison where there are still some remnants of the original castle dating back to the time of the Norman conquest.
Then in the evening, a lovely meal at the Thaikhun restaurant to finish our week off, followed by one last evening stroll around some of the sights.