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A Weekend in Oxford

6 April, 2011

It’s been very quiet on the writing front for me recently. I’m mostly just editing, reading and doing a lot of thinking about what I want to work on next. The rest of my life has been quite busy though, and last weekend my partner and I spent a lovely few days in Oxford. Our main reason for choosing Oxford as our holiday destination was because I wanted to visit the Ashmolean Museum, so let’s start there.

The Ashmolean is a museum of art and archaeology and has recently undergone a massive refurbishment. It feels a lot like the British Museum (my favourite museum, in fact) both inside and out, with each room focussing on a specific place and time period. It was fantastic to see a number of archaeological pieces that I studied at uni, but also great to see exhibits from completely different cultures (I was, as ever, completely enamoured with the Japanese brush paintings and ceramics).

Also, while we were there, this happened. This being a flashmob opera event in the Ashmolean’s Atrium, for anyone who doesn’t want to follow the link. Very unexpected and a lot of fun, even for someone (read: me) who doesn’t know the first thing about opera. And, in the internet tradition of ‘pictures or it didn’t happen’, here’s myself and Ash watching the singing (we’re bang in the middle, looking slightly bemused):

This was, I believe, taken by one of the singers, and you can find more pictures of the event over at Facebook.

So, what about the rest of Oxford? Well, as a whole, it’s a very attractive city and we spent a lot of time wandering round, enjoying the numerous shops and cafes, and admiring the architecture. There’s certainly a lot of architecture to admire, particularly around the colleges, churches and libraries. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many historic buildings crammed into one city centre, from so many different periods – or at least, in so many different styles. We didn’t go into any of the colleges, but it was fun to peer through the gateways. They give a feeling of looking into a very different, very cloistered world, where everything is orderly and the grass is always jewel-green. (This might have been helped by the fact that there were very few students around – it being the holidays – to clutter up the place.) We even, whilst walking one evening, saw a number of rowers practising on the river, which just seemed like the most quintessentially Oxfordian thing we could hope to see.

Finally, a word for the hotel we stayed in: the Remont. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a reasonably priced, stylish place to stay. The rooms were lovely, the breakfast delicious, the staff friendly. All in all, a very relaxing place to return to after tramping round the city all day.

On our last day, we paid a visit to Stowe Park Gardens, but as this post is getting long, I’ll write about that later. For now: Oxford. Lovely city, lots to see and quite unlike any other British city I’ve visited.


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