Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oxford, UK

Oxford, standing in front of the "Radcliffe Camera," the historic and not very old (only 1800's) science building. Part of many colleges that make up Oxford. I'm not sure yet which one Bill Clinton attended but will hopefully find out before I finish this post.

To the right of the "Camera." Expecting Monty Python of Spamelot to come clopping out at any moment.

The very large Hotel Randolph owned and run by the Scottish MacDonalds family in the center of town- very plush.

Inside one of the lounges of the Hotel is this painting, done hundreds of years ago and looking very similar to one my father (from Scotland) painted of a Vermont trout stream. Scots love their trout.

Yes, this is an actual street sign in Oxford and no, I'm not sure what it means, but hey, it's England.
Never far from being reminded of home.

We had lunch in a small pub near Woodstock Road that was once the weekly meeting place for C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. They would sit in front of the fire on Tuesdays and talk for hours, eating lunch and drinking beer, whiskey and tea. They both signed several letters to the owner thanking him for his indulgence (holding a tab?) and they hang over the fireplace in the small room in which they met. I believe it was called the "Rabbit Hole."

Outside of a section of the Great Cathedral of Oxford, which was closed for the Holidays like most of the rest of the city (I like the vines). We joined groups of wandering tourists looking for something to see besides pubs and clothing stores. The Center of the city is essentially one huge shopping center with no traffic, all pedestrian, and huge throngs of shoppers everywhere-it was "Boxing Day" which is the traditional sales day of the year in England.
A mob scene.
An ancient house on one of the back streets.

One of many Radcliffe Camera wrought iron doors-I like the gold leaf.

Inside the Oxford Botanical Garden
Boats parked under the bridge outside the Botanical Garden on the River "Isis" which is actually the Thames but is only called the "Isis" when it runs through Oxford. Many very large and old trees, huge terrariums and greenhouses with desert climates and tropical climates. Plants collected from all over the world-many orchids. One of the only places open during this weekend.
This fountain was frozen- a very rare occurrence here. Global Warming?
 Greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens

A typical 250 year old  with a typical 42 year old. 

Close up of "cut" ties in Oxford's oldest Pub, The Bear Tavern.


Oxford's oldest Pub, "The Bear Tavern" has a tradition dating back centuries involving college students drinking themselves under the table literally and passing out-at which point the barkeep comes over and cuts off the end of their tie and keeps it behind the bar until they wake up the next morning and realize they've had their tie cut. They are then supposed to come back to the bar and "sign" the end whereby it is put in a nifty glass case (with their name attached). I, of course, went looking for Bill Clinton's.
Is it here?

Or here??
 Needless to say, there were so many cut ties in this place, thousands, I could not find Bill's. I said to the barkeep-"I'm here looking for Bill Clinton's tie." His answer was "Good luck, mate."

Here's the wikipedia link to Oxford. Invaded by the Normans in 1066, about the time Malmesbury was getting sacked.  Lots of history here.

A spire in the "City of Spires."
I liked the carved heads on this building-too many to fit in one frame.
 Finally, Bill Clinton attended University College at Oxford and also played rugby there. He did not get his degree in Oxford however. If anyone does happen to find his tie at the Bear Tavern, please let me know. Maybe it's now in the Clinton Library? Good luck, mate.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael - what a gas; I know you have long ago moved on from here but Carey will be cross that you visited Oxford instead of Cambridge. A "humped zebra crossing" is just a zebra crossing on wide speed bump. And of course I am sure you know a black and white striped pedestrian crossing is called a zebra crossing.

    xxClaire (Harrison Lambe)