I’m jumping well ahead on our journey by telling this, but it’s a significant moment for this blog. Today we went to Oxford and had lunch at The Eagle and Child. This has been a long time coming. A couple of pictures:
Oxford is a beautiful city–at least the old part of it where we spent the day. There are so many beautiful old buildings there I didn’t know where to start taking pictures, so I took almost none. We got there at about 9:30a.m. Toni dropped us off in front of The Eagle and Child (we picked up our rental car today–a Mercedes! We were supposed to get a Ford Focus) and we walked into the city centre, which is full of shops. Then we had lunch at The Eagle and Child. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either, but that didn’t matter–we were at The Eagle and Child and I had a pint in Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ honour.
The table we sat at had all the plaques and pictures of Tolkien and Lewis and the rest of the Inklings (in the Rabbit Room), but I’m not sure if that’s the room they actually sat in or not. The pub goes much farther back and judging by the stone wall outside may have done so lo these many years (unless they expanded into another shop).
After lunch we intended to head north and then walk a loop east and then down along the river and then back west, passing by Magdalen (‘Modlin’) College, Merton College and Christ Church, which I believe all have some connection to Tolkien or Lewis. Christ Church, at any rate, appears to be one of the more beautiful buildings of the university, as it is depicted on postcards and whatnot. But the rain was coming down steadily and shortly after we had set out we realized that if we did this walk without an umbrella we would be soaked to the bone by the end of it. So we found a shorter route back to the city centre to find an umbrella.
We stopped at Blackwood’s Books on the way. Stepping inside it looks like an ordinary bookstore, but downstairs it impressively expands into a vast storehouse of books that covers much more area than the building stands on. I’ve never been in a bookstore this impressive in terms of size as well as holdings. It was worth a look, but by the time we found an umbrella, we figured we’d better find our car rental place first–and glad we did, because it was much farther to walk than expected. At the car rental place, I inquired about the restricted-access roads on the map of Oxford. Buses and pedestrians only. To reach these places by car, we’d have to drive all sorts of convoluted routes and back alleys and walking was too far this time of the day, so we decided to skip it. It’s a shame in a way that we were in Oxford for a whole day and didn’t see those famous buildings, but then there are university buildings peppered across the whole old city, so we did see many beautiful college buildings.
Tomorrow we drive to Bath.