Monday, August 29, 2016

Oxford Adventures

These are notes that were originally posted on Facebook and I've copied and pasted them here for you to enjoy.  I've had trouble getting my computer online and have finally managed to connect.

 Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Left London today...back to Gatwick Airport to pick up our Enterprise rental....a much smaller car than last much easier to drive on these tiny slivers that they call roads.  We headed north around London and stopped near Reading to visit Grey's Court.  A country manor that dates back to the 11th century.  A nice break on our drive to Oxford where we finally arrived about 4 pm .    We are navigating using my cell phone and every time she says "rerouting"....we know we've missed a turn.   Street signs are almost none existent .

But we work together, hug the shrubs on the left side of the road and breathe a sigh of relief when we arrive.

We have four short flights of stairs to our garret  bedroom with a very.modern bathroom.  We've settled a/c or tv...but a view from the windows.  We do have a table which will make playing cards easier.  We're here for 9 nights.
Tomorrow we're walking to the Ashmolean. ..the oldest university museum in the world...per Mr. Jim.

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

It rained all night but we had a beautifully clear day until our hour long drive home at the end of the day in the rain and all on country roads.
Our day began at breakfast when we discovered that one of the neighbors on our block is none other than Desmond Morris...the author of "The Naked Ape" back in 1967....number one in the book sales then.  He is now 88 years old but still traveling and now painting.
Soon we were in the car and headed north west to the country manor known as Waddesdon Manor.  Built by a Rothschild in the 19th century to showcase his wealth when entertaining his guests; it appears as a French Chateau plucked out of the Lorie Valley and dropped in the middle of the English countryside.  Fabulous gardens and a very good aviary with unusual birds.  The wine cellar was filled with wine from their winery estates in France.
Our second country manor was half an hour further down the road and also is owned by another branch of the Rothschild family.  This one is still lived in by members of the family and we only toured in the downstairs living areas.  But this is a hunting lodge and English Tudor in style. We enjoyed this home as much if not more than Waddesdon .
We attempted to find Mentmore Towers which was less than five miles.  We actually saw the tops of the towers as we approached the area but as we got closer...we couldn't see anything.  We did find the gate but they told us that no one is allowed in.  This has been the location of many movies...including Batman for Bruce Wayne's home in Gotham City.  Oh well....back to Oxford where we walked to Summertown for a very fancy Chinese dinner.  About a mile down  the road.  Great day....stay tuned for tomorrow's adventure!

Friday, August 26th, 2016

We are enjoying our stay on Banbury Road in Oxford.  The photos are of our lodging for our 9 nights in this very old university town north of London.  We have 4 short flights of stairs to the condo.  Once inside we have the owners living quarters and the kitchen where she serves us breakfast and conversation each morning.  Then we have a steep curved set of stairs to our bedroom and bath.  I've also included some views from our windows.  We've discovered a tiny air conditioner that sits on the table and is cooler than a fan.  We've had some very warm days.  Fortunately the bugs are almost non existent so we have the windows open.  No screens which is extremely common in all of Europe.  Great place and walking distance to the city center and many restaurants.

Yesterday was another great adventure. We drove north to Northampton and then to Althorp; the home of Princess Diana as a child, and her final resting place. The estate is managed by her brother the 9th Earl of Spencer. The nineteenth generation of Spencers who have lived on this property for five hundred years. It was a long walk from the parking lot but a beautiful day full of sunshine. We had a one hour tour of the house with a young lady who was witty and knowledgeable about the history of the family and the house. Afterwards we walked around the lake to view the island in the middle where Diana was laid to rest and on the far side a visit to the memorial.
On the way out we stopped in the village attached to the estate and visited the very old church where the Spencers are buried. There was a son years ago who became a minister and was assigned to this church until he became a Catholic priest. His mother wore black for her remaining days as her child was the same as dead to her! The news is that he "may" be a saint someday.
From the church we headed back toward Oxford....passing the Silverstone Racetrack along the way. Continued past Oxford and stopped at the village of Bampton. Famous for being used as a location for the television series "Downton Abbey". The church is especially popular for weddings now and they were preparing it for one while we were there.
After two hours of driving I had one thing on my mind when we walked into the local pub....and the three gents at the bar caught me by surprise when they asked me for the name of my favorite song? Lots of fun and Jim stood back and watched. We ordered a pint of Guineas each....but it was only 5 pm and too early for food. I quickly asked where the facilities were before we sat down to enjoy our beer. One of the three men joined us and starting talking about his trip to Pebble Beach with his boss when they won several awards for the Royals Royce they'd restored. He owned 15 of his own cars....not royals Royce... that he loved telling us about. Also...the boss is a cousin of the movie star Ralph Fiennes.
We finally said goodbye and headed to the next village for some dinner and a second pint of Guineas and then very carefully drove the twenty miles back to Oxford. I decided to save the story for later and went to bed early.

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Today was going to be a day off for me but after breakfast we took the car out to add petrol. Found that most of the in town stations have disappeared and you have to go out on the highways. Once back to our lodgings I decided to walk to city center with Jim who was going back to the Ashmolean Museum. I left him there and continued down into the oldest section to visit Christ Church Cathedral. Once I'd arrived I knew that Jim would really love visiting it also so I walked back to the Museum and waited for him to finish. Then together we walked back and thoroughly enjoyed visiting one of the oldest buildings in Oxford. Built in the 12th century by Cardinal Wolsey, it is both one of the smallest Anglican Cathedrals in England but is also a college Chapel as it sits in the center Christ Church College. It sits along side the Thames River...very narrow at this point. We had an early rain...was not due until 4 pm....with lightening and thunder. The storm has continued on and off all afternoon. We managed to walk home between drops. We're planning to attend the 6:30 Mass at Black Fairs Church and are going to attempt to ride the bus at least one way. It is about a block before the Ashmolean Museum. Tomorrow is another day of driving as we're visiting Cambridge and then another manor just north of there.

A nice evening...Rain quit about 5 pm so we walked towards town to Black Friars Hall for 6:15 mass; Dominican priests said the mass in this permanent Hall that is part of the University of Oxford. We each walked over six miles today by the time we returned home after mass.
We found out from our hostess this afternoon that the main staircase of Christ Church College was used in the Harry Potter's film for the Hogwarts School and the dining room was the model...they recreated it as it would have been too difficult to remove all of the many paintings you saw on the walls in my photos. Thought some of you might be Harry Potter fans. We played a hand and foot card game this evening and Jim won for the second night in a row. It's called no television. But we enjoyed wine and chocolate as we played cards.

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