Time for another quick UK day trip. This time the destination was Oxford, and a few surrounding areas. The trip down took less than 2 hours so it was a very doable day trip. Tara did all the planning for this trip so she gets all the credit. In addition to Oxford, we went to the Hidcote gardens, Chipping Campden, and the Fleece Inn pub. Man, do I sound British or what.
First up on the agenda was the oldest English speaking university in the world: Oxford. Don’t get too excited just yet. If you are waiting to see a picturesque ivy covered college (university) campus, you may have to actually enroll in the college. From what we could gather, the campus seemed very close, but very separated from the town itself. If you looked at Google maps, it would appear like we were in the middle of campus, but in reality, we were just on a street and all you could see were the front of buildings. We did end up paying a few pounds to go inside one of the “colleges” and check it out to get the full experience. It was not like a typical US college, but I guess they probably have it setup that way for a reason. You wouldn’t want tour busses full of foreigners trudging all over your grass and getting in the way of your learning.
Oxford is famous for “Punting”, which means navigating a boat using a long stick to push yourself along the waterway by means of the bottom of the floor of the riverbed. You could “hire” a boat for 20 GPB for an hour, but we had enough fun watching all these people struggle to navigate the river.
After we figured out that you couldn’t actually get on to campus, we paid a few pounds to get inside one of the colleges. The one we found turned out to be the oldest college on campus, founded in 1249. It was called University College, which is not a very original name. Some others are called: Corpus Christi, Exeter, Kellogg, Magdelen, and Wolfson. I later figured out that there are 38 “colleges” within Oxford. Colleges are basically mini communities that have their own coat of arms, name, dorms, etc…… Is anyone else thinking that Oxford copied the structure of Hogwarts Academy for Wizards?
After we got our fill of colleges and punting, we headed out in search of lavender. Tara figured out that we were at the very tail end of lavender season. This area of England is really famous for having vast fields of bright purple lavender. Since we were at the tail end of the season, we did not find these fields. We went to a lavender farm and found the last bit of lavender that hadn’t already been harvested. I made sure to angle the photos so that it looked like we were in a huge field.
Next up was the Hidcote Gardens, which is a National Trust site. Tara figured this out as well. This place was a massive outdoor garden with all sorts of different plants and whatnot. I agree that this sounds lame, but it wasn’t too bad. The weather was great, all of the plants were in bloom, and I got some cool pictures with macro mode. Before we started exploring the gardens, we decided to get some afternoon tea. This turned out to be a horrible idea because we attracted a swarm of a dozen wasps to our food. It was awful. I quickly scarfed down my cake to avoid the bees. Tara eats at the speed of molasses so she was a prime target for the hungry wasps. She was really stressing out, and I don’t blame her. In fact, a nearby British lady noticed how bad she was struggling and actually came over, shooed the bees away, prepared Tara’s scone, and gave her some words of encouragement. That kept the bees at bay for about 30 seconds. Tara eventually gave up and we headed into the gardens.
We found some old school tennis racquets and a free court to hit some balls on. These older wooden racquets had a lot less pop to them.
After Hidcote, we headed for the historic town of Chipping Campden. It’s a historic Cotswolds market town with picturesque buildings and whatnot. We got lucky and found free parking at the entrance to the Cotswold Way, which is a 102 mile walking trail that spans from Chipping Campden to Bath. We walked a portion of it with Jeff and Kerry on our last UK road trip together. I wonder if they still read our blog now that they are back in the USA. Anyway, back to the pictures. Here are some Chipping Campden shots:
After exploring the old city, we made our way to a nearby famous pub called the Fleece Inn. A few of Tara’s work mates knew this place and recommended it for its food, beer and atmosphere. It was a pub inside an old farmhouse and it was a nice way to end the day.
Welp, that sums up our little day trip to Oxford and the Cotswolds. Until next time.