Oxonian for life!

Hey, you! Yes, I’m talking to you, my precious! October is finally here and Halloween is almost upon us! I don’t know if you have any plans of wild partying and/or trick or treating, but I do hope that you will enjoy the second month of autumn to the fullest! It’s such a lovely time to be in London, I think, as the colours of autumn really do suit London. Today though I’m going to talk to you about Oxford, which is such a beautiful place to go, no matter the weather!

The good thing about Oxford is that it’s so close to London that you can visit whenever and still be back within a reasonable time. The bad thing about Oxford is that it’s so close to London, as well! While you will not encounter the London weekend crowds, it’s still going to be full of people, especially during the weekend. People aside though, Oxford is such a nice place to get lost at! Centuries of history and one of the best universities in the world call home this little place on the map, called Oxford. I truly envy the Oxonians and that’s a fact!

I first visited Oxford some years ago (to be absolutely honest, it’s been almost 4 years) and I fell in love with the place. The last time I went there was about a week ago, because I wanted to visit the Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean. The funny thing is that we ended up NOT visiting this exhibition, but instead went on to another exhibition, even more spectacular, if I may. And that is Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth! Yes, I realise by now that this will be the third blog post with something about Tolkien, but he is one of my favourites! Can you really blame me?

So, to properly start from the beginning, my trip this time started from Reading and not from London. We loved the train trip as it was less than 30 minutes and it costs less than £10! How cool is that?! Anyway, even if we didn’t walk a lot around Oxford, there are still some places I loved and no matter how many times I’ll visit in the future, I’ll make a point of stopping there! The first is, of course the university’s main library, the Bodleian. This one is in fact the main research library of the University of Oxford. Right there at the Schools Quadrangle, you can find some doorways that have unique signs, as they appear in Latin! It makes sense though because Latin was the language of the academia and academic education four centuries ago.

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Right next to the Old Bodleian, you can find the Radcliffe Camera, a beautiful and majestic building, which housed (what else?) the Radcliffe Science Library. I haven’t managed to get inside yet, but dum spiro spero, isn’t that right? For my friends that don’t speak/know Latin, dum spiro spero means while I breathe, I hope. Sorry for sounding just a bit cocky here, but I just love my Latin and it’s always nice to remember them. Going back to the Radcliffe Camera, just a word of warning! If you are wearing heels, or even ankle boots with a bit of a heel, I’d suggest not trying to navigate through. The road is paved with stones, only the sidewalk is okay, so unless you have someone to hold on to, this is a big no!

Another place I visited that I’ve never been there before is St. Mary’s Church. I think everyone needs to visit this church, as the stained glass windows are some of the best I’ve seen in my life. It is quite old as well, as the first church built there was around the 12th century. It is still a place of worship with regular services, sermons and even home to concerts throughout the year. Of course, the most fascinating thing for me was the organ, which you can hear live during Sunday afternoons in August.

I think though the best part of this recent Oxford trip is our visit to the Tolkien exhibition at the Weston Library. The exhibition showcases Tolkien’s most famous works, such as The Lord of The Rings, the Hobbit and lesser known ones, such as the Silmarillion. You can even find a Greek translation of the Silmarillion in there! There are draft manuscripts, illustrations and some Times crosswords with hand-drawn images. You can see Tolkien’s writing desk and his collection of pipes among the items displayed. If you haven’t visited yet, please do hurry, as the exhibition will be running until the 28th October. While you are there, do not forget to also go to the Eagle and Child in St. Giles’ Street. It is a pub frequented in the past by the likes of Tolkien and Lewis! Can you imagine that the first concepts of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings may have well been conceived there?

For geeks or history buffs, students or lonely souls, Oxford is just the place to be! You can have a full day of it and still not experience the city to the maximum. Just whatever you do, have fun with it! As for me, when I visit next the Ashmolean, I’ll give you an update worth remembering!

Till next time,

Sofia-Maria

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