Thursday, October 6, 2011

London - Day Eight

Taking the train from Paddington to Oxford in the morning was anything but relaxing.  It was packed with commuters and since I arrived only a few minutes before departure it was standing room only for the first forty minutes of my journey.  I know you'll be shocked to learn that I struck up a conversation with a lovely young lady who was on her way to a business meeting.  We made the best of a very crowded situation as we peeled off layers in the stifling carriage.  But oh the wonder upon arrival once I had walked a few streets away from the train station.  Every sigh, each ooh and aah, every wish for a lottery win whilst watching Inspector Lewis was before my very eyes in full colour and I was mesmerized!  If this were Narnia I would never leave the closet!
Perfectly content to simply let the lanes unfold as they may I gasped when I found myself staring at the iconic Radcliffe Camera.  If Simon or Verity see this then perhaps they can fill us in on whether or not it's still used as a reading room for undergrads since they call the Bodleian their workplace.  Lucky them!  Oh, and I sat here munching on Walnut Coffee Cake while sipping a cup of tea and wondered how my day could possibly be any more perfect.
And then I ended up on New College Lane which led me to "The Bridge of Sighs".  Sometimes it pays to be an ignorant tourist because the feeling of awe I felt when stumbling upon such historic buildings and structures was absolutely thrilling!  Nearby is a tight passage leading to the Turf Tavern featured in Inspector Morse.  Very quaint with a ceiling height not much higher than I stand.  Tall patrons beware!
Simon had drawn me a map to some bookshops which I mistakenly left behind when I switched bags for the day.  Not to worry though, I did find a few to browse in.  This Blackwell shop was wonderfully cosy and popular!  Full of customers shopping for books, meeting friends for coffee, having a bite...I don't know if it was just the fine weather or something in the air but everyone was delighting in their day.
Bicycles are everywhere in Oxford!  This is only a fraction of the number also parked at the train station, there were literally thousands of them.  I for one was pleased and couldn't imagine such pretty roads flooded with cars.

After grabbing a sandwich, some yogurt and a drink from Sainsbury's for a picnic lunch near a churchyard, I wondered what it must be like to call Oxford home.  And how do I go back to my little patch in Burlington with non-descript office buildings and box stores?  Sometimes there is no place like home but on such a gorgeous day in the middle of breathtaking surroundings I wished more than ever that I could just stay right where I was.  Of course R and Deacon would have to pack up and join me!

Making the train before the commuters took it by storm I desperately tried not to end up in a heap in the warm carriage.  The countryside was relaxing and my non-stop travels were starting to take their toll and I still had another stop to make!
Joking with the attendant at the bottom of the stairs that I was visiting to get some ideas for decorating my home, I explored the Wallace Collection.  Opulent furnishings and famous artwork astound at every turn.  Part museum, part art gallery this is the place to visit to see some of the most exquisite examples of craftsmanship in several art forms.  My favourite of the day was Frangonard's The Swing.  While not one of the features on most people's agenda when they mention a trip to London I would implore them to add a visit here.  It is stunning and I will be returning again and again.

My notes ended there so I must have had an early night of drinking tea, enjoying a scone and writing about my day.  My plan to finish Persuasion as part of Rachel's read-along was a failure as the appeal of London and all it has to offer proved too great and I'm too nosy.  With just one more day to bask in the glory of my London wishlist I was happy to hear of another sunny day for strolling Chelsea towards 24 Cheyne Row and the Carlyle's House.


  1. Where do you get your stamina, Darlene! I thought I was a demon sight-seer but Oxford and the Wallace collection all in one day would defeat me!

  2. mary, Hahaha! You're quick! I was doing some editing and your comment popped up.

    I so envy you having all of this available any time you feel like taking yourself there. It might be two years before I get back so every minute counts, there are so many places on my list to see. One day I would love to rent a flat for a month and take some time to breathe in between adventures...that would be lovely!

  3. Yup!! The Radcliffe Camera is the building where Simon and I are sitting at the moment, downstairs, and I'm actually in charge of it! Haha! Upstairs, is a reading room with history collections aimed at undergraduates; downstairs is a reading room with English and theology collections.

    Next time you come, we'll get you a visitors pass and take you around!

    I guess you were in the cafe under the church for your walnut cake? We get a Bodleian staff discount in there so we'll take you there too!

  4. I look forward to your next post, you are certainly packing a lot in on your visit.

    Hopefully when you come back it will be for a month, think what you could pack in. And all the cake we could all eat!

    Nice to see where Verity works as well!

  5. Verity, The cake will be on me after your guided tour. Looking forward to the day and thanks for verifying!

    Jo, There is already a short list started for next time...

  6. Oxford is gorgeous isn't it, and there's something about a sunny early autumn day that just makes it perfect and nostalgic. I spent a fair bit of my undergraduate time in the Rad Cam - the upstairs reading room then has a balcony all the way round the inside which was my haunt of choice.

  7. I've traveled alone before, but you are such a brave and gregarious traveler--I'm not so good at striking up conversations with people I don't know. Oxford looks lovely--I could happily live in a city that loves bicycles as much as they do there!