Monday, February 14, 2011

Atmospheric exploration

If it weren't for the weather I think I could happily live in Oxford. When you come from a country that's just over 200 years old it's absolutely astounding to visit places that have buildings about 1000 years old. There is so much history in this city, particularly surrounding the university (obviously) and it's delightful to meander around and wonder who else's feet have trodden the same paths. Yesterday was a beautiful day, and silly old me chose to spend a couple of hours in a museum rather than out and about. That being said, the Natural History museum is my kind of Disneyland and it's entirely possible that I could spend years exploring it.

I'd been told that the Pitt Rivers Museum was a must see and that you had to walk through the main museum to get to it. It's hiding up the back and it's an overwhelmingly wonderful collection. Apparently there are 250,000 odd pieces, 150,000 of which are on display.

There was one thing in particular I was looking for, and it was such fun ducking and weaving through all the artifacts, until I finally found...

the shrunken heads!! Terrifically interesting and macabre. There was also a special photo exhibition on Wilfred Thesinger, dubbed "the last gentleman explorer", in particular his years in Africa. He spent many many decades living with different tribes in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya (among others) and the photos are really interesting. Eventually I'll track down the book about him as I reckon it would be a great read.

Last night I was able to catch up with my crazy friend Adam, who you may recall played a major role in starting this blog. He's studying outside London so it was a good excuse for him to put down the books and come spend the night in Oxford.

Today, in the dreary, drizzling cold after dropping Adam at the bus station I decided to do a walking tour (to cheer myself up I decided it was "atmospheric exploration") run by Oxford Walking Tours, which was fantastic. There were few places from the Harry Potter films, perhaps most randomly the tree under which Malfoy gets turned into a ferret by Professor Moody in #3:

We went into lots of different colleges and churches and libraries. I particularly liked the Radcliffe Camera

and found the colleges to be interesting places. Perhaps if I'd lived somewhere as beautiful as this

instead of the ghastly twin towers of Fenner Hall I might have been a better scholar! :-) Our guide snuck us into the tiny little church inside Lincoln College where a string quartet were utilising the acoustics.

This beautiful little church (I know that's not the proper word but for the life of me I can't think of it - chapel? rectory?) is the only one in Oxford that is completely original; hundreds and hundreds of years old and all that's changed is some lighting in the pews.

I regret not walking around more yesterday when it was sunny and warm(er) and I wish I had more time to explore Oxford. I'm off to Mexico for my first deployment next weekend but I'm not exactly sure what date. So I might have another day to explore or I might not. Either way, I'll be looking forward to my next visit here to see much much more!

All of the photos are up here.

3 comments:

  1. tsk tsk carly, you're getting soft in your old age: someone !=somewhere :)

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  2. ah Steve, I've been including typos in various posts on purpose for ages to entice you out of your cave!!! ;-)

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  3. Australia isn't 'just over 200 years old'! Homo sapiens has been in Australia for about the same length of time as it has been in Britain. Obviously there are no buildings from before 1788, but that's not an indication that the country is not old, is it? This all obviously depends how you define 'country', though my purpose of raising this issue goes beyond the merely semantic.
    PS. That Harry Potter actor has done well to have a building named after him, hasn't he?

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