One of our favorite places in the world is Oxford, “the city of dreaming spires.” I visited my friend Laura in Oxford when she was a student there, and then I returned as a summer university student about 10 years ago. Elliott has also visited twice, and we each have our own memories and our own favorite places around the city.
Also, has anyone else read A Severe Mercy, part of which takes place in Oxford? We read it together when we first started dating, and it is a book that we reference often as our inspiration for a tender and adventurous marriage.
We decided to go to Oxford on our second day in England, on Friday, April 8th. We stayed on our feet almost all day and managed to see a lot of this beautiful place!
First stop: the local library. This was unintended; we got off the bus at the wrong stop — whoops. But we needed wifi in order to orient ourselves. (Later that day we bought SIM cards for our iPhones and now have U.K. phone numbers and data. We’re European locals again for a few weeks!)
At The Eagle and Child pub for lunch with my own littlest child.
We enjoyed following in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and the other “Inklings” to eat and talk at this pub, but we found more Americans here than anywhere else in Oxford. It’s more of a tourist attraction now, I suppose… oh well.
Around the corner from the pub is the Ashmolean Museum, where the kids saw their first Egyptian mummies and enjoyed the beautiful children’s section.
We adults paid £2 each to go inside the private grounds of Balliol College, one of the many colleges that make up Oxford University. The gardens were in gorgeous spring bloom! It was a perfect spring day, and we ended up staying for over an hour, exploring and then relaxing on the grass. Visiting Balliol is one of my favorite memories of our trip so far. These are a few of my favorite photos (out of about 100!).
After Balliol, we walked across the street to visit Blackwell’s, a huge and incredible bookshop. When I was a summer student, I spent many hours studying and reading inside the Classics section or the cafe there.
We walked on to Christ Church Meadow on our way to visit Magdalen College. The kids were enjoying a precious hot chocolate that Elliott had purchased for them in Blackwell’s. He rarely buys them anything sweet, so they were savoring every sip!
We walked through the grounds to the meadow behind the college. The story goes that Lewis and Tolkien used to walk together around the meadow here, feet crunching on the path as they discussed faith and life.
Magdalen College’s boats being gathered up for the night. I wish we could have hired a punt boat and taken the kids around the River Cherwell in the meadow; I have fond memories of doing that with friends as a summer student. We’ll have to save that for next time… maybe when they can all swim!
And that was the end of our lovely day in Oxford. Have you been? Which little nooks and crannies are your favorites?