Getting Settled in Oxford

 

We arrived to Heathrow airport on Monday September 12th in the early afternoon. We were amazed at the customs procedure. There were several entry stations where you enter singly and put your open passport in a scanner while a camera takes your photo. After the scan, if no red flags pop up, you proceed to the baggage claim area. No human interaction at this point. We were flabbergasted but happy with the streamlined procedure. Next we followed the signs to baggage claim and waited for our bags to appear on the moving belt. Again we were happy to see them both appear and then we looked for signs for the central bus station located at Heathrow Terminal 3 . It was a long walk and when we found the bus station we looked for the The Airline Bus, Oxford. The first bus we spotted was with a cranky bus driver who felt his bus was full but a few stalls down there was another bus with a happy bus driver ready to take our bags and let us know a return ticket would save us money. On board and ready to go. The journey would take at least 80 minutes with the stops involved along the way. When we got to Oxford it was a prime traffic time so the journey took longer. We got off the bus and got our luggage and proceeded to find our apartment. Our Airbnb hostess gave us great directions and instructions. It was only 0.2 miles to our apartment from the bus station.

To get into the apartment complex we had to enter a security code for the door to open.

We found our apartment and entered another code to get the key from a lock box. In and ready to dump our bags and settle in before we headed out to find a pub for a meal.

We found our way to New Inn Hall Street heading for St. Michael Street to find The Plough Pub on Cornmarket and St. Michael Street.

The Plough was closed so we headed back a few businesses on St. Michael to the Three Goats Head Pub. We found a table and placed our order.

We both enjoyed a Steak and Ale Pie and we had a conversation with a couple from Finland. Maybe half a conversation as we both tried to get beyond a language barrier.

On the way back we discovered a connection to the Wesley family on New Inn Hall Street.

Walking back on St. Michael you can see the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church on New Inn Hall Road.

Oxford is full of connections to the Wesley family. John and Charles Wesley followed their elder brother Samuel to Christ Church; their father, also Samuel, was a student at Exeter College; and their grandfather John studied at New Inn Hall (from which New Inn Hall Street takes its name).

If you follow this link you will find some interesting history of the Wesley family in Oxford and beyond.

On the same road we passed St. Peter’s College.

This was the apartment building where our airbnb apartment was located on the Oxford Castle and Prison location (part ruined Norman Castle).  The Swan and Castle is a pub in the Wetherspoon Pub chain. A cheaper pub that is open from 9am until 1pm. We weren’t aware of this fact before we booked our apartment. This wasn’t the type of pub we would choose.

The second balcony up is our apartment. Outside tables were situated below our balcony and windows. The drinking age in the UK is 18 and because this pub was one of the cheaper pubs many young people congregated to drink and smoke and enjoy themselves loudly each night. OYE. Such a nice apartment in a wonderful location with this downside. Thankfully we packed earplugs and there was a fan in our bedroom that we utilized for white noise. It was quiet from 2am until 8am so that was a plus. We decided to go with the flow and enjoy the upside to this apartment and not get in a snit about the downside.

Looking out our apartment window we said goodnight to our first day in the United Kingdom.

Back to the present we are getting more acclimated and feeling less tired. Hopefully we’ll be able to sleep longer into the morning, too.

Good to be Home

We left the other side of the mountains for our 5 plus hour drive Monday at 3:15 am because sadly we both woke up earlier and couldn’t get back to sleep. We are recuperating and trying to get our internal clocks back in sync with the West Coast. It’s not easy. My head feels like stone. When the creative side of my brain starts working again I’ll start on my posts from Oxford and beyond. Thank you for your visits and following along on our trip.

Our Colville kids stopped by for a short visit and it was so good to get hugs from our grands.

On the highway home we spotted Fall colors and changing leaves. Soon those leaves will be falling. Hope all is well in your corners. Praying for those of you who have storms coming your way and for our friends on Prince Edward Island that their power will be restored soon!

Back in the USA!

We said our goodbyes to our British friends and made the journey home on Saturday. Our flight took an hour longer than usual because of weather over Greenland that diverted our flight path over Canada instead of the arctic path, 10 hours instead of 9. Customs in both London and in Seattle have really been simplified. We are resting up at our ‘Coast Kids’ home. Thankful that they could pick us up at the airport and house us. We will be driving the 5ish hours home on Monday. Looking forward to being home again soon.

Keble College Chapel

Hands down Keble College Chapel was the most impressive chapel of the Oxford Colleges we visited. We did not see all of the college chapels. I might have a few posts about the Keble Chapel in the near future. On our last full day in England, today Friday the 23rd of September, we checked out of our hotel in Woodstock, took a taxi to our lodging in Oxford and dumped our luggage there at 10:30 am. Their check in time is 4pm. This taxi ride was our favorite with a friendly driver who actually interacted with us. We walked and walked and walked some more. We went to the Museum of Natural History. We walked through University Park to the Cherwell where we saw a bench dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien, we visited the Balliol Chapel (the only thing open to visitors on the campus). We headed to our favorite pub in Oxford…home away from home, the Turf Tavern where we enjoyed a conversation with a mum and daughter from Canada. We walked toward Keble College and were happy that we could view the chapel for no charge. I took many photos in this amazing chapel. We were so happy that we took the time and that they were open to visitors on this day. We still had time to kill before we could check in so we walked to Little Clarendon Street to return to Gail’s Bakery for some evening treats for our hotel room. Back to our hotel and able to check in at 3:30. Happy for that since our feet had had enough of walking on uneven and cobbled streets. So happy to report we did not huff and puff on this trip. Our conditioning was good and it was just feet and knees that complained not our lungs or hearts! Woohoo!!

We are flying home tomorrow so no updates until possibly Monday. Cheers!

Sneak Peek to Blenheim

Today Thursday the 22nd of September and the first day of Autumn we walked our feet off. After our hotel breakfast at 7am we walked to a free entrance to Blenheim Palace grounds only to find out the paths we wanted to take were closed and restricted because of work being done with dredging in the lake. We walked around the restricted paths and found our way to the Harry Potter Tree which I will post about later. Back to town and showers and lunch and then back to Blenheim grounds for a ticket to tour the grounds. On Friday we are heading back to Oxford for our last night in the United Kingdom.

Tea for Two

On Wednesday we checked out of our apartment in Oxford and took a taxi to Woodstock to check into our hotel for  Wednesday and Thursday night. For curious minds the taxi was about 30 bucks. We could have taken a bus except with our luggage that would have been too taxing on us. We checked our luggage at the hotel and took a walk about the town. We had a nice lunch with a very jovial host at The King’s Arms where we met another U.S. family enjoying Woodstock. Later in the afternoon after getting the key to our room we had our first Afternoon Tea on at The Feathers Hotel in Woodstock. It’s interesting when our lodgings want you to check out by 10am and then your next lodging won’t want you to check in till 4PM. The hotel did let us check into our room at 2 instead of 4 since our room was ready. Our tea reservation was at 4:30. Afterwards we had a nice walk to the outskirts of town to catch a glimpse of Blenheim Palace.

Goodnight from Woodstock!

Oxford Colleges

Just a glimpse with so much more to come.

Magdalen College taken from Addison’s Walk.

On Tuesday September 20th we walked to a breakfast spot on George Street. We then headed to Christ Church College to make some purchases at the Gift shop. We also walked over to the Thames Valley Police Station to find the plaque on the wall to Inspector Morse. We tried with not a lot of success to make it into several colleges. We ended up with only two colleges open to us at the right time, Magdalen (pronounced Maudlin) and All Souls College.

Tomorrow we check out of our Airbnb and head to Woodstock for a couple of nights. Looking forward to a hotel stay with breakfast included.

A Sunday Roast

My postcard for today after the Queen’s funeral yesterday is my Sunday Lamb Roast from the Turf Tavern. Roasts typically are only offered on Sundays at Pubs and restaurants. The Turf had a choice of Beef, Lamb or Chicken. Dear picked the Lamb for me, delicious. Besides the meat portion you get veggies, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Dear opted for fish and chips instead of a Roast.

We spent the whole day yesterday watching the telly with absolutely no commercials or interruptions of the ceremony and processionals. We started watching at 7am up until the late afternoon with a quick break to run down for a quick fish and chips break. Wonderful coverage and commentary here.

Today, Tuesday, we will be out and about again trying to visit as many colleges as we can before we check out tomorrow at 10am and head to Woodstock for a couple of nights.

Quiet Today…

Today Monday September 19th should be a quieter day here because of the Queen’s funeral and it being a bank holiday here in the United Kingdom.

We stocked up on picnic supplies to enjoy in our apartment today during the funeral televised on the major channels here.

Grocery stores are closed today. Some of the other businesses will have open hours today. We are going to have an off day today just relaxing in our apartment, eating up what we have on hand. Curious as to what we purchased? Well let me tell you anyway. We have a beautiful loaf of Rosemary Sour Dough bread we purchased at the amazing Gail’s Bakery. We have a lovely Pear tartlet and Strawberry tart with custard we purchased at Paul Bakery. We have salami, cheese, olives & feta combo, avocado, grapes, tomatoes purchased at Sainsbury. We won’t starve.

Later I’ll share about the nice Sunday we had worshipping at a church service here in Oxford and our other Sunday experiences.

Self Guided Tour

Lot of walking again today with a walking tour book I bought for Oxford. Walked into the Jericho area of Oxford and along the canal. Visited a church, a cemetery. We wanted Fish and Chips and found out several pubs were out of fish and chips!  The Lamb and Flag was closed due to refurbishing. The Eagle and Child has been closed for over 2 years now. Both of these pubs have history with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Today is open day in Oxford for prospective Freshmen and the town was buzzing with parents and students checking out the colleges, and eating all the fish and chips! We finally dropped off our bag of goodies we bought along the way to the apartment and headed to The Turf Tavern again and they had Fish and Chips. This is fast becoming our favorite and go to establishment. Mission accomplished, back to the apartment with our feet up!