Oxford Revisited

April 6, 2012

I realise I still owe you that account I promised to give of my trip to Oxford on the weekend of March 24-25. Well, there really isn’t that much to say… As predicted I didn’t get to see too much of the city this time either. The conference I attended took place in one of the newer (read 19th century) colleges located a 15-20 minutes walk outside the centre, and I was staying in the college’s own B & B. This was actually quite nice since it was a rather pretty Victorian brick building and my room overlooked the college’s extensive, almost park-like garden:

It was, of course, also extremely practical because it meant that in the morning I could simply get up from the breakfast table and casually stroll across the lawn to the conference room on the other end of the garden. And yes, we were actually allowed to walk on the lawn, which from all I hear is quite exceptional in an Oxford college. Actually, on Sunday we even had a wonderful sandwich lunch, sitting, lying and loitering on the lawn in the warm spring sun, surrounded by daffodils in bloom. As for all other meals, there were plenty of sandwich shops, cafés, bars, pubs and restaurants just around the corner to supply us, so there really wasn’t any need to go into town at all. All in all, it really felt like staying in a perfectly secluded ivory tower…

Another view from my room across a section of the college garden - a bit hazy since it was taken at about 7 a.m.

I only made it into the centre once, on Friday evening just after arriving in Oxford. But even on that occasion I didn’t get to see much of the inner city except for the Bodleian Library where a pre-conference reception was held. But at least I got to complete the one task I had set myself after writing that recent post about my previous visit to Oxford, i.e. to take a better photo of the Radcliffe Camera than last time.

Built in 1737 – 1749 after designs by James Gibbs to hold the Radcliffe Science Library, the Radcliffe Camera is probably Oxford’s best-known landmark. And thankfully for my purposes it’s situated right next to the Bodleian Library (on an administrative level it’s actually part of the Bodleian Library, but it’s a separate building). So just before the reception I managed to get a few quick shots of the Camera, the best of which is probably this one:

While it’s definitely an improvement from last time (largely due, of course, to my very much improved camera equipment), I believe it’s still far from perfect. Unfortunately, I was once again in a bit of a hurry as the reception was already starting, and in that rather narrow courtyard surrounding the building, the light was already beginning to fade. Then again, I kind of like the way the evening sun adds a slight red-ish glow to the Camera’s upper parts, creating a nice contrast with the grey of its basement and the cobbled ground.

Hm, I guess I’ll give it another try next time I’m in town – which hopefully will be before another fifteen years have passed. And who knows, maybe I’ll finally find the time to do some proper sightseeing then…