July 9, London to Oxford
We woke up to another cloudy and cool day but no rain. We showered packed up and headed down for breakfast. We were then off to ride the Tube to get to Paddington Station to catch our train to Oxford. When I went to pick up our train tickets from the automated kiosk, I was expecting two tickets, one for each of us. The machine kept spitting out tickets about the size of a credit card, 9 in total, it was like winning at the slot machines J. It turns out it was 1 ticket for each of us both ways (4 tickets) plus a receipt for each ticket (4 more) and one more for good measure but I'm not sure what it was for. We were at the station an hour and a half early so we headed into Starbucks to grab a coffee and get on WIFI to catch up with what's been going on. I took the time to catch up on writing this blog during the 1 hour train ride to Oxford while Brenna watched the gloomy English countryside go by. When we arrived in Oxford we walked to the car rental place but decided that we would wait until morning to pick up the car since there is no parking available at our Bed and Breakfast at Keble College. So once again we headed off on foot several miles through the countryside, along the river and into town. We checked into our room and then headed out to explore the University of Oxford area which is home to 43 colleges. Many of the colleges have chapels so there appears to be old churches on almost every block. It is pretty spectacular with so many buildings dating back several hundred years. We took a tour of the building that houses the Bodleian Library which was started in 1423. On the ground floor is the Divinity School which was Oxfords first examination school. The ceiling is very ornate and includes carvings of religious symbolism and family shields of Kings and the wealthy who donated money. There are also carvings of Religious figures, some of which were defaced when Catholicism was outlawed. They beheaded the figure of the Pope and removed the Cross, possibly because Jesus was on it, but the Virgin Mary survived intact at the other end of the room. Upstairs is the library. The Bodleian library is a copyright library so it collects one of every British book ever printed. The oldest books are in this library. The books in the library were for reference only and could not be removed, in fact, long ago the books used to be attached to the shelves by chains. They were stored with the spine facing inwards. Eventually the chains were removed because they made too much noise in the reading room. The windows in the reading room are large because there were no candles allowed, it was long before electricity and Bodleian didn't want a fire to destroy the rare literature. These two places were also used more recently for something completely different. They were used for filming portions of the Harry Potter films. After the tour we headed out for supper at Nando's for chicken burgers. We went for a stroll after dinner to Christ Church Cathedral (which also is tied to the Harry Potter films) and meandered our way back to Keble College passing many other colleges along the way. This place must be crazy during the school year with all the students!!!