Sunday 11 August
Our 6.45pm flight from Terminal 3 was delayed by over 2 hours so we didn't head to the airport until 5.30pm. Got there early to try to fix up a silly seat allocation that had us in different rows. Check-in with Qantas couldn't help but suggested we try again at the gate. A shared doorstop sandwich and a glass of sauvignon blanc helped our mood while we waited for Immigration to open. We love Qantas as they managed to get us sitting together on a packed Boeing 787-9.
A glass of bubbles while we prepare for take-off was a good start. The seat was OK whilst not a flat bed like those in Business Class. Four movies, some reading, quite healthy food and yes, even a bit of sleep made the 16½ hours non-stop flight tolerable.
Monday 12 August
Arrived just before 7.00am but no aerobridge at Heathrow, perhaps we had missed our slot. Immigration was also very busy with long snaking queues for the E-gates. We walked back and forth but at least it kept moving, and by the time we got through we could pick up the bags straight off the carousel. As expected, a long walk from T3 to the Central Bus Station and the first Railair bus was cancelled as the driver had called in sick. No big deal, just 30 minutes wait for the bus to Reading Station where we walked straight on to the Cross Country train and it's first stop was Oxford.
The Royal Oxford Hotel is only 200m from the station but at 10.15am our room wasn't ready. Dump the bags and head over to The Jam Factory for a Flat White. A rather eclectic collection of rooms, wall and floor coverings and mismatched furniture but the coffee was a lifesaver. Perhaps somewhere for breakfast tomorrow?
Oxford is not a big place, at least not the bit that tourists want to see. We walked off past Oxford Castle, Carfax Tower, the Covered Markets, Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, Ashmolean Museum and all the other sights familiar to anyone who is a "Morse" or "Lewis" whodunit fan. Lunch was down a little alleyway at the Turf Tavern for pints by Wadsworth and Green King. Later in the day we visited the White Horse, another Morse location and The King's Arms for a dinner of Venison Pie with a pleasing pint of Young's Special. We managed to stay awake watching "The Repair Shop" until nearly 8.00pm, a good effort for Day 1 of jetlag.
Tuesday 13 August
Awake at 6.00am for time to do the blog and decide on today's activities. The restaurant at the hotel is being redeveloped so we decided to try the local cafes for breakfast. The Art Cafe opens at 7.00am and was a short walk away. Great coffee and a modest cooked brekkie went down very well.
By 9.30am we were the first in the queue for the big red City Sightseeing Bus. Front seats on the top, excellent! The tour takes about an hour with a recorded commentary. We stayed on the bus for the first circuit and then alighted at Christ Church College to explore on foot. Coffee first at Cafe Loco and then we walk around the college, through the kissing gate, and arrive at The Bear Inn which claims to be Oxford's oldest pub (established in 1242AD). Not stopping we continue down Bear Lane to find the post office to send the first group of Kathy's cards.
By now it's lunch time and just next door is St Aldate's Tavern (yes, funny spelling). Pretty outside but a bit ordinary inside, although the Berkshire Special Bitter was acceptable. But on to the real deal at the Bear Inn which sells Fuller's, one of Tony's favourite brewers from Wandsworth in London. The ESB (Extra Special Bitter) was excellent, as was the smoked salmon nicoise salad, however Kathy's Fish & Chips was average. Our lunch companions were a couple of ladies on a Catholic church day out and an Italian student who had just completed his IT degree in London. We canvassed all the wrong conversation topics including religion, politics, immigration and Brexit, but everyone was polite and we had fun.
Walking north up Cornmarket Street we returned to Broad Street and visited Boswells of Oxford, a small family-owned department store established in the 18th century. Further down is the History of Science Museum where for a donation you can view such unusual items as a blackboard used by Albert Einstein when he gave a lecture at Oxford.
Dinner was at Cote Brasserie restaurant, just to make a change from pub food. An excellent mackerel starter followed by chicken salad for £14.95 was Tony's choice.