Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


We checked out of the hotel after a delicious breakfast and walked into Oxford for a final look around.
This was the pub where we had eaten the night before.

Most students ride bikes around Oxford so you see them parked everywhere.

We decided to go up St Mary the Virgin Tower as that gives a good view of the dreaming spires of Oxford.
 Walking up to the top of the tower you have some great views of the gargoyles and other sculptures.

Once you climb the narrow, spiral staircase you arrive at this small balcony which doesn't go the whole way round the tower nor are there any passing places so it's good to get there early before the crowds.

It does give you some spectacular views over the colleges though.
This is the Radcliffe Camera built to house the Radcliffe Science Library.

When we came down from the tower, we had a brief look at the Bodleian library where a copy of every book registered in the UK is kept. Altogether there are over 9 million items on 176 kms of shelving.  In 2004 the Bodleian made an agreement with Google to digitalize 1 million books. It then began to rain again quite heavily and we went to the covered market to take shelter and decide what to do next. We decided that no one would want to go out on a punt on a Monday morning in the rain so a good time to have a go. Neither of us had ever been in a punt before.

A punt is a flat bottomed boat and you use a pole to move it through the water. As we thought there was no-one else on the river punting so knowing we wouldn't hit anyone else we decided to go for it. We were given a very brief lesson on how to use the pole

Then we were off.

Looks easy.

All was going so well until we went the wrong way, had to turn around and got tangled in the trees. Time to change over.

We needed to go under the bridge behind us. You would think that would be easy but no, we kept getting stuck as we tried to turn it around. What these photos don't show is the other end of the punt where I am sitting trying to help by using the paddle which just seemed to make matters worse.

Oh no here come the trees again.

Have you noticed that we are moving further away from that bridge!

The final insult was being pecked by a cygnet who would not leave us alone.

We decided to swap back as M was much better with the paddle than I was and  remarkably we managed to get the punt back to the boatyard on time. The fact that we travelled less than 200m didn't matter to us as we had the best laugh ever.

Monday, 17 October 2016


Our first morning in Oxford and it was raining but we went into the city and joined a guided tour. I have been on these tours before and have always found them interesting, Today was no exception with our guide being a graduate of Oxford University she was well versed in the history and rituals of the University. There are 38 colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls of religious foundation that make up Oxford University. All  students and teaching staff must belong to one of these colleges or Halls. The majority of colleges are of a similar design with a dining hall,chapel, library and lodging rooms  built around a quadrangle. Many of them dating back to Medieval times. We visited Exeter College, originally founded in 1314 as a school to educate clergymen. This quadrangle is on the site of the original medieval college.

The only remaining building from that time is this tower. Constructed in 1432, it used to be the main entrance into the college, now it houses various offices and rooms for Fellows.

The quadrangle is dominated by the chapel which was constructed in 1854-60.
Having just come from Paris it was of great interest to see the windows which had been inspired by the Sainte Chapelle church in Paris.

A few places in the city were closed as they were filming Transformer 5 so our guide took us through some of the backstreets and alleyways with a story to tell around every corner.

The Turf Tavern has featured in a number of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse novels.

The Turf  Tavern is probably the oldest pub in Oxford as a drinking tavern here can be dated back to 1381.

At the end of the walk we went into The Grand Cafe to dry off. According to Samuel Pepys' diary of 1650 this is the site of the first coffee house in England. 
We then went in search of Christ College and came across the boatyard next to Magdalen bridge and thought about going punting but there was quite a queue so we walked by the Botanical Gardens and across Christ's Church meadow to go and have a look at Christ College.

By the time we got there it was late afternoon and there was no queue. It was well worth a  visit as the Great Hall was open to visitors.

The Great Hall of Christ Church college is perhaps more well known  as the dining hall in the Harry Potter films hence the number of youngsters looking around.

It has the largest quad of the Oxford colleges.

It has a very impressive cathedral (not a chapel like the other colleges).

We were so impressed that we returned in the evening for evensong so that we could hear the magnificent choir sing which was very special.

After evensong we visited The Eagle and Child pub for a meal and drink. It turned out that this pub was the meeting place of Lewis Carrol and his cronies including J.R.R.Tolkien.

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Last day in Paris

We couldn't leave Paris without seeing the  Notre-Dame Cathedral.  During its 850 years it has seen so many historical events including the  crowning of Henry VI of England as King of France; the coronation of Napoleon in 1804 and the canonisation of Joan of Arc in 1920. And, of course, who hasn't heard the Victor Hugo story of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

Just one street away from the Cathedral and all was quiet. Couldn't resist a coffee in this bar.
The perfect place for a wedding photo shoot.

We then went into the gardens at the back of the Cathedral to have a better look at some of the gargoyles.

The Cathedral is on a small island in the middle of the Seine and as we crossed over to the north bank we spotted a swimmer in the river, whilst on the bridge there was a terrific pianist adding to the festive feel of the weekend.

There was a market not far from where we had our lunch and we decided to get something to eat for the journey back to the UK.

 We picked up some cakes and  fresh strawberries  on a kebab stick. They were irresistible and  we ate them as soon as we got on the train. They were fabulous. Back at Ebbsfleet Eurostar station in Kent I had parked the car close to the terminal  building and within 10 minutes of leaving the  train we were on our way to Oxford and the next stage on our journey.