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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Oxford

I had high expectations for Oxford. Home of one of the greatest institutions in our country and
the gateway to greatness. On first impression we were a bit underwhelmed...the train station was nothing like Harry Potter. No Hagrid waiting for us at the gates, just a lot of tourist muggles and a few poncy people in waistcoats and tails probably on their way to meet the Prime Minister. We thought we'd press on though, perhaps we hadn't given Oxford much of a chance. We were only at platform 1 after all. 
Our first stop was the Christchurch buildings and meadows. Now this was beautiful. Pale honey stone, sweeping lawns, immaculate gardens and a fairytale manor house nestled in amongst the grounds.

Tomasz really liked the grass. It was epic, and looked like it had been cut by hand with a pair of nail scissors. We weren't allowed on it, which was fair enough. If I had grass like that I'd not let anyone on it either. It really was magical stuff. 


Even though Oxford is frequented by lots of tourists it feels like you're very much on the outside looking in when you're visiting parts of the university. Lots of gardens and parts of the buildings were closed off to us, and I wouldn't say it's overly inviting. Clearly us muggles weren't allowed more than an outside peep at Hogwarts...


We made our way through the cobbled streets, past old sixteenth century buildings with tiny doorways. The whole place feels so historic. There are plaques everywhere devoted to the great minds which have passed through this city; novelists, country leaders, Nobel prize winners, and my friend Leon of course... although I think they'd forgotten his plaque. 



After a long walk around the Christchurch grounds, along the river and into a pub for some lunch we found the highstreet. At last some normal people! Clearly this is the modern Oxford where the mortals come. Lots more beautiful buildings, but this time interspersed with shops and restaurants. You could just picture the common folk stopping for a pint of ale and some bread and cheese under the creaking beams back in the 1500's. Surrounded by the brawling uncouth English public you'd swap stories and gossip from the king's court and try not to get your head chopped off. This place is now a Pret unfortunately, so no ale here; just a prawn sandwich and a carrot juice to go. 




On a friend's suggestion we did manage to find a public house which clearly hasn't changed much since it was established in 1242, The Bear is a tiny piece of Oxford gold. Miniscule inside, with the lowest ceilings and a staircase so narrow and crooked I almost fell off on my way to the loo. We had already eaten so it was just a G&T and a pint for us, and a chance to rest our aching feet. It's definitely worth a visit if you're passing. 


I would have loved to have stayed in one of the charming little B&Bs, tucked up in what I imagine would have been a bed fit for a lady, but we had seen enough of Oxford for now. We decided to forego the train, and instead apparated back home to our beds. Perhaps Hogwarts will let us in next year. 




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