As with the Natural History Museum in London, I like the building of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History just as much as the collections it contains. There is so much to be seen on the stonework: squirrels eating acorns, carved tulips, pineapples, irises, orchids, meat-eating plants, ferns unfurling, birds and a frog hiding between leaves, and a fair number of plants and animals I don’t recognise.
Not only are the stone pillars adorned with carvings of animals and plants, the iron pillars are beautifully decorated with leaves and branches as well. Whale skeletons seem to swim in this sea of pillars.
Statues of eminent men of science stand guard in the court on the ground floor.
Some like to have a picknick on the lawn in front of the museum.
Pray for the souls of ‘all the faithful departed’
Stained glass windows in the antechapel
All Souls College, or ‘College of the souls of all the faithful departed’ as it is formally called, was planned and built in the 1430s. It received its foundation charter in 1438.
The Fellows of the College, next to their scholarly work, had the obligation to pray in chapel for the souls of the founders, of those who had fallen in the long wars with France (at the time not being prosecuted with much vigour), and of ‘all the faithful departed’.
The antechapel has beautiful stained glass windows, some dating from the fifteenth century. The niches behind the altar contain statues of saints, bishops, and monarchs. In the centre are a Crucifixion scene, and a Last Judgement, high up under the roof. The original fifteenth-century statues were destroyed in Reformation. They were replaced with these Gothic imitations in the nineteenth century. Gilded wooden angels adorn the ends of the roof beams.
The North Quadrangle, facing Radcliffe Square, is dominated by its iconic twin towers.
The Codrington Library contains about 185,000 volumes, about a third of which were printed before 1800.
Venice is said to be an enchanting town. And I think it is, if you know where to look.
In my opinion, one should avoid the overcrowded Piazza San Marco, where hoards of tourists queue to get into the Basilica di San Marco or the Palazzo Ducale. I’d say the same for Ponte di Rialto, though the bridge itself it is a pretty sight.
What I love about Venice are the quiet waterways, the narrow back alleys, the deserted piazzas.
The magnolia has been my favourite flowering tree since childhood. Last weekend I visited the Botanic Garden in Oxford for the first time and was lucky enough to catch the magnolia while the sun was shining.
In Britain the naming of inns and pubs became common by the 12th century, according to Historic UK. With the names came the famous pub signs. A few examples from Oxford.
The Eagle and Child in St Giles is the pub where the literary discussion group the Inklings used to meet. Among its members were the famous authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. They nicknamed the pub ‘The Bird and Baby’.
The Lamb & Flag, opposite The Eagle and Child, is owned by St John’s college. The name of the pub refers to the symbol of Christ as the victorious Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), carrying a banner with a cross. The Lamb of God is also a symbol of St John the Baptist, and so emblematic of the college’s ownership.
The Turf Tavern is one of the most popular pubs in Oxford, and yet one of the most difficult to find – stand under the Bridge of Sighs and you’ll see the sign! Public figures such as Tony Blair, C.S. Lewis, Stephen Hawking, Margaret Thatcher dined or drank at the tavern, as well as the cast and crew of the Harry Potter movies. The Turf is old: its foundations and use as a malt house and drinking tavern date back to 1381.
The Rusty Bicycle is an old pub with a fairly new name. It’s a popular place to meet outside the city center, on the corner of Magdalen Road and Hurst Street. The bike on the wall needs more time to weather and become truly rusty.
The Mad Hatter, on the corner of Iffley Road and Circus Street, is a place of English eccentricity – according to it’s webpage. Google maps identifies it as a quirky cocktail bar with speakeasy vibe. It’s very clear though that in a previous life, the pub used to go by the name of The Cricketer’s Arms.
This morning I wanted to open the curtains to a snowy white world. My sister did, in the Netherlands. But no luck here in Oxford.
So, I went back to a day in February 10 years ago when I had a wonderful walk from my house to Paleis het Loo. While it was snowing.
On a foggy winter day, visitors of Blenheim Palace can only guess at the grandeur of the place. Dimensions are lost. Vistas are obscured.
The scene is gift wrapped in mist, waiting for the sun to reveal it. The monumental house, park and gardens.
We’ll revisit in spring or summer.
A number of English and Roman cupola…