We have had a spectacular adventure, one full of surprises. That's one of the special things about going somewhere new, where everything you see is new and engaging. You operate on your loose agenda, in our case, and then are amazed as you stumble upon the unexpected. Such was the case in Oxford, England.
Our itinerary became a little tight as we made our way from Cornwall, the southwestern area of England, with two stops prior to our time in London. The first stop was Bath, the second Oxford. Both stops would be relatively short, so we knew we would have little time to fully explore these towns. In Oxford, we had one full day, so we set off for the visitors center to get a town map and formulate a plan to see some of the colleges which make up Oxford University.
It's always great fun to explore someplace new... and the history and literary atmosphere in Oxford is so rich. We happened to be there on graduation day for one of the colleges, and the visual treat was great fun. Colorful robes flying, students dressed in formal attire.
And we soon rounded a corner and found ourselves in front of Christ Church College, and it's spectacular cathedral. I knew that the great hall in the Harry Potter films was based on the great hall in this college, so of course I needed to see it! But surprise after surprise greeted me as we wandered the grounds, and it's historic buildings.
First, the hallway and stairs leading to the Great Hall. Another Harry Potter location, where students were greeted at the start of each new school year.
Stained glass windows, always beautiful in their color and storytelling, and docents in select locations to fill you in on the "story" behind what we're seeing.
And here comes another surprise. We came upon a wonderful docent delighted to fill us in on the stained glass window she was standing under. Did we know the story of the Alice window? No? Well let me tell you!
Lewis Carroll was a mathematics instructor here at college. No, of course that wasn't his real name. Only a pseudonym. Dodgson met Alice, the daughter of the dean of this college, and they courted on the grounds. The Alice window has a portrait of each of them, as well as the book characters conjured by Dodgson during his years here. You can see the characters he created around the edges - Alice, Dodo, the Mad-hatter, and others. Amazing! And another connection? Just look carefully at the fire-dogs - inspiration for the long-necked Alice of story fame.
So many stories to tell! I'm so glad I have found my muse again- it's been awhile since I've wanted to dig into my writing.
There's much more to come!