Thursday, July 7, 2016 Done.

Our stay in Oxford was, in my humble opinion, two days too long. Wednesday and Thursday were really stretches to find something to do, which on one hand was nice because we could just relax a little after the hustle of London, but on the other hand, made for a bit of a boring time as we simply didn't know how to just immerse ourselves in the culture and be present. We tried, mind you, but with three kids, it was tough.

Since I'm a wee bit behind and there just isn't that much of interest to write about, I'm going
to go ahead and condense three days into one post.


We started our day at the Ashmolean, the world's first university museum. It was constructed between 1678 and 1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities previously collected by Elias Ashmole and donated to the University of Oxford in 1677. The present building though, dates back from 1841 - 1845, as the collection was moved and the Old Ashmolean currently houses the Museum of the History of Science.

We used one of the family trails to guide us through the museum, looking at the top ten highlights and stopping along the way to browse other rooms. Nothing funnier than a six year old looking at a really old artifact and saying, "I want to buy that one!" Funny or sad. I'm not actually sure, to be honest.

One of my favorite things was the Alfred Jewel. It was made in 1693 under Alfred the Great and is inscribed with inscribed "aelfred mec heht gewyrcan", meaning 'Alfred ordered me made'.

I don't know why, but this cracks me up. There has been some debate about its intended use, but typically, it is accepted that it was on the end of a rod for following along as one read. Quite a gorgeous piece of gold and quartz to be attached to an object intended for heavy use. Can you imagine if we used such items now to follow along as we read, instead of just using our finger or a paper bookmark?

From there, we grabbed lunch then headed to the Museum of Natural History. This was a favorite of the kids, as we explored real and model dinosaurs, whales, and mammals from all over the world. Not particularly English, per se, but a good break from the art and historical collections we had visited thus far. Elliot had repeatedly let me know she was done with art for awhile.

In the back of the Museum of Natural History is a great little place named Pitt Rivers Museum. At the Ashmolean, and employee had told us that Pitt Rivers was the best museum in Oxford. We couldn't not visit! The place was packed to the gils with glass cased filled with archaeological and ethnographic knick knacks from all parts of the world and all time periods. It was a much stuff was packed into that place. I surprisingly, didn't take any pics worth noting. I think I was just too overwhelmed by the large amount of things to see and plus, it was dark. According to the guide, there are over half a million items in displayed in the museum, and that doesn't include the items in drawers and cabinets not on display.

We were all museumed out after that and decided a walk in Oxford University Parks, which was located right next door to the museums, was in order. I actually took more pictures in the park of the amazing flora that surrounded us, some that I had never seen before, than I did in the museums that day. We walked for over 4 km, whatever that is, before getting back to the Magdalen Bridge where we decided to go "punting" before we had dinner.

As a I said in the last post, punting is a flat bottomed boat with a flat bow. The rower stands in the back on the slatted deck (in Oxford. Cambridge does it a bit different) and uses a long metal or wooden rod to propel and rutter. It is hard. Very, very hard. Don't let the kid with the paddle fool you. She was no help. No help at all. To be fair...none of the kids were any help at all in the paddling department, but I don't think that was the purpose of that paddle to begin with. We finished the night with a picnic in the park before heading in for the night, exhausted from our very long walk that day.


We had a late start on Wednesday, and were out the door by eleven, headed for Oxford Castle, a large, partly ruined Norman medieval castle . The original wooden structures were replaced by stone in the 11th century and the castle played an important role in The Anarchy. In the 14th century, its important dwindled and the building became a prison. During the 17th century, most of the castle was destroyed (British Civil War) and was used as a prison until 1996. We didn't pay for the tour, but just walked around before paying the pound to climb to the top of the motte, or mound, where the castle was originally built. It offered us quite the view of the surrounding city.

We walked past the Radcliffe Observatory and the Oxford University Press on our pay to Port Meadows and a lovely walk along the Thames. Port Meadows, according to the sign at the entrance of the footpath, hasn't changed in nearly 900 years. This ancient grazing ground is common land, which has never been ploughed.

Then it was home for dinner and soccer. Wales sadly lost to Portugal, but we enjoyed the game in a nearby restaurant over some chips. When in Rome...or in this case, Oxford...


This was by far our laziest day of the trip. We, again, got a late start, grabbed some lunch and then headed for the Museum of Oxford, which is supposed to be a history of Oxford exhibit. It was a room. A very small room. We looked around for a minute then headed out for the Museum of the History of Science which is housed in the original Ashmolean Museum. It holds a nice size collection of early scientific instruments, many of which I had never heard of.  After that, we headed home and napped. We also cleaned up and packed for Friday's trip to France. And we watched France beat Germany in a very exciting soccer game that makes our trip to Paris infinitely more exciting...

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