Thursday, September 3, 2015

Scholars, Spires, and Harry Potter


Bill Clinton, Kris Kristofferson, Rachel Maddow, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz have nothing on us. They may have been Rhodes Scholars, but Kevin and I are "road scholars" and we went to Oxford too! (OK, it's not quite the same thing.)

However, we did get to act a little like Oxford University students. In the summer, many of the colleges rent out student accommodation to tourists, so we signed up for a room with a double-bed (almost a queen) with a private bathroom at Keble College. It was modest, but clean and comfortable.  

At Oxford, the 38 colleges serve as accommodations for the students, while they all study at various locations in Oxford and receive their degrees from Oxford University.
We strolled around the quad like we belonged there!
I kept wanting to call Keble College, Keebler, like the cookies. When the college constructed its buildings in the Victorian era, it created quite a stir, and some termed them "monstrosities." In a way they are, but I like them anyway!

Keble is one of the newer colleges. The oldest ones were founded in the 1200s, and Oxford has actually had a learning institution of some type since 1096. The residence we slept in was constructed in 1995, but when we walked out, we saw those gorgeous old buildings.


I have a better photo of the chapel, but I look better in this one, and it is my blog!
I really liked going in and out of the college through the porter's lodge and stepping into the door-in-the-door.  In former times, this arrangement allowed pedestrians to enter while keeping the weather out, so the larger door only had to opened to admit carts or carriages.



Our room at Keble was basic, but pleasant, with a large double bed (almost a queen), and an attached shower and toilet room. The residence building itself was built in 1995, but when we walked out the door through an archway, we found ourselves in the old quad.

But the best thing about staying at Keble College was eating breakfast every morning in the great hall. Keble's dining hall is the longest at Oxford, and we felt a little as though we were in a Harry Potter movie. That's not surprising since the dining hall in the Harry Potter films was modeled on Oxford halls. Sadly, there were no flying birds or floating candles, but the breakfast was good. And to think we passed on the baked beans and stewed tomatoes. (Usually a full English breakfast has grilled tomatoes, which I like, but I left the stewed ones for someone else.)





We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Oxford, strolling the streets, taking a fact-filled walking tour, and visiting the Ashmolean Museum, which we missed on a previous visit. It's a gem of a museum, with art and artifacts of all periods. It even houses the mantle, or cloak, of Chief Powhatan,  Pocahontas's father.

Fans of Inspector Morse, Endeavour, or Inspector Lewis may recognize the buildings below as the Sheldonian Theatre, designed by Christopher Wren, and the Radcliffe Camera, below:






We also visited a pub that Bill Clinton was known to frequent in his student days at Oxford. In spite of the goofy-looking selfie, we only had one beer each.





We had such a good time exploring "the city of dreaming spires" that I'm sure we'll be back again. I wouldn't mind staying at another college next time, just to compare.

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