Never having been a fan of London, finding Bath middling OK and barely managing to survive the country roads of the Cotswolds, I assumed we were simply not Anglophiles. Harry Potter has never appealed. To be fair to the Cotswolds we thought Upper and Lower Slaughter wonderful and Burford quite nice; extending fairness to books there's Jane Austen of course, Anthony Trollope who I've recently discovered I like a lot, and a few others, naturally. But in general? Give me the Continent every time.
Until Oxford. I was about to say until our arrival in Oxford, but that arrival goes under the heading of "Do Not Drive in England" about which the less said the better. Once rid of that damned car the city shone. The buildings are magnificent, the shops cute but not cloying, the colleges stunning, the people warm and kind.
Christ Church College was our first stop, where a kindly porter let us enter despite the "No Visitors" sign. It really is like all the movies and TV shows, but it's not a stage set, it's a living place. The students all over, the mix of locals and tourists, the scale of a small town but the activities of a city. It's a very pleasant place to be, even in the rain that accompanied our first day.
So far we've visited the Bodleian Library, St. Mary the Virgin University Church, Magdalen College, Christ Church, and wandered a few streets. Lunch at The Bear, possibly the oldest pub in Oxford, two tiny low-ceilinged rooms where we shared a table with a couple of old dons under a massive collection of cut-off neckties, each labeled with the college, school or regiment of its previous owner.
We heard a boy's choir sing evensong in the Cathedral. And at dinner last night we sat quite near Lawrence Fox, the actor who plays Sergeant Hathaway on the Inspector Lewis TV series. All this and celebrities too!
Remember, photos are at www.instagram.com/shellioreck