Through the hidden doorways…

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A doorway in the quad of Trinity College, Oxford

I have lived in, or near, Oxford for four years and still love exploring the city. So much of it is hidden behind old doors or through medieval arches that you walk past day after day and always wonder about what could be on the other side. I am lucky to work for the University so I have a key to the city… unlocking the treasures of hidden gardens, quads and unseen buildings tucked away.

I love the old doors and quite often find myself bending down to peep through the keyholes if they are locked. Such as the one above that I found in a sunny quad in Trinity. I feel like Alice in Wonderland peering through, not knowing what will look back at me from the other side. Sometimes it’s cavernous rooms, corridors or occasionally a brick wall. I haven’t been caught by a Porter yet! 

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The meadow in Magdalen College

Walking around the meadow and deer park in Magdalen College in spring is one of the most beautiful places in the city. Daffodils, wood anemones and snakeshead fritilleries grow in drifts and the new growth on the trees is fresh green and beautiful. 

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The Divinity School in the Bodleian Library

When I walk into rooms like the Divinity School, I can’t quite believe that students studied in there. It was built in 1488 and is the University’s first purpose built room for teaching and its first examination hall, more recently it was used as the Infirmary in the Harry Potter movies. As a classroom, I think the ceiling would be far too distracting! The light trickles in through the windows and dances on the ceiling and flagstone floor, so it’s as if the room has been twinkling through the ages as students, researchers, professors and tourists have all come and gone. But it remains behind, steadfast in stone. I wonder if it has absorbed all that learning?

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Through a window I spy… the Radcliffe Camera

Sometimes you catch a glimpse out of the window of a different view of something familiar, like the Radcliffe Camera. The garden in front is the Fellows Garden in Exeter College which is raised above the street below and gives a wonderful view over Radcliffe Square. I love walking in the square at night with only the moon and stars above casting their light through the darkness, despite being in the middle of a city. The moonlight bounces off the cobbles underfoot and all is still, sometimes in the winter the scent of woodsmoke wafts around you, no doubt from one of the old pubs nearby. 

Today’s Metro has a feature citing the 12 reasons that Oxford is the best city in the UK. I’m inclined to agree with them, if only the houses could be cheaper and there could be fewer tourists! Here are some of my favourite places:

To eat – Mission Burrito, St Aldates Tavern, The Old Parsonage, Gee’s, Oxfork, The Magdalen Arms

To drink – St Aldates Tavern, The Royal Oak, Freud, The Perch, The Trout, House Bar, Grand Cafe, The Lamb and Flag

To visit – The Bridge of Sighs (made more special as I first met my dude under the bridge one January evening), New College, Magdalen College, All Souls, Merton, Trinity, the Radcliffe Camera

To do – go punting, visit the Ashmolean, the Pitt Rivers Museum and Natural History Museum, shop in the Covered Market

Where is your favourite place in Oxford? What have I forgotten?

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