Today I cheated a little. Unsure of how I was going to be able to reach a number of destinations given the time I have planned in there UK, I booked a tour with Golden Tours after my visit to the Harry Potter Studio.
Guided tours are like amusement park rides, focused and limited experiences that serve a very specific purpose. One one hand, they provide very valuable context that may be otherwise lacking. On the other, they are limited in the sense of self-discovery and time.
My hope was to see a few of the places that I fully intend to return to, armed with the aforementioned insight. Fortunately our tour guide, Pete (Peter Piper to his colleagues) was excellent.
We arrived shortly in Oxford, home to Tolkien, Lewis and a number of my own childhood fantasies. The architecture here is spectacular, and of the kind that engenders real reflection. History here is tangible, as thick as molasses in the air.
Christ Church was home to the first real cathedral that I was able to visit while in Europe and was absolutely extraordinary. The stained glass window featured in the earlier photographs is of the archangel Michael, and contains a deep crimson pigment that can no longer be made as the secret of it’s making has been lost.
The university itself is no stranger to odd forgotten traditions either, of which even the memory of their inception has long been forgotten. One college has a door that opens for only five minutes in the year, and members of the adjoining college that come through the door during that time are to be served ale treated with ivy.
Lastly, across the street from the large red door marking the entrance to J.R.R. Tolkien’s former office, is the esteemed Eagle and Child pub where Tolkien and Lewis would meet to discuss their work. While I was unable to visit at this time, I will be certain to make the return a journey if only to be able to stand in the presence of legends.
(To be continued…)