Day Out - Boats, Buildings, Botanics and Bikes - Oxford in the Summer Sunshine

June 15, 2015

Rome has been called the Sacred City. Might not our Oxford be called so too?! - William Hazlitt

A couple of Thursdays ago, after seeing the hot sunny weather forecast Ben took the day off so we could go and enjoy the start of summer. I'm freelance, and Ben is self-employed so it means we can take a day in the week sometimes which I love as it means that most places are super quiet and you can enjoy them without the crowds. Oxford has been on my list for a while, it's only about an hour from us so I really don't know why both of us had never been there before. I feel like after travelling quite a lot over recent years it can take quite a lot to seriously impress me but Oxford really did blow my mind. It was incredible, and now my favourite city in the UK for sure. 
We wandered around the old colleges {the architecture is ridiculously stunning}, and rented a boat and had a picnic on the river before alll the pretty in the Botanic Gardens. England, you really are something else when the sun shines like that. June is such a magical month. A really amazing day out if you haven't been before, more photos below.. 

We didn't really know anything about the city - famous of course for having one of the oldest  and probably the most famous university in the world - before we went. I had looked up some of the highlights on TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Conde Nast Traveller before our visit but really all you need to do is wander around. There are museums which would probably be worth going to but it was such a hot day we just wanted to be outside. It was such a perfect summery day out. Although I think that in the Winter it would be cute to wrap up and go for a walk, visit a museum then find somewhere nice for lunch.

There are bikes everywhere, which for some reason makes it feel more romantic. Students just riding along on their way to class or exams {one old tradition that Oxford university has is for students taking exams to have to wear their full academic dress, gowns and all. They also have to wear flowers on their buttonholes, a different colour to show which stage of your degree you're at. So that was fun to spot the gowns. I went to LSE and we had nothing as fancy as that}. 

There are sights to be seen all around, from churches {it's known as the land of magical spires} and some of the oldest buildings in Britain and smart coloured houses. I love the stone, it reminded me of the Cotswolds which is only down the road. The high street had everything you could wish for too, although it was too hot for any shopping last week. 

We didn't actually tour around the colleges, most are open to visitors for a small fee {although some are closed to the public on certain days of the week} but they were magnificent to look at nonetheless. And so incredibly well manicured.

We got into the town centre just after 10am {after a park and ride bus, Oxford is notorious for no parking in the city centre so there are numerous park and ride schemes that you can use. It was surprisingly quick and easy.} and headed straight to trusty M&S to pick up some picnic supplies. We discovered the Radcliffe Camera building {the round building photographed above} en route but wanted to try and hire a boat before it got crowded. 

You can punt or row, but after discovering how punting is actually much harder than it looks in Cambridge a couple of years back, we opted for a leisurely row boat. 

While the river in Oxford is not quite as spectacular as Cambridge with the backs of the colleges and meadows, it's still pretty and goes past the Botanic Gardens and Christ Church Meadows. There are some cute bridges to pass under, wild flowers at the side of the banks and just being on the river is fun on a hot day. 

Ben was a true gentleman and rowed the whole way {he had blisters on his hands by the end of it!}. 

We stopped just before the river Charwell {that runs through Oxford} joins the Isis {Oxford's name for The Thames} and had our picnic. Floating on the river, with the warm sunshine, definitely beat our regular spot for a picnic on a blanket somewhere. 

Once we'd finished our sandwiches and salads it was finally time to dig into the strawbs. I can't get enough of them right now, they're so super sweet, always taste so much better when grown in the UK. 
Strawberries, Fizz and a Row boat. Old fashioned romance right there    .

But then we realised we didn't have any glasses with us!... 

Back on dry land we crossed the road from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse to the Botanic Gardens. 

It's definitely worth paying the few pounds each to visit. 

The gardens were insane. So incredibly beautiful, Ben is now lusting after a walled cottage garden {well, as am I!}.

So many pretty flowers and views back over the city with it's spires and it's right next to the river so you can watch the boats go past. 

There's lots of grass and benches too to just sit for a while, we were tired with the heat. 

How pretty are these foxgloves?! And you cannot beat rambling roses and an archway. 

There are tropical hot houses too, just like a mini Kew gardens, with giant lilypads, cactus and even pineapples!

After a while in the gardens we left and headed into Christchurch Meadows through a gate at the side. Ben was in love with the spectacular cricket pitch surrounded by the old colleges on one side, a meadow on the other and the river running by. His idea of heaven! 

Christ Church is one of Oxford's most famous university colleges, it's certainly one of the most spectacular buildings. And after a quick google - it has produced 13 British prime ministers! 

The meadow is pretty to walk around, with cattle grazing and lots of trees to take shade under. We took some time just laying under the clouds in front of the college. I love laying on the grass. 

And if you're a Harry Potter fan then you'll probably recognise a lot of Oxford, some of the colleges were used a lot in filming.

The best summer's day.

“Rome has been called the "Sacred City": - might not our Oxford be called so too? There is an air about it, resonant of joy and hope: it speaks with a thousand tongues to the heart: it waves its mighty shadow over the imagination: it stands in lowly sublimity, on the "hill of ages"; and points with prophetic fingers to the sky: it greets the eager gaze from afar, "with glistering spires and pinnacles adorned," that shine with an internal light as with the lustre of setting suns; and a dream and a glory hover round its head, as the spirits of former times, a throng of intellectual shapes, are seen retreating or advancing to the eye of memory: its streets are paved with the names of learning that can never wear out: its green quadrangles breathe the silence of thought.” 
― William Hazlitt

Where next for a day out? You can see previous outings here.

R <3 xx 

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  1. Wow! What a day out! The UK never fails to impress with beauty EVERYWHERE!


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