Imparting a love of the dreaming spires

London Redux – 1 week in the capital – A train trip to Oxford

If anything, I had to help my family understand why I loved Oxford.

We took a train from Paddington Station out to the City of Dreaming Spires, and I started our tour with a walk through Cornmarket Street to St. Aldate’s and the imposing Tom Tower of Christ Church. This had been my affiliated college when I studied abroad at Oxford in 2005. I had visited Oxford again the summer previous, spending three days there rediscovering this gorgeous city, so it was nice to visit with my family this time around.

We wandered through the meadows, then went into the quads, the dining hall, and the Cloisters. At the cathedral, we joined a short tour of some of the finer points inside the church. I was glad to have done this, as I learned more about the cathedral and college.

After visiting Christ Church, we had fish ‘n’ chips and elderflower and cider drinks at the Eagle and Child Pub. My sister is a Tolkien fan, so this was a must visit. I brought them into the Divinity School to see the famous ceilings – featured in the Harry Potter films – and then around the Radcliffe Camera, All Souls College, and Bodleian.

I pointed out where C. S. Lewis was said to have drawn his inspiration for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with the lamp post and the satyr decoration on a building in an alley outside the Radcliffe and St. Mary’s the Virgin church. In St. Mary’s Passage, beside the church, were the symbols of literary greatness – as is most of Oxford, really.

We wandered down High Street to Magdalen College and its iconic spires, then grabbed hot drinks and started our trek back toward the train station. It was probably the fastest overview of Oxford I had ever done, but I loved spending a day there again. I have so many brilliant memories of my autumn months spent there.

On the way out, we stopped into a bar called George Street Social – mostly because it was decked out for the Fourth of July. The entire bar area was decorated with American flags and face masks of presidents. A drink there was a good way to celebrate a thoroughly American holiday in the middle of the oldest English-speaking university in the world.

Great stairs at George Street Social

There’s something fun and ironic about celebrating Independence Day in England.

On our way back through Paddington station in London, we encountered a memorial around the Paddington Bear statue in the station. The creator of the lovely and adorable bear, Michael Bond, had just passed away whilst we were in London. People placed flowers and jars of marmalade around the bear’s feet. It was a beautiful tribute to the creator of one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature.

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