England: Bath to Oxford

It’s been awhile and my traveling “jones” hasn’t diminished. Yes, there are times when I wish I were in my home turf and having my daily mocha at Peet’s. But those times are fleeting and when I get to a destination, my interests are piqued.

Heading from the Isle of Man (via ferry) through Liverpool to Bath (via train) worked just fine other than lugging my luggage. Porters and Service peeps were a great help. At one station, the lift (elevator) was out and the wonderful service rep took my bag up the stairs. Very nice. The ferry checked bags so I didn’t have to lug them around. My plight of luggage had exponentially increased since leaving Edinburgh. I had checked a bag at the train station there prior to my Scotland tour but now had it in hand…so to speak.

Taking a taxi from the ferry to the train station worked well. From there I had only two train changes, so not bad. Pretty much on time except for the final leg to Bath which was delayed.

Being my first time in Bath, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I had heard about was the Roman baths. Thought I could don my toga or less and sit in the warm water for hours on end. Not a chance. The Roman bath is a museum. It is quite an excellent museum with a wonderful audio tour of the Baths and immersion in a different way. I spent three hours as I just had to hear everything on the audio player. It was comprehensive with video and history displays to boot.

Good advice

OK. Not that inviting.

I was also able to attend two plays: An Ideal Husband (Oscar Wilde) and Henry V (uhhh…Shakespeare). I left the former at half-time, as I was pretty far back in the theatre and had a difficult time hearing all the nuances of the script. Henry V was excellent. It was quite a small theatre and a brought you right into the action with about 10 actors playing multiple parts. Creative staging, lighting and costumes.

I did also manage a thermal bath. Using the same therms that the Roman baths were privy to, there is a touristy Thermae Baths where you can soak in the water with many other very clean people…OK, it’s chlorinated slightly. There are no really hot baths but some warmish baths, steam room, “sauna” and some quite cold baths including an ice bath of sorts. I tried them all in the allotted 2 hours, of course. Swimsuits must be worn…and co-ed showers. Didn’t see any nudes except for the statues.

Next Stop: Oxford

I had signed up for an OSSA (Oxford Summer School for Adults) a couple of months ago. I was on the waitlist for awhile but a course opened up on Illuminated Manuscripts. Whaaaaat? The summer school is very popular and the courses fill up fast. So I was pretty lucky. What a great experience! After I got over the fact I had to submit a 1000 word essay and was informed that another 1500 word essay would be part of the course, I had my doubts. But, of course, it brought out my competitive spirit and certainly made the course more than just a lark. And I’m enchanted with Illuminated Manuscripts now. The lecturer/instructor was wonderful…Victoria Condie…have to give her a plug. What a delightful and erudite person. I found myself just shaking my head at times fascinated at her knowledge, her asides, and her dedication of the Medieval period. Next year she’s presenting a course on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I bet I’ve whetted your appetite now. I actually saw the manuscript at the British Library. Amazing!

Such an interesting group of students (10) in my course. Six out of the ten were from the States which was a surprise. A very eclectic group.It was quite difficult to hide but very comfortable to participate. And now I’m on the hunt to review as many illuminated manuscripts around the world as possible. As if I need another reason to travel.

But Oxford was very HOT when I visited. It’s been a theme in my travels since May. I could have brought two pairs of shorts, flip flops and a swimming suit and been just fine. A bit of exaggeration but you get my point. I stayed in a “dorm.” It happened to be on the top (3rd) floor of the building with no a/c. A small fan was furnished. The classroom was hot, hot, hot as well. But it was all worthwhile.

I also attended a play: Loves Labors Lost. It was outside and the only day we got a substantial downpour. Everyone ran for the trees and they postponed the play for about 15 minutes. Quite comedic. Very Shakespearean.

I loved walking around Oxford and seeing venues from Inspector Morse and Lewis, Harry Potter, Brideshead Revisited (remember that?) and untold other movies/TV shows. It’s a bit of a rarefied atmosphere with all the colleges I’ve only heard about: Trinity, Exeter, Queens, etc. Coeds flying around on their bikes, hanging around the quads, drinking beer at the numerous pubs.

I recommend it highly. Check out the courses for next summer:

http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/summer-schools

About micetrail

An avid traveler, trader and terpsichorian
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1 Response to England: Bath to Oxford

  1. Rachael Counselman says:

    I’ve been keeping up on all of your travels- I love it!!
    I was so surprised to see I made the cut on this one!!!!

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