On Tuesday morning my parents caught the direct train from Worcester to Oxford - they'd parked their car at Worcester Shrub Hill and jumped on encountering no problems. It was encouraging to hear they'd been assisted by very helpful station and parking staff (parking arrangements performed by my 90 year old father by telephone and credit card - the man is a legend!).
We walked into Oxford leaving Barry on the boat to move it back up the canal as unfortunately the moorings really close to the city and rail station are only for 48 hours (and overstayers are supposedly 'fined' £25 each subsequent night), so we'd 'done our time' and were obliged to find another slot. Barry then cycled in and met us in a bar, on one of our frequent rest stops, and once we'd exhausted ourselves looking around we tried to catch a bus back to the boat's new home. Things didn't run too smoothly as we waited at the wrong bus stop for ages before realising our error, then once we got the correct bus we missed the stop as the driver didn't tell us we'd reached it! My poor parents had a long treck back to the boat, where we finally ate dinner around 2100hrs.
Dad carrying a 'useful' piece of cardboard Barry found Hope it's not much further!
On Wednesday our planning improved and my dad and I went on the open top bus tour, alighting a couple of times to buy lunch at an M & S food store at the station, and then again to eat said goodies sitting restfully in the charming 'Christchurch Meadows'.
We took the bus while Barry got on his bike again so he could collect the bags later on
Don and Sandra on the open top bus city tour Lunch stop in Christchurch Meadow
What we did discover on Wednesday was the well-hidden toilet availability mystery tour of Oxford. We were reliably informed that Oxford Council previously shut down most of the public conveniences to save money, and now a 'collective' of businesses 'allow' members of the public to use their facilities - known as 'The Community Toilet Scheme'. You can pick up a small business sized card from the Information Centre, hidden away surreptitiously at the rear, detailing ten town locations who've signed up. I wonder if the Council pay them to provide this public service for them??? More importantly I wish they'd advertise the fact a lot better than they do - there must be tourists walking around every day desperately seeking somewhere to relieve themselves, it's shocking. Marks and Spencer's and McDonalds must also be a little fed-up with being the local public conveniences that everyone is recommended to use - McDonald's in particular as they're not even listed as being part of the scheme!
Anyway, enough complaining for one blog post - but if anyone is visiting Oxford I'd recommend the Town Hall toilets that my dad and I researched after our lunch break!
Meanwhile, my mum and Barry had a guided walk around some of the University Colleges, with a guide called Stuart who himself studied at Oxford at some time - he certainly spoke very nicely.
Some shots around Trinity College - parts of the 'Harry Potter' series were filmed here ...
'Chalking up' the colleges historic sporting achievements on the walls of the students accommodation
More stupendous college collages follow (Barry can't remember what they all are, sorry!) ...
I thought there was a drought on - the greenest, lushest lawn I've ever seen
John Wesley's College (can't remember the name) dining room and stained glass window in the chapel
Jesus College dining room with some very famous portraits hanging around
The history of Charles I and Queen Mary being explained by Stuart, our guide
We caught up with Barry and my mum back in the centre and they then used our bus tickets while my dad and I sat in a cafe waiting for them, following which we found our way back to the train station, by bus (we got good at it in the end!) and said goodbye to them once again. Hope we didn't wear them out too much! I'm so lucky to be able to spend such quality time with my parents.
Colleges tour completed - swap over to the open top bus tour
Our next stop was to Sarah's house, a mile or two out of town, and a pleasant walk along the 'Thames Path' much of the way. We had a most enjoyable evening there - well Sarah and I had a great 'midwifery matters' catch up and Barry attempted to look interested! He was however incredulous to hear that some years ago Sarah and her daughter had walked the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to London in six days - only because her daughter had asked if it was possible to do it! What an amazing feat.
Osney Lock on the way to Sarah's house
An amazing house by 'Folly Bridge 'and the 'The Head of the River' pub looking very busy on a sunny Wednesday evening
Sandra & Sarah celebrate (& commiserate on occasions) their many years as 'radical' midwives
We walked back to the boat rather than catching the bus (gluttons for punishment?), arriving just before midnight to check out the emailed photos for our 'Canal Boat' magazine article. I didn't finish putting them in order and writing captions (after recalling where each place was that we visited last year, no mean feat as they weren't labelled!) until after 0200hrs, but knew I'd never get it done in the morning as we had to be up bright and early as Saul, Sarah's ten year old son, was coming to spend a day with us on Thursday at 0830hrs!
Life jacket at the ready, it's a bit of a responsibility to be in charge of someone else's child on a narrowboat, so we knew we'd have to be a little less laid back than normal ...
Arriving back to where the boat was moored - a helicopter searching for something or someone
A few flirtatious floral displays (and stunning window shapes) from around the Oxford Colleges