This year’s trip was a mix of the familiar – Oxford (which I visited ten years ago) and the Cotswolds (we both visited here with Alison’s mother and aunt in the early ’90s) – and the new – Ely, just outside Cambridge, featuring the fens and the Norfolk Broads.
After arriving in Oxford by bus from Heathrow, we dropped our bags at the Bath Place Hotel, then walked back down Broad Street to Blackwell’s, as much of a rabbit warren as ever and with so many books we both wanted to buy (only two for me, I was very proud of my restraint). Lunch at the Turl Street Kitchen hit the spot, two orange-yolked eggs over English muffins, then back to the Bath to check in and take a two-hour jet-lag nap.
The hotel is a 17th century muddle of little buildings with our room on the top floor above steep, twisty stairs. It has an interesting history, with Dorothy Sayers among the famous residents. Our room is tiny but charming, with a view of New College from the window. The bathroom was quintessentially British: a tub with a shower spray, which meant you either knelt in the tub to wash your hair (hard on the knees), stood up and sprayed your hair and all the surroundings, or knelt on the floor and leaned into the tub. None was entirely satisfactory (shades of our Paris apartment!), but for three days we could manage.
Awakening restored and refreshed, we walked down Turl Street to the Oxford Wine Shop, a lovely place, then to a few high-end shops selling historic maps and prints and beautiful old jewels. On the way back, we came to the Radcliffe Camera in the late afternoon sunshine. Dinner tonight was literally around the corner at the renowned Turf Tavern, where we had steak and ale pies and french fries that made us both very happy. We admired the hanging baskets of flowers and the late sun on the New College bell tower. And so to bed.