Today was the first of the day excursions, a day trip to the ’City of Dreaming Spires’, Oxford. All convinced that Oxford could in no way be better than Cambridge, the intermittent rain showers and thunderstorms meant the city of Oxford would have to really shine to convince us of its splendour.
Students piled onto the coach, equipped with their umbrellas and waterproof gear, ready to entertain themselves with snacks, games of Uno and sing-alongs.
A short two hours later, we arrived in the city of Oxford to be greeted with heavy showers of rain and we scurried through the streets searching for lunch and shelter. We discovered the culinary delights of Oxford, visiting Pieminister and Mission Burrito, and followed by milkshakes at Moo Moo, with over two hundred flavours to choose from.
With our satisfied stomachs, we all returned for a walking tour of Oxford. Whilst learning about the history of the university, we visited the Oxford colleges, including Balliol, Merton, Hartford, All Souls’, and Oriel, some dating back to as early as the 13th century. Moreover, we explored some of the other university buildings such as the Radcliffe centre, the Sheldonian and Bodlean library. It was not only the architecture that managed to stun us but also learning about the quirky traditions of Oxford, most of which seemed to involve some alcohol. One of the most memorable was the Mallard Song, a song sung once a century led by Lord Mallard as the fellows of the All Souls’ college roamed around with lit torches. This supposedly began as a tradition in search of a giant duck that flew out of the foundations during the construction of the college.
However, we were also regaled with stories of some of Oxford’s most famous alumni. Being greeted by a carved lion on a door with two fauns on either side of a doorway on the corner of the University Church of St Mary’s, it wasn’t hard to see some of the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. The tour ended with a visit to one of Oxford’s largest tourist attractions, the beautiful Christ Church college where we were all impressed by its vast and incredibly ornate cathedral.
Now it was time for some less structured exploration of Oxford. Students left in small groups to discover the hidden gems of Oxford, a popular choice being Blackwells, the oldest and one of the largest bookstores in the city. The mentors settled in a lovely cafe, the Turl Street Kitchen, to relax for a while as the sun came out.
The day ended with a lovely formal dinner at Somerville college. After being served a lovely two course meal, followed a choice of orange and mint chocolates, we were all thoroughly exhausted and ready for the journey home.
Despite the weather, Oxford had managed to impress us with its rich history and plethora of unconventional tradition and left many of us hoping for a return visit soon!