Day 10, Jul 5: Goodrich Castle, Oxford Part 1



Turned out to be a frustrating travel day. I suppose you have to have them sometime. If so, it’s nice to have them in great weather, which we had. In a word: traffic. We had our normal breakfast in the hotel and left a little after 9am. We got to our first stop fairly easily about 10:20, it only took a little longer than we thought it would.

Goodrich Castle was our first stop, a piece of the English Heritage collection on our way to Oxford. You won’t recognize any of the names of the owners so I won’t go into all those details beyond the first one: it gets it name from the first owner, Godric Mappeson, who first built a castle here, just a few miles from the Wales border, around 1100. The Great Tower, which still stands today, was built later that century by the next owner. The rest added on over the next several hundred years, and it descended into ruin in the last 1600’s after being badly damaged in a war.

 The castle was about a 5 minute walk from the visitors center, but you got a great view of it as you approached it. Below: lots of hills and farmland all around it made for great views, especially from the top.

 

It’s in much better shape than Wardour Castle, which we saw a couple of days ago, but you still had to careful where you walked.

 

 

 This is the Great Tower I mentioned earlier, the oldest part of the castle, dating back to the 1200’s.
 There were two busloads of students sharing the space with us It was great to see them enjoying this. We chatted with one of the teachers for awhile. His were 7 year students, so 11-12 years old. They also do a ski-trip every year, trading off between Europe and USA. They’ve been to Heavenly and Squaw Valley.

 

 

This was pretty funny: I accidentally ended up in this twice, on the left and the right, because of the way the panoramic gets shot.

 

It ain’t no castle without a chapel. The stained glass window was replaced in 2000.

 

 Heading up to the top. Through that door to Dan’s right were probably in the top 3 of the narrowest staircases we’ve ever encountered. Dan says #1 but I like to give us some wiggle room.

 

 

Above and below were taken from the moat. This is the first time we’ve walked through a moat. The only other time the possibility was even there was at Walmer Castle on Saturday, we just didn’t.

We were there only about 45 minutes, leaving just after 11. From there we experienced a frustrating drive into Oxford. It was only 75 miles but took nearly 3 hours today. Yesterday when we’d mapped it, it was only 1.5 hours. So we missed the Walking Tour we had scheduled for 2pm. We will revisit in the morning and see if there are other options. Dan was really bummed, he was so looking forward to it. The traffic in Oxford proper was the worst part, and then every parking garage (“car park” here) we encountered was full. If it wasn’t for that we might’ve been able to squeeze in on time. We were finally able to find some street parking and sought out lunch instead.

We found a little French place that was #7 on TripAdvisor. It was pretty good. They were closing for lunch at 2:30 and we got in just under the wire. We went for the 2 course set menu.

 Dan had a salad with couscous and salmon; mine was oranges, asparagus, sprouts, Italian parsley, chives.
 Dan had the roasted duck, I had  a seafood risotto (but gave my mussels to Dan!).

 

 We went to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, the world’s first university museum, built between 1678-1683. We got there at 4pm and they closed at 5pm so did a pretty quick walk through, didn’t cover everything, but stayed the whole hour. (If the people look dressed for cold, it’s because I lifted this off the internet.)

 

 Clothing that belonged to the real Lawrence of Arabia.

 

 These were in the ground floor foyer once you got past the ticket counter. They are much bigger than they look here; if you see the person sanding just behind the first statue you’ll get a sense of size, even though that’s probably a kid. The first was Apollo, the 2nd was an ideal of a young male athlete; we don’t remember the last one.
 From there we just walked around town a bit. This was a pedestrian mall and it was crazy full at 5pm.

 

 This was St. Mary’s. You know we can’t resist. Especially when we are allowed to get to the 2nd floor! This version built in the 1400s, a church has been on this site for over 1000 years.

 

 We had entered from a backstreet entrance, and exited through the front, which also had a little café in front of it operated by the church, and it was pretty busy. It opened up into a courtyard with a university building in the middle, Radcliffe Camera, which is the Radcliffe Science Library.

 

This is the Bodleian Library, the main research Library at Oxford, with over 12 million volumes. We caught the very end of a tour that was wrapping up and are hoping to snag one in the morning. It is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and the 2nd largest in Britain. Each of the major sections of the library has it’s own entrance from the courtyard, as shown below.

From there we took the long way back to the car and walked through Oxford University Park which is huge. We came across this quaint sighting of a group of young men playing croquet, nicely dressed in dockers and polo shirts. I said to Dan “that may be the most British thing I’ve ever seen.” Couldn’t get a decent photo of it because it was too shady. We walk a little further and come across the scene in the photos above and below: a tennis club playing on grass courts, in mostly white tennis outfits. That surpassed croquet boys on the British scale in my opinion.

 

We found a little Caribbean place for dinner that was pretty close to our hotel. It was #4 on TripAdvisor’s restaurant list overall and #1 on their “Cheap Eats” list. Can’t be that. The food was great.

Oxtails above, jerk chicken below, both with beans and rice, steamed shredded vegetables and a macaroni and cheese pie.

 

Plantains for dessert of course.
We didn’t do much but the day went by fast. We will see more of Oxford tomorrow but need to get to Heathrow mid-afternoon for a 6pm flight to NYC, where we will stay for 2 nights before heading home.
PS: How are you liking the panoramic photos Dan has been playing with? The ones that are longer than others are panoramic.

 

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