August 9: Salisbury to Oxford

Apparently Saturday August 9 was the day for taking pictures. I’ve narrowed down my small collection to just 81 that I will include here. So if you’ve been coming for the pictures, this is your day. I had some pretty great subjects in the quaint town of Salisbury, the stunning cathedral and its cloister, and C. S. Lewis’s house. So if you’ve ever wanted a photo tour of Lewis’s house, look no further.

We made a few interesting discoveries on this day, chief in my memory being that driving in England is a huge pain in the butt. At least driving from Salisbury to Oxford past Avebury on a summer Saturday. Not recommended. We gave ourselves four hours for a less-than-two hour drive and needed all four of them. At one point we opted for the major motorway rather than risk the winding and congestion of back roads, only to end up in a half hour of stand-still traffic, as we watched all our margin for arriving in time to tour Lewis’s house tick past on the clock. But we made it in the nick of time. Meanwhile, we read a good chunk of our novel, which I retrieved from the trunk at one point during the fifteen minutes it took us to inch into the roundabout connecting our route to the route bound for Stonehenge. Everybody in England went to Stonehenge on August 9. I know, because I watched them.

We also discovered that there are all kinds of busses from London to Oxford and that Oxford has this sweet park-and-ride system that gets you into the center of town painlessly (if you look past the couple pounds). Maybe next time we will skip the rental car and take busses and trains. Or maybe we won’t. Annoying as it was sometimes, going at our own pace (at least the pace the traffic would allow) with no fellow-passengers was a pretty good time.

Sunday 10 August, 8:30 p.m. The Eagle and the Child, Oxford

It’s been a whirlwind two days. We went to 7:30 communion yesterday morning at Salisbury Cathedral; the rain had gone and the sun was shining again. It was cold. The service was so wonderful, so intimate, in the rear chapel. Afterwards we drove around town awhile, picked up a few things for lunch at the bakery, and paid three hours of parking. Back at St. Ann’s House we ate breakfast and chatted with the owner, a very successful chef, formerly a personal chef to several very famous people. The breakfast was fabulous – had the chef touch, with peppercorns in the pineapple and anise in the orange marmalade, and an amazing breakfast quinoa. Really never had a better breakfast. The chef, Michael Riley, was fascinating, educated, articulate, friendly. After checking out we wandered town (down to the mill and the quaint river walk) and the cathedral – I am ever more taken with the cloisters.

We took the long way to Oxford, driving past Avebury Stone Circle and reading Love in the Ruins to pass the time. We arrived at the Kilns with two or three minutes to spare, joining a tour of 8-10 other pilgrims, wandering through the house and gardens. What an inspiration!! We had just enough time afterward to check into The Talkhouse and bus into the heart of Oxford for Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, an unforgettable experience. Walking through the doors and emerging in the quad was like entering Narnia. All magic. Afterward we wandered Oxford’s empty streets on empty stomachs. The town quiets down at 7, especially after a heavy rain. By this time we were tired and a little burned out. We couldn’t get our bearings, without a map and flanked by tall buildings, walling us out of the colleges’ mysteries. Everything was closed. We returned to our lodging and settled in for pub dinner and beers and catching up on the internet work we needed to attend to. It felt luxurious, settling in for an early night at a place where we will stay a second night. The Talkhouse, like all our other accommodations, did not disappoint. It is like quaint rural England, but magnified as though it’s a page from a novel or a scene from a movie. A tudor-style building, low to the ground, with a red phone booth tucked in its side and hanging baskets exploding color against the white walls. Our room is spacious and comfortable and the whole setting is just perfect and picturesque. Bussing into the city is easy, too, a sweet relief after all the cities we’ve inched across in our rental car. This city makes me insanely happy, and Mike grins to see me so excited, so eager.

Sunrise out our bedroom window in Salisbury
Sunrise out our bedroom window in Salisbury
A bit of the quaint Salisbury
A bit of the quaint Salisbury

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Some random amazing doorway...
Some random amazing doorway…
Look at that roof!
Look at that roof!
Just something ridiculously picturesque...
Just something ridiculously picturesque…

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This was just a bit of our incredible breakfast by chef Michael Riley. Oh, and did I mention that he has this fantastic dog, almost twice the size of the biggest Newfoundland I've ever seen? It was like petting a big, happy, long-haired bear. I would love to go back to this place.
This was just a bit of our incredible breakfast by chef Michael Riley. Oh, and did I mention that he has this fantastic dog, almost twice the size of the biggest Newfoundland I’ve ever seen? It was like petting a big, happy, long-haired bear. I would love to go back to this place.
Mmmm...
Mmmm…
Our lovely room
Our lovely room

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Street market downtown in Salisbury
Street market downtown in Salisbury
Not your average shopping architecture
Not your average shopping architecture

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This is one of my favorite photos from our whole trip. Along with the next dozen of the exterior and the cloister.
This is one of my favorite photos from our whole trip. Along with the next dozen of the exterior and the cloister.

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This is a tiny cast of the Medieval town
This is a tiny cast of the Medieval town

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And this was a model of the cathedral in progress, complete with things like the hut where the iron welding would've taken place and such things like that.
And this was a model of the cathedral in progress, complete with things like the hut where the iron welding would’ve taken place and such things like that.

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And I just loved this.
And I just loved this.

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And I loved this, too. I love this quote from St. Theresa and it has grown really dear to me the last year or so.
And I loved this, too. I love this quote from St. Theresa and it has grown really dear to me the last year or so.
The cathedral had sunflower bouquets (although fake) everywhere. The only flower big enough to fill a cathedral...
The cathedral had sunflower bouquets (although fake) everywhere. The only flower big enough to fill a cathedral…
Rosemary, covering a wall as tall as me. What?
Rosemary, covering a wall as tall as me. What?

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This was one of our drive-by shots of Avebury Stone Circle
This was one of our drive-by shots of Avebury Stone Circle
Right after Avebury we passed this field with tall stacks of hay bales and Mike came up with some hilarious-but-now-forgotten name for them, along the lines of "Hay-Henge."
Right after Avebury we passed this field with tall stacks of hay bales and Mike came up with some hilarious-but-now-forgotten name for them, along the lines of “Hay-Henge.”
This next series of photos is from The Kilns, C. S. Lewis's lovely house and grounds, restored in the last couple decades and now home to visiting scholars.
This next series of photos is from The Kilns, C. S. Lewis’s lovely house and grounds, restored in the last couple decades and now home to visiting scholars.
This was Lewis's stove, the center of life in his house since it kept them warm.
This was Lewis’s stove, the center of life in his house since it kept them warm.

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The ceiling of this room is painted a mustardy yellow-brown in order to capture the color it would've been due to all the tobacco use over the years. This was the room where he and Warnie would read together, and they would toss cigarette butts or dump pipe tobacco right onto the floor. Ever thought of Lewis's house as a bachelor pad? Yikes!
The ceiling of this room is painted a mustardy yellow-brown in order to capture the color it would’ve been due to all the tobacco use over the years. This was the room where he and Warnie would read together, and they would toss cigarette butts or dump pipe tobacco right onto the floor. Ever thought of Lewis’s house as a bachelor pad? Yikes!

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If you've watched the 1993 Anthony Hopkins / Debra Wenger Shadowlands, you will recognize this spot. The attic where they filmed the poignant moment between Lewis and his step-son after Joy's death.
If you’ve watched the 1993 Anthony Hopkins / Debra Wenger Shadowlands, you will recognize this spot. The attic where they filmed the poignant moment between Lewis and his step-son after Joy’s death.

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The lady on our tour who took this photo shook the camera, but I had to include it anyway: this staircase was built by Lewis when Mrs. Moore lived with him. Her bedroom was adjacent to his and you couldn't access his without walking through hers. So his way of handling the impropriety was to build a fire escape staircase into his room, and there it still stands.
The lady on our tour who took this photo shook the camera, but I had to include it anyway: this staircase was built by Lewis when Mrs. Moore lived with him. Her bedroom was adjacent to his and you couldn’t access his without walking through hers. So his way of handling the impropriety was to build a fire escape staircase into his room, and there it still stands.
The Kilns
The Kilns
The Talkhouse, where we stayed
The Talkhouse, where we stayed
Christ College
Christ College

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On High Street
On High Street
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One thought on “August 9: Salisbury to Oxford

  1. You took some marvelous photos, Susan! It was nice to see Salisbury in the sunshine, as I was there in the driving rain in England’s wettest year, 2012. And I have the same photos of The Kilns! Of course it is much nicer now than it was when CSL was alive. How wonderful of you to share all this…I never seemed to have the time, and do not know now to make a blog yet. Bravo! Love, Aunt Pink

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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