I woke at 6 to start our pack-up process in the leaving of London. Wrestling 3 teenagers – first from their sleep, and then from their technology left me crabby.
We were 20 minutes later leaving for Oxford than planned but London traffic is pretty good at 7:50 in the morning.
Soon London was long gone and the rolling green hills of an English countryside were all around us.
The outskirts of Oxford look like a normal English village till you hit the university quarter. Towering stone building upon majestic stone building fill the central part of the city; all intricate and a little fearsome.
Oxford lives up to expectation in every way.
We had a plan of what we wanted to see: views and CS Lewis!
Unfortunately the tower Church of St Mary the Virgin didn’t open for ages. I would not be getting the classic shot of Oxford. Sad face. I only got shots on my DSLR, sorry.
We walked instead to the very location where three Anglican bishops were burnt at the stake. A statue marks the spot. Such a surreal feeling. Knowing that Thomas Cranmer was made to watch his friends burn first. For several months Cranmer struggled under the enormous mental stress and made a series of recantations of his former statements. He was given the opportunity to make a final public recantation at the pulpit of the University church.
He got up, preached, and then deviated from the script. He renounced all his previous recantations and pledged to burn the right hand that wrote them first. This said, he was dragged from the pulpit, taken to the place of execution and burned immediately. Witnesses say, he did put his right hand into the hottest part of the fire. Wow!
We left reflective then, looked around and found the lamp post that apparently inspired CS Lewis to write Narnia. The faun statues and the wardrobe eluded us however.
We attended a contemporary church service and then dined at our first real English pub sitting right in the Thames for lunch with Aussie friends.
The clock was ticking away for our slotted time at Stonehenge, still an hour and a half away.
The drive there was pretty and swift.
The tourist facility is not as large as the website makes it appear, but it has a lovely shop full of the most creative Stonehenge-y things.
The Neolithic Village:
Frugal tip: If you plan on seeing a lot of the English Heritage sights; you may save $$ by becoming a member and then accessing all their locations for free.
We are only going to a few, so I ordered our tickets online.
The audio tours were 2 pounds each. I got flustered and after initially buying three, tried to buy more. They took pity on me and gave me the rest free on the family channel of the tour.
We caught a shuttle bus to Stonehenge itself and the audio tour directed us around it.
The audio tour is worth getting. The 10 year old was so excited with all the background information he was hearing as we slowly made our way around the ancient site. Well worth doing!
Note: The toilet water at Stonehenge is yellow- so it looks like the person before you didn’t flush.
We had an hour more of driving to get to our home for the night: Bath. This was also our very first ever Youth Hostel stay! I sensed the trepidation, but it had looked great on Booking.com.
We pulled into the place to park out on the street, gathered up our suitcases and straggled up the hill to the converted Italian mansion.
The kids immediately made themselves at home in the front yard and got rid of their pent-up excess energy. We explored all the facilities. I didn’t see a pool table or games area- but the common room looked nice. There was a restaurant area for meals you could order. Breakfast are £5.50 and lunches nearly £8 if I recall.
The large self serve kitchen had well stocked cutlery plates etc, just a little short on cups/ glasses.
I only saw about 5 guests but probably a few more were still out sightseeing.
Our room, at the top of the building, overlooked the gardens. It’s tired interior was freshened by the lime green doona covers on the bunk beds.
We whispered in darkness for the first hour in our room as Zac had a migraine.
Just before bed, a herd of trumpeting German high school students bussed in and then took some time to settle down for the night.
Their arrival filled the somewhat quiet place to the brim.
Frugal tip: As far as food goes, we have been eating cereal each breakfast, then snacking on fruit, cookies and chips that we have bought at the local shops. Lunch tends to be the cheapest cooked meal around and then I make something for dinner.0