The Ashmolean Museum sits on Beaumont Street almost opposite Oxford Playhouse. It is the world’s first University Museum, originally built in 1678 to house curiosities given to the University by Elias Ashmole. A new building was erected in the 1840’s and in 2009 it had a major redevelopment. Ancient artefacts housed in large Victorian rooms with modern sliding doors and modern staircases.
You could most probably spend all day wandering round the galleries, but we selected what we were interested in and headed straight to the top of the building where Monet, Pissaro, Burne Jones and Sickert paintings hang surrounded by many many more. The collection is quite something with a large room dedicated to the Camden Town Group and Sickert who was one of the most influential and controversial artists of the 20th Century. He lived in Paris for some time mixing with the likes of Degas. When he moved to London this rubbed off on his fellow artists and a trend of painting suburban landscapes and modest interiors began using bold strong colours inspired by the Post Impressionists.
I tend to walk into a room and see which painting catches my eye first, jumping out from the wall and calling me over. The rest of the paintings, sculptures are looked at first, some slowly, others merely passed by leaving the best until last. One such painting by Vilhelm Peter Karl Kyhn entitled From Kolding Fjord caught my eye. The light on the water creating a mist rising in the distance and the shadowy boats and piers, just wonderful and calm (my photo doesn’t do it justice).
Lunchtime called and we decided to go looking for Morse and Lewis at the Turf Tavern tucked away close to the Bridge of Sighs and the Sheldonian Theatre. Have to say I was very surprised that we could get a table, but the queue was as I’d expected. Mick opted for a sour dough ham and cheese toastie which looked very tasty whilst I struggled to find anything without bread, they had run out of their jacket sweet potatoes. There was only one thing for it but to have some chips and a side of coleslaw to make it a little bit healthy.
We enjoyed sitting out in the sun with the bright blue sky overhead. No sign of the famous Thames Valley detectives. We considered creating a murder scene to see if we could flush them out, but neither of us was willing to die for the cause. We’d not quite realised how big the pub actually was, it stretches back with so many rooms. I’d hate to think what the queue would have been like mid summer! Not only are there connections to Morse, but also Harry Potter and Bill Clinton, as this is where he allegedly ‘did not inhale’ an illegal substance.
A meandering walk around the University brought us to the River Cherwell that we have followed down to Oxford. We decided to walk northwards along the river to then cut across back to the canal. Easier said than done as few paths follow the river and fewer bridges cross it. In the end we stayed on the West bank and followed the river through the University park. Numerous in depth conversations passed us, were these students going to be those who solve modern world problems in the future?
The park was full of children when we got back. It took Tilly a couple of hours to pluck up the courage to actually step off the boat. But she soon returned to safety and to watch the squirrels, a cat and two people sitting having drinks in their garden enjoying the last of the sunny days rays, wrapped up warm in coats.
0 locks, 0 miles, 0 bridges, 1 museum, 2 many paintings, 1 Tortoise straining, 1 painting bomber, 3 rooms of plates, 4 mummies, 8 men with beards, 1 pint, 1 glass of wine, 1 toastie, 1 bowl chips, 0 Morse, Lewis or Hathaway, 0 college grounds today, 0 riverside walk, 4 punts, 1 litre milk, 1 dismayed cat.