A Little Bit Closer. 10th October

Aristotle Bridge to almost Isis Lock

We must be in Oxford

Our two days at Aristotle Bridge would be up today, so after breakfast we pushed off and nudged our way just that bit closer to the city centre.

Debby from NB Chuffed had given us some handy hints on the moorings further along. As we pootled we discussed our options.

1 We could stop at the back of St Barnabas Church, this is very close to railway lines therefore noisy.

2 We could head down to the far end of the canal where the road cuts off the original route. There are 2 day moorings there and a waterpoint. The trains are further away so it is quieter, but the proximity of the road and a resident cat may not be so good for Tilly. Mick had been concerned that the depth may be a problem, but we’d now seen some boats up there.

3 Which way should we face when we got there? Which ever ‘there’ was to be?

St Barnabas

We opted for pulling up near St Barnabas Church to see how noisy it was, if it was bad we could then carry on to try at the end. The occasional train came past, but not as many as we’d been expecting. So we decided to stay put for the night. The rail traffic is mostly freight, which of course continues through the night so we still had the option to move on. Tilly was allowed out and seemed to prefer here despite the many people on the towpath.

Plans were formulated for tomorrow as I am heading off to see how the build of the Panto set is going. It looks like my route will mean that Gemma the Production Manager will be able to join me on the same train as it goes through Bristol where she lives, so we can have a catch up and chat over various things before we get there.

Shh. Don't tell TillyOld railway swing bridgeMick and I had a walk into town via the station so that I could pick up my many tickets. This meant we walked along Snake Island, we’re not going to tell Tilly about it just in case. Then we passed  the old railway swing bridge that crosses over the Sheepwash Channel which leads out to the Thames.

SquashAn artist's impression of the covered marketThe covered market was first on our agenda today. Many shops of all sorts in a good building, not quite as stylish as Leeds. This meant we were close to Whittards so I was able to stock up on my morning brew. The Bank was visited to check for Mick’s new credit card and that had arrived. Great, not much other than sight seeing to keep us here now.

Trinity College

A visit to a college was next, plenty to choose from as most of them open their doors in the afternoons so that tourists can have a good nosy. The entrance price varied quite a bit between them, we decided to see what Trinity College was like, a cheaper one, most probably because it hasn’t appeared in Harry Potter, but is a location in Morse, Lewis and Endeavour. We paid our entrance and the lady buzzed the gate to let us in.

The ChapelThe CollegeTrinity was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope and even though it is physically large it only has 400 students. Originally it was a male college but since 1979 it became co-educational. Some of the buildings date back to 1421 when it was Durham College. Large gardens surround the buildings including some very large trees. The central quadrangle focuses on a raised grassed bed, the chapel and dining room to two sides and staircases lead off to student rooms on the other two sides.

The ChapelBaroque CherubsThe chapel is quite small but it’s decoration more than makes up for it. It was the first chapel to be built in the Baroque style, designed by Henry Aldrich with advice from Christopher Wren in 1694. As you walk in the organ towers above you, then you walk through a screen into the chapel which more or less consists of a choir. Virtually all wood, ornately carved with bulls, men and cherubs who seem to have a big problem with cowlicks in their hair! Some of the wood was Oak, the pillars pine (I think), but much of the rest of it I wasn’t sure of, Frank Matthews would have been able to tell me, but I guessed at maybe mahogany. What a splendid room. Trinity has one of the largest choirs in the university mostly from members of the college.

How much ketchup?The dining roomWe sneakily followed a group of French students into the dining room as there was a sign saying no entry. Here a large room very much as you would expect with the top table and then rows for the students. It had a slight shabby feel to it despite it’s ornate chandelier. Thousands of food trays have worn tables down through the decades. The walls are hung with portraits, at the moment they are all women, quite a few photographs of past students who’ve made it big in their profession. I assume these are here to help mark the centenary of women getting the vote. The photographs do look at little bit odd in such a room where oil paintings normally hang, but not as out of place as the very large dispenser for Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

P1420400smChalked up to gradually fade awayThrough the next arch way are entrances to the staircases leading to the student rooms. The college obviously has rowing teams and chalked up on the walls are various years in which they ‘bumped’ other colleges. If this had happened at my school it would have been classed as graffiti and we’d have been reprimanded. But here it is obviously tradition.

A wander around some of the shops in the Westgate Centre meant that I found a bag suitable for me to take a weeks worth of clothing to Chipping Norton. We’ve not needed anything this size for a while and it had to be able to fold down into next to nothing for storage under our bed.

Back at the boat Tilly went out and carried on enjoying her new surroundings. She was particularly interested in the semi sunk boats on the Castle Mill Stream which sits just behind us. This kept her busy far too late and I had to try to find her and encourage her home. Yet every time she surfaced from the sideways trees and brambles she’d carry on trotting up the towpath in the direction of Banbury. Eventually she tired and I managed to catch her, having to carry her back along the towpath for quite a distance without her escaping again.

0 locks, 0.63 miles, 1 proof on it’s way, 2 return tickets saving £200, 3 packets tea, 1 credit card, 1 market, 1 college, 3 hours, 6 boats, 1 surprised man on a bench, 5 trees, 1 chair, 5 minutes clinging onto a busy cat, 6 minutes out.


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