Well we all enjoyed our Sunday roasts and puddings at The Jolly Boatman, who have recently acquired 5 stars on the “Scores on the Doors” for their excellent food. While everyone returned to their boats for an afternoon snooze I made some boat cake to take up to nb Alnwick as Graham and Jane had invited us along with Maffi and Bones for drinks. GC (Ginger Cat) was being very sociable and allowing us to stroke him. He was a homeless cat who used to roam the railway platform, until he was adopted by Graham and Jane, now he has settled down happily to life on board. Except for the times when he forgets which side the towpath is as he jumps ship for a wander!
By bus from Thrupp, Oxford is about an hour away and a very busy route it is too. First of all we took a detour to Oxford Airport which is a pilots training school. The bus drops you in Magdalen Street and the first interesting old building was this Saxon Tower built in 1040. Behind it there is a Fairtrade Shop where I bought a wooden toy for our grandson. Nearby the sound of beautiful country music was coming from a busker with an electric guitar.
Next was a visit to the TIC to pick up a map of the city so as not to get lost or waste time walking the wrong way. Then a quick tour of the shops on route to Oxford Castle where the site has been used as a place of incarceration since 1071, continuing as an HM Prison until it’s closure in 1996. The site has been preserved and open to the visitors since 2006 and I went on one of their guided tours. This building in the foreground was the 18th century Debtors' Tower and prison D-Wing. The other square building behind is the Saxon, St George's Tower which visitors can climb about 100 steps up the spiral stone stairs to enjoy the views from the top.
After much puffing and blowing this is what we saw. The mound on the left is where the 11 century Motte and Bailey Castle stood. The vaulted Well Chamber entrance can still be seen if you climb to the top of the mound. We then descended to explore the deathly quiet 900 year old crypt where some people have had ghostly experiences. Our guide left us in D-Wing, in one of the inmates cells, so that we may explore the rest of the exhibits on our own.
Back to the city centre crossroads where St Martins Church was demolished in 1896 leaving only the tower standing. It is known as Carfax Tower and this is the 17th century Quarterboys Clock which was moved onto the east side of the tower in 1898. In the late 1800’s a horse drawn tramway system operated from Carfax Tower, which is still popular central meeting place. The bells are still in situe and are wrung on special occasions. I climbed the 100 or so steps up the metal spiral stairway to heaven to emerge among the white clouds in a deep blue sky.
My return trip was an hour later than planned as I missed the bus. I was waiting in the appropriate bus shelter but a double decker was obscuring my view of the No 59 which had loaded with passengers and followed the other bus out without stopping at it’s own post! Needless to say I was rather exhausted after all this. We are now moored at Shipton after visiting the services en-route. We noticed that the River Cherwell is running rather fast and has flooded over it’s banks in places.