Graduation – Oxford March 2016

On a lovely bright sunny Saturday, my Dad, the Boy and I graduated as Master of Arts in the beautiful Sheldonian theatre.

The ceremony is all about tradition.

The Oxford MA is a relic of the Middle Ages when students would study for seven years, after which they would be able to teach, and become a full member of the university (and at some colleges walk on the lawns). It therefore predates ‘taught’ Masters qualifications. Oxford BAs can have the MA conferred on, or after the 21st term after entering the university.

Now that I work at Blackfriars, it’s useful for me to have the MA, as there are still various administrative bits and pieces you can only do if you have MA status. However, the day was about more than that. It was a chance to celebrate our achievements, and remember all the people who had gone before us.

Although Dad went to Magdalen, and Adam and I went to St Hugh‘s, Fr Richard Conrad OP kindly took us through under Blackfriars’ wing.

It was lovely that I could graduate with my Dad, who only did it to make me happy (although he did get a good party afterwards).

It was an unexpectedly moving day. A big thank you to all our friends and family who came, and to Sandy who catered a brilliant party at Cornucopia afterwards.

[Photographs by David Hunt]

Happy May Day!

Our first beautiful sunny day in ages to greet the May. On my way to catch the bus home this afternoon, I happened upon these Border Morris sat behind the Playhouse, singing and playing purely for their own enjoyment (and very good they were too). 

Art Deco Beauty

I often forget to look up, but today I glanced up at this beauty.

She can be found on the front of the Odeon Cinema, on Gloucester Green in Oxford. A timely reminder to be ‘mindful’, in the moment, and not just bustle on with life with my head down, thinking about what I have to do next.

The Painted Room – 3 Cornmarket St

Behind the 18th C facade of 3 Cornmarket St, is the remains of a 16th C house, with a preserved Elizabethan painted room. Thanks to the Oxford Preservation Trust, I had a guided tour today.

It’s thought that the paintings date from between 1564 and 1581, when it was a private house occupied by John Tattleton, a tailor and local dignitary. The ‘painted room’ would have been the principal bed chamber. A painted room like this, was the cheaper alternative to wall hangings.

Later, the house was the ‘Crown Inn’, run by John Davenant, a friend of one William Shakespeare. It’s thought that Shakespeare would have stayed in the room when travelling between London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

The tour guide repeated some Elizabethan scuttlebutt, viz. Davenant’s son William, was in fact Shakespeare’s, the evidence: he was called William; Shakespeare was his godfather; John Davenant was a grumpy old cove (unlike his wife); and William Davenant became a famous poet. Now if said son has been called Horace, and after his birth Davenant and Shakespeare had never spoken to each other again…then I might have thought there was something in it. It makes me MAD that poor Jane Davenant’s reupation is still being traduced.

The room has been clearly restored in places…

…but there was still a wonderful feeling of touching the past…and that’s even with electric sockets and cat5 cabling!
Let’s hope that now the OPT has taken over the room will be open to visitors more often.

Temptations…of a book kind

I was on may way out to dinner last night, when I spotted this book shop at the end of Walton St.

It was obviously run by kindred spirits….

…but it had to wait. How could I stand the Regent up?

Sun, sky, stone…


Lots of people complain about the weather in Oxford.

However, on these clear, cold Spring days the sky is beautiful.

The sun brings out the glow of the stone.

A Few Questions…

Does this busker have the toy dog because his real dog is sleeping?
Is it my imagination or do they put the wellies on when it’s about to rain?
Racoon hair extensions? Made from racoon, for racoons?

To be a tourist…Blenheim

Ah…the English summer…with the lovely black clouds.
We have some relatives visiting from France at the moment, so we toddled off to have a look at Blenheim Palace.
The answer to the question “who lives in a house like this” is someone vulgar!
That said, they do have their own post-box.
There are lots of lions…this one looks rather taken aback.

Obligatory arse shot.

For Joel…

The distinguished Joel has a lovely engraving of Worcester College (his alma mater) with the ruins of Beaumont Palace in the foreground. The last remains were destroyed when Beaumont St (where my office is) was built in 1829.
This (vandalised) plaque is all there is to show that a royal palace was once there.