NOYHAG

Nottingham Outdoor YHA Group

Event report

A Trip to Oxfordshire (a very Spring like Trip)

Personnel: Melanie (Leading), Barry, Pete, Rachel, Tim, Dave V (scribe)


Friday


By leaving Grantham at 5.30pm we missed most of the traffic and reached Oxford (via the Vat and Fiddle) by 9.00pm. We found the hostel, which was near the railway station, fairly easily. We checked in and while Pete and Tim were settling in, I drove to the Park and Ride and then caught the bus back to the hostel (a five minute journey).


By this time the others had arrived and so Barry, Tim, Pete and myself headed into town. It took a while to find the Eagle and Child pub (recommended by Pete) but it turned out to be a good choice. Looking at the beers on sale I decided to try the Stonehenge Taste of Spring, and I was drinking a pint of green(!) bitter. We found a table free and our attention was drawn to a plaque on the wall commemorating the Inklings, an eminent group of scholars and intellectuals, including JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, who would meet in the back room of the Eagle and child (AKA the Bird and Bone) on most Tuesdays in the 1940's. We then moved to a pub nearer the hostel, where the beer was a more conventional colour. Then aware that it was past 11.30pm and also aware that Melanie wanted and set off early on the morrow, we headed back to the hostel.


Saturday


On Saturday we were all up and about early enough to catch a bus at 9am 1, for the 30 minute journey to Abingdon. It was a very warm sunny day, and the first thing we did after our arrival was to slap on the suntan lotion. After a little difficulty getting our bearings we came to the River Thames, crossed over a bridge and followed the path on the left hand side of the river, all the way back to Oxford.


It was a very tranquil setting. We could watch the boats on the river or enjoy the rolling countryside. From the various birdsong, Rachel was able to identify the chiff chaff, great tit and reed warbler 2. Presently we came to an old public house over-looking the river. It was clearly popular with the locals, but we managed to find a table outside where we could sit and drink and chill.


We then continued for the last mile or so into Oxford (Melanie and Rachel making a minor detour to inspect some truffles 3) and where a main road crossed the river at around 3pm we separated. Melanie had kindly agreed to cook the evening meal so she went shopping 4, Rachel returned to the hostel, Barry Pete and Tim went to a pub while I, never having been to Oxford before, decided to go sightseeing. I visited the 'Monument to the Martyrs' (two archbishops burned by Queen Mary) and the site of their burning which is near by, I looked around Balliol College and paid another visit to the Eagle and Child for some more green beer. I climbed the Saxon Tower and looked at the castle.


Back at the hostel I just had time to shower and change before it was time to eat. Melanie had cooked a lovely Italian meal, and Rachel had produced a sweet too.


It was then time to sample some more of Oxford's nightlife. Mel and Rachel elected to remain in the hostel so, once again Barry, Tim, Pete and I headed into town. Again at Pete's recommendation we went to the Turf Tavern, immortalised in the Inspector Morse Series. It seemed to take forever to find the place but, eventually, after walking down an alley way off a side street we got there. Sitting outside we could see, on display, a list of all the famous people who had visited that particular watering hole. There were numerous actors and politicians but the only names I can now remember, writing this several weeks later, are Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher.


Sunday


After Sunday breakfast Mel and I walked up to collect our cars so we could get everyone's luggage loaded up. Pete decide to give today's walk a miss so he caught the train to Banbury (from where Tim and I collected him later). The rest of us drove to Whichford. We had a pleasant walk across some hilly country side. The walk took us close to Hook Norton which had a (closed 5) local brewery nearby. We had a drink in the picturesque Pear Tree Inn before continuing on our way back to Whichford and the conclusion of the weekend.


I would like to thank everyone who came along for making it such a great weekend and a special thank you goes to Melanie for leading the walks and for cooking, and thanks also to Pete for getting us a discount on our hostel breakfasts (nice one Pete).


Dave V


Notes from Melanie

  1. The boys appeared to have a good night's sleep but the girl's dorm was disrupted by a rather odd lady who effectively evicted me to the top bunk at 1.30 in the morning, stated she never slept and then proceeded to snore very very loudly for most of Friday and Saturday night. She did have other odd habits that I won't commit to print!

  2. It was a beautiful spring day, daffodils waving in the sunlight, trees in bud, blue skies - just warm enough to walk without a jacket. One of those days that make you glad you are a walker!

  3. I know many of you think I'm obsessed with chocolate so I'd like to get this straight - we went to look at the fields of fritillaries (little checkerboard flowers that grow in the grassy meadows round Oxford) which were one of the reasons why I had chosen a walk in Oxford.

  4. and to the Ashmolean - just keep up the cultural tone

  5. Closed only at the weekend - Hook Norton was chosen so that the drinkers among us would get the chance to sample some 'Old Hooky'. I'm not sure I would have chosen this particular location if I had done some advance political research - this was the fortnight before the election and there were large blue posters everywhere welcoming us to David Cameron Land. Arghhh.......

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