Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hanging with the smart kids

Being so close to so many interesting cities and sites is one of the benefits we love about London. So into our borrowed car we hopped and onto the wrong side of the road we drove.

Brad said it's not the shifting that's hard (which is the same pattern, just maneuvered with the left hand) or driving on the left (which only feels a little odd on those right hand turns that are now w-i-d-e) but the constant changing of speeds from 20km/hr to 60km/hr while rally driving through an on-going length of chicanes. Because the streets are so narrow, you're constantly pulling over, in an effort to be courteous, and letting the on-coming car pass. The up-side here is everyone waves or flashes their headlights for a "thanks for pulling over", which is a courtesy that's generally forgotten in Victoria.

The town of Oxford is only a 90 minute drive from where we're staying and on the way is the town of Abingdon. A tiny little dot of a city, it once was home to the MG factory. The factory is now gone, but the final MGB to roll off the assembly line is on display in the town's newly opened museum.

The museum is housed in the town hall, built in the late 1700's and thirty feet up, on the third floor, sits the MGB. Many renovations have taken place in the museum, but adding a car-sized elevator was not one of them. The British Motor Heritage group helped to disassemble the car, mostly consisting of removing the engine and transmission to reduce the weight. It was then lifted by crane up and into the third floor via a window with only cm's to spare on either side. It was then reassembled and displayed for all MG enthusiasts to see, like this lass:

The town of Oxford is very compact, with cobblestone streets winding around amazing historic buildings educating the elite of Britian. Varsity shops are filled with navy sweaters, crested ties and wool scarves representing each college in town.

Here's a snap looking down one street. The farthest back is St. Mary's University Church, covered mostly by the Radcliffe Camera (library with the large dome) with the Bodeleian Library in the foreground. The latter two are the main academic libraries for Oxford university. As the Bodeleian is a reference library, you are required to recite an oath that you will not remove or harm any books found within.

The Bodeleian Library building is absolutely massive and imposing. And subsequent additions to the building, creating a quadrangle, add to this feel. Here is the original main entrance to the original library, now the Divinity School (and used in Harry Potter films!):

Directly across from this a later addition, the Tower of the Five Orders, creates an imposing entrance from the street into the quadrangle (the five orders are the classical architecture columns in each layer - spot the Doric column level!):

Within this area, we did find Brad's door (Mr. English and History/Social Studies himself):

Further through town is the Oxford tower, used, until quite recently, as a prison. For you British TV fans, Inspector Morse filmed quite a bit here (as well as other parts of Oxford).

This shot of the cell block was used for the filming of the original Italian Job, starring Michael Caine.

And to maintain the historical integrity of the castle, snacks have been carefully chosen for the time period:

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