Date: 4th October 2023
Travelled: 200 kms from Cranbrook to Oxford
Stayed: The Red Lion at Marston, free, N51.77230, W01.23730
Budget: 133 days @ €96 per day
After a sad goodbye to John and Linda we set the GPS for Fernhurst in West Sussex.
It’s a long drive across southern England along a series of narrow A roads. Returning to England only serves to remind us how bad the roads are here. Rough uneven surfaces and sunken road plates. Honestly it’s almost third world after 3 months or so in the EU.
We spend the evening at Fernhurst’s Red Lion pub with Anne and Simon doing our last catch-up for this trip.
Cold overnight, but a sunny morning in Fernhurst as we set off for our last walk around this beautiful village.
Then we set the GPS for Oxford. Anne suggest we keep away from the A3 M25 junction due to some long running roadworks, so more A roads.
We park behind the Red Lion in Marston on the outskirts of Oxford with plenty of time to get settled and catch a bus into central Oxford. 10 minutes later and £2 pp lighter we arrive.
Oxford is one of the world’s most famous university towns. Our guide book describes it as a place of privilege. Oxford University is the modern town’s life blood, however it’s divided into colleges which are scattered throughout central Oxford all seemingly housed in a series of grand honey coloured stone buildings. Oxford is also the home of the car maker, Morris. Its Crowley plant once one of the largest motor plants in the world. Now part of BMW, Minis are still produced here in significant numbers.
Off the bus we make for the Pitt Rivers Museum. Hidden out the back of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (free entry) we find the Pitt Rivers collection.
The museum of natural history is itself worth visiting just to admire the beautiful 19th century gallery of cast iron and glass and entry is free. A collection of genuine dinosaur skeletons fill the space.
Out the back the Rivers Collection, a dust magnet if we’ve every seen one. An amazing and eclectic collection of artefacts from all over the world. The collections don’t follow a common theme or cultures, more on the subjects as diverse as ‘treating the dead’ and ‘feathered head pieces’. We finally found a cabinet on Australian Aboriginal Art which appeared to be our only contribution. The pieces from central Arnhem Land are well worth the search.
We escape the Pitt and walk further into the city centre and the Ashmolean Museum (free entry). According to our guide book the Ashmolean is Britain’s oldest museum and second only to the British Museum in London for its collection.
The museum is huge but given the time of day we go for an abridged visit focusing on the Egyptian and Roman galleries. We can only look in wonder, what’s left in Egypt considering the Louve, Vatican and British Museums ?
It’s certainly a spectacular collection, beautifully presented in open well lit galleries with extensive information panels.
So that’s it our afternoon in Oxford done. The streets are buzzing with young people presumably escaping lectures, meeting friends or heading for the pub. We return to the #14 bus stop via the mall and make our way back to the Red Lion and the Hymer.
We always enjoy a drink at the Red Lion (you probably already gathered its a common pub name), we chat away to the publican and an old fellow who lived and worked in Tasmania for many years. We’ll continue west tomorrow.
Michael + Pam