Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Oxford places ...

I’ve been taken aback – nothing new there – no plan and now I’m in catch up mode ...

Port Meadow - above

Oxford skyline from Boars Hill
I have a guest post up at Stephen Tremp’s blog on Professor Stephen Hawking – I thought it was tomorrow ... oh well ... how about some Oxford Places – this is where Hawking began his academic career and is the town that holds some happy memories for me ...

Where best to start – at a watering hole, a 16th century beer-house, and a place where writers met to discuss literature and life:

The Eagle and Child, St Giles, Oxford, meeting place of the “The Inklings” a post war writing group, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein ...

The pub is in St Giles – a wide avenue lined on both sides by London plane trees.  Cattle and sheep used to be driven along St Giles to the drinking pond before going on to market round the corner.

Christchurch Meadow
Or how about a walk along the Thames, in Christchurch Meadow, on Shotover, or Boars Hill – there are many very good walks, cycle paths and ancient forest rambles within Oxford, its valleys or hills surrounding the city itself.

Port Meadow is an area of common land.  The right of people to graze their animals on the land free of charge is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and horses and cattle still graze there today.  

Port Meadow has never been ploughed, is treasured for its wild flowers and the fritillaries in particular.

The Snake's Head Fritillary - the county flower of Oxfordshire

We need to finish with an inspiring conversation at one of the many pubs for a few beers, a glass of wine, a plate of pub food or move along to a fine dining restaurant – or just home after a contented day out.

Please remember to visit Stephen Tremp's blog:  BreakthroughBlogs where you will find novels containing murder, mayhem and a wormhole - enjoy your read ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


  1. Hi Hilary...loved your guest post at Stephen's blog. Great pictures. Christchurch Meadow looks wonderful.

  2. Port Meadow sounds amazing, it all does. Would love to go check these places out :)

  3. Loved your guest post about Prof Hawking!! Yay!!

    Aww thanks for the pub recommendation in Oxford! Nothing like a fab pub grub with great beer to finish off an inspiring and inspired day! Take care

  4. Hi Hilary, Never been to Oxford this was just great. I will pop over to Stephen's blog to read your guest post.


  5. I would love to be in a writing group with CS Lewis and Tolkien.

  6. Putting Oxford on my to-visit places! Now to go check out your guest post...

  7. I used to be married to an Oxford graduate. He was always going on about the 'Bird and Baby', which is, apparently, what the students call the Eagle and Child!

  8. Even though its early here and I'm barely on my first cup of coffee, that steaks looks mighty tasty! Now I want steak and eggs for breakfast. If I'm ever in the area I'm definitely stopping by The Eagle and Child.

  9. @ Rachna - many thanks and so pleased you enjoyed the Oxford tour.

    @ Anna - great to see you - welcome. It's just having that unploughed land where it's practically pristine .. hope you will be able to visit one day.

    @ Old Kitty - thanks re my guest post. We had lunch there before Jenny (my mother's cousin) gave her lectures to a few societies within Oxford University last October. Good food ..!!

    @ Yvonne - thanks .. it's a place worth visiting if you can get there.

    @ Blonde Duck - it would be so interesting to listen in to CS Lewis' and Tolkien's conversations wouldn't it ...

    @ Karen - excellent - and you'd love it .. so much history! let alone literature ...

    @ Anne - yes you're right it's also popularly known as the 'Bird and Baby' pub .. not sure why though!

    @ Stephen - oh well - sorry about the steak not being available .. and good that you'll be adding the pub to your list of places to visit - Oxford has some fine sights ..

    Thanks everyone - lovely to see you here and there .. enjoy your day - Hilary

  10. Wow, that steak looks so delicious. Sounds like a nice day out at those spots. I already went to Stephen's blog and enjoyed your article on Hawkings. You are a wealth of information, my friend.

  11. You did well for someone so taken aback Hilary!I am playing catchup myself to some extent at the moment - now to read your guest blog :-)

  12. Hilary -- I loved the guest post and this accompanying post. I didn't really know a lot about Stephen Hawking, but I know more now. It's cool he began his career at Oxford. I've visited there with my daughter, but didn't know that fact:~(

    Oxford is beautiful. The roads are bit tricky if you try to drive, but it is a lovely place to visit.

    Thanks for sharing this:~)

  13. @ Clarissa - now it's nearly supper time - I agree! Oxford is a wonderful place - full of all sorts of venues, countryside etc .. Great that you went over to Steve's blog too - thanks ..

    @ Deborah - the brain suddenly twigged and I used a few blank cards I brought back with me to jog my own memories of Oxford. Thanks to you too for popping over the Stephen's blog ...

    @ Sara - every time I think about Oxford I think about you and your daughter's visit .. and Oxford is beautiful - I've certainly forgotten my way round .. but walking in the centre is very easy.

    I was pleased that I could write about Stephen Hawking and it's nice just to bring a few things together on his life - bring that human side in ... I didn't know he'd started at Oxford either ...

    @ Kat - yay .. go physicist-groupie - thoroughly enjoyed your post over there ...

    Cheers and thanks so much for visiting everyone and for your kind comments over with Stephen's blog .. Hilary

  14. Great post! Thanks for showing us around Oxford. Lots of good information here, and I'm an information junkie. Loved your guest post about Hawking, too.

  15. I had so much more to say and then I saw the steak and fries. I am hungry and now I must go make something tasty!

  16. I've been to Oxford, many years ago. Missed going into the pub though. Bummer.

  17. "Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physical." This is such extraordinarily good advice, isn't it? And if Hawking was able to do that, there is hope for us all.

  18. Hi Hilary - I just came from reading your post over at Breakthrough Blogs...very interesting.

    And...here you've added the icing. What a lovely post and more wonderful bits of knowledge to be had. I am quite intrigued with Port Meadow never having been ploughed...it must be a sight to behold, in person.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

  19. Hi Hilary,
    You bring back a few memories with this article on Oxford and surrounding areas. Much of it, very familiar to me. I recall being in a certain pub with my cousins on a Friday night in Oxford. Yes, Friday night and some rather tipsy university students...I shall leave it at that.
    I shall, time permitting check out your guest posting on Stephen Hawking. Coincidentally, Professor Stephen Hawking was at the Science Fair Geodesic building in Vancouver during Expo 86 at the same time as me. However, it was Stephen doing the lecturing :)
    Take good care Hilary.
    Or as you say, "cheers".

  20. Hi Hilary, this bought back some memories. I only went into the Eagle & Child a few times (and it had a rather less polite nickname which I won't repeat here). My usual watering hole was The Turf - very tricky to find down those narrow alleys!

  21. Going over to read your post at Breakthrough Blogs- murder, mayhem and wormhole sound intriguing!


  22. Hi Hilary, thanks for showing us around Oxford. Lots of useful information! Beautiful post.


  23. @ Susan - delighted you enjoyed both posts .. Oxford is always good for a look around.

    @ Holly - I hope you had something tasty to eat - perhaps from your new Tea Book you've just put up as an ebook ... ?

    @ Alex - a good excuse to come back? A new pub to find!

    @ Susan - Exactly as you say ... if Hawking can do it then frankly we all can .. "Don't be Disabled in Spirit, as well as physical" -- talk about looking on the bright side of life ...

    @ Jenny - great to see you (sorry I can't reciprocate on your blog - embedded comments and all).

    Glad you got over to Stephen's blog - to read about Professor Hawking .. a gentle wander around Oxford is always enticing.

    Port Meadow is as it looks above - it's just the fact the land hasn't been touch for over a 1,000 years is botanically important. I must try and find out more ..

    @ Gary - I've been there too .. though I wasn't at the University .. I hope you have a chance to read the blog post on Hawking. Interesting you were both at Expo - and you must have had that scientific interest back then. Good to see you and thank you so much for your kind words.

    @ Ian - many thanks I remember you were at Oxford .. and I'm sure there are many impolite nicknames for places around Oxford .. The Turf is a good pub too - very pubby .. Good to see you.

    @ Riya - thanks for visiting Stephen and for commenting here ..

    Thanks everyone - lovely finding your comments .. cheers Hilary

  24. It's a wonderful place full of history. I just love my Oxford English Dictionary. The sound of those words on my tongue excites me. Oxford English Dictionary... they make you feel like you're stepping out on a journey, finding out something new and being able to tell other people all about it.

    Another great posting, Hilary, thank you.

  25. Such a gorgeous place, Hilary! Makes me want to hop on a plane and check it out personally especially Port Meadow.

  26. I love the Eagle and Childe! Heck, I love Oxford. Headed over to Stephen's now!

  27. @ Marinela .. Oxford is beautiful I agree!

    @ Jarmara .. Oxford has its fair share of history scattered around it! While the Oxford English Dictionary journey would be fun to follow along - I've always wanted to learn a new word every day .. sadly just doesn't happen.

    @ Talon - well we're always here .. and I'll come with you to Port Meadow ..

    @ Talli - ah! the pub .. and yes almost time for a glass of vino! Oxford is just great isn't it ..

    Thanks everyone and for visiting Stephen .. and reading about Professor Hawking .. cheers Hilary

  28. Hi, Hilary,
    Visiting your blog is always a treat. I'd love some of whatever that is - steak and chips??

    That buildings continue to hold up today after so many hundreds of years is always a source of amazement for me.

    Thanks for the tour.

  29. Hi JL . thanks so much - delighted to hear you enjoy the read .. yes Steak and chips & beer! Or shall I order some wine for you?

    Architecture is quite extraordinary isn't - and the buildings - cathedrals, palaces and castles that have stood for centuries - like you I am amazed. The knowledge and workmanship are quite extraordinary ..

    Oxford is the gleaming spire city .. glad you enjoyed the tour - cheers Hilary

  30. My wife's from Oxford--Oxford, Massachusetts, that is. I'd love to visit England again someday.

  31. Hi Hilary.

    While reading this I found myself wishing I could have sat in one of those 16th century meetings with other writers. I could sense the flavour of those meetings and believe I would have enjoyed them.

    The Snake's Head Fritillary is beautiful. It's a humble-looking flower, with a more delicate appeal than others.

    I could go for some of that steak and fries right about now. Winter weather is still hanging around and that would be great comfort food.

    Hope you are well, my friend.

  32. Shall we meet in Oxford and have a leisurely pub meal?

  33. I was just over at your guest post. :)

    Nice pictures!

  34. Congrats on the guest post!

    Stephen always has interesting tidbits about science and his novel. When I read your blog, I get a little taste of England. :)

  35. Beautiful meadows and a great looking steak :) Prof Hawkings is an amazing man.

  36. Thanks Hilary for the amazing tribute to Dr. Stephen Hawking! Its amazing how popular this guy is. People love him. He's mentored so many people over his career so his legacy will live on through his numerous students who will be involved in more breakthroughs and discoveries in our lifetime.

  37. That looks gorgeous. I'd love to meet you at the pub for a glass of wine, good food, and inspirational conversation. I know I'd love your company for a few hours.


  38. @ Richard - ha ha .. yes wrong Oxford. I hope you can get over here again for a visit ...

    @ Davina - great to see you .. it would be so interesting to go back in time and listen to these great literary geniuses wouldn't it.

    Glad you like the Fritillary .. my uncle had lots in his garden and I loved being amongst them when I was gardening.

    I gather the weather has been odd with you too .. hope Spring arrives soon .. you cook up a good warming supper though, I've read that somewhere! Email on its way.

    @ Friko - sounds like an excellent idea - one day, sadly ... brilliant thought though.

    @ GE - glad you enjoyed your visit to Stephen's and the guest post.

    @ Susan - many thanks. Yes - two worlds apart aren't we .. Stephen and his science, while here I usually post about England or its history.

    @ A Lady's Life - many thanks, lovely to see you here.

    @ Stephen - he's very well known isn't he .. and obviously very charismatic - I'm sure he'll leave a large legacy in many ways - scientific and as an example to us all.

    @ Donna - that sounds a very enticing idea .. I'm sure we can make a plan one day ..

    Thanks so much everyone - enjoy your day once the thick mist has cleared ... I guess you have it too - warm days and cold nights. Cheers Hilary

  39. What a lovely post -- so English. I miss is all. I have some good memories from visiting Oxford as well.

  40. Hi Inger - yes Oxford in the 1960s was pretty amazing too .. and I'm so pleased you had a chance to visit .. good to see you back - many thanks for stopping by from your Canyon.

    Cheers Hilary

  41. I've never been to Oxford but it's always held a certain fascination for me. I love fritillaries. We used to have some in our garden but they've disappeared.

  42. Although I lived in Oxfordshire for almost 10 years, it was only when I met blogger friend Anne that I really got to see it properly. She knew the place like the back of her hand and it was great, I saw so much. Keep well Diane

  43. Lovely photos, Hilary! It would be wonderful to come and visit. :) hopping over to Stephen's place now!

    Have a great weekend,

  44. @ Ros .. it's not far from Leicester .. one day perhaps. Fritillaries are just beautiful aren't they - sorry you've lost yours in the garden ..

    @ Diane - interesting isn't it how we find our way round and learn so much from blogger friends.

    Glad you had the great tour of Oxford - lucky you ..

    Thanks Ros and Diane - so good to see you.. cheers Hilary

  45. @ Karen - it would be a pleasure to be able to show you around .. glad you enjoyed this tour though - enjoy the weekend - Hilary

  46. Oxford is a beautiful place - you've made me want to go back.

  47. Hi Hilary
    Oh so beautiful. I would love to visit all of Britain. The pub looks amazing and brings to mind that today, many writers meet at coffee houses. It's hard for me to concentrate with too much noise, though. Hawking is a local guy. Some love him and others don't. I'm late but I'll try to catch your post.

    Take care,

  48. To amend my comment on Hawking being a local guy, he taught here at the University of Colorado for a time.

  49. @ Patsy .. Oxford always draws us in doesn't it .. a good place to visit once your amazing summer has been successfully celebrated ..?

    @ Nancy .. Hawking is an amazing chap isn't he - always up for opportunities - like a visiting professorship. Thanks for commenting at Stephen's blog ..

    Now-a-days coffee shops or internet cafes seem to be where people go to write - but like you I'd struggle with the noise.

    Great to see you Patsy and Nancy .. cheers Hilary

  50. I will definitely pop over to S. Tremp's blog - murder mayhem and a wormhole are just what I need. Also interested in your Stephen Hocking post. Cheers!

  51. Hi Melissa .. I'd have thought you have enough mayhem to keep you going at the moment! Thanks for commenting over at Stephen's blog .. good luck with all the finalities you're going through .. Have a good weekend - Hilary

  52. I saw an interview with Hawking about 2 years ago.it really was amazing how he kept going and thinking with the incredibly difficult health issues..enjoyed your article! Enjoyed the tidbits about Oxford as well, sounds really wonderful!

  53. This is another place I would absolutely love to visit!

  54. @ Matthew - great to see you and thanks for popping over.

    @ Scarlett - Hawking has made great inroads for us all - and like you sets examples for us all to handle life under difficult circumstances. Oxford is a wonderful place to visit - one day perhaps ..

    @ Amy - it's certainly a good place to have on your bucket list of places to visit and a must if you come over to the UK.

    Great to see you all - thanks Matthew, Scarlett and Amy .. cheers Hilary

  55. Hi Hilary,

    Congrats on the guest post!

    Port Meadow sounds like an amazing place. These free green spaces are so under-rated and need to be appreciated and celebrated.

    Nice work!

  56. Hi Chase .. good to see you - I'm sure the fact that Port Meadow lies untouched for over 1,000 years - must offer botanists, scientists etc a wonderful place to research, watch, and record for future natural scientists.

    Glad you enjoyed the post - cheers Hilary

  57. Beautiful photographs, Hilary. I especially like the steak and chips. They're making my tummy growl.

    Off to see you at Stephen's. Happy St. Patty's Day.

  58. Hi Joylene - good to see you - blogging always seems to make us hungry wherever we are!! Cheers have a happy Sunday .. Hilary

  59. Steak, fries, and red wine--the way to my heart. There's an Irish pub I really like here. It's an actual one--run by Irish people. They overcook the steak for me (I like it RARE), but they make excellent fries and fried fish wrapped in newspaper.

    Thanks for this post. Now I'm hungry!

  60. Hi Theresa .. mine too - though I don't steak and fries too often, red wine another story! Fish and chips - the old fashioned way wrapped in newspaper .. delicious and brings back happy memories ...

    Me too - and it's lunch time .. off for my salad. Cheers Hilary