Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon: Trip Notes

On the road in the UK: Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon

Pouring down with rain, overcast as we left London at 08:30.  But amazingly, weather totally changed on the way to Oxford, and arrived to blue skies, shirt-sleeves, sunny 24. Sweaty work carrying heavy bag as it was surprisingly humid; anyway, the first day is always a “break-in” day.

Shot the Radcliffe Camera (a building) with blue skies, last time we had grey skies and overcast, so that was good. Went down to Isis to shoot punts. Light wrong direction but could get some highlights as punts came out of Merton bridge arches by going down to river on Botanic Gardens side. Helen noticed people on tower of St. Mary’s Church, so we went in, paid our GBP3.00 each and climbed up straight away. Very narrow spiral staircase at top, only one way up and down, leading to very intimate encounters with people coming in the other direction. The walkway round the tower is similarly narrow, and when you have gone round the four sides, you have to retrace your steps and go back the way you came; again, this leads to intimate encounters! But great shots over Oxford. Hopefully I’ll be able to merge them into a panorama. N.B. When I came down there was a queue of 30 or so people waiting to go up, so you could have a hefty wait if you’re unlucky.

Poked my camera through the blue iron gates of Trinity College to photograph the peaceful gardens, then shot the cross (stone cobbles) marking spot where the three bishops (Cranmer, Ridley, Mortimer) were burned at the stake: it’s easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there in the middle of the Broad.

After Oxford called in at Bladon Cemetery to shoot Churchill’s grave. Classic Cotswold country church and graveyard, check it out, it’s worth the stop.

On to Stratford, catching Anne Hathaway’s Cottage on the way (exterior only, no time for more). Shoot from the gate on the road or back near the small bridge across the river if you can’t get closer. Brilliant sun in Stratford, quite hot – I was amazed.  Checked out Shakespeare’s birthplace on the street.  Nice job of restoration, but no photos allowed, although no signs, seemed to be more honoured in breach rather than observance. The attendants will pull you up though if you’re too obvious.

We’d covered the town before so didn’t go for more shots of the narrow boats and statue of Shakespeare with a few of his famous characters down by the river, but instead headed for Holy Trinity Church. Fortunately, evening service had just finished so we could get in to see Shakespeare’s grave, the previous time I tried it was closed (normally last entry is 4:40 pm). By the way, if you’re caught short there are public toilets in the river park near the church.

Lots of walking today, quite exhausting in the humid weather. It’s important to pace yourself at the beginning of a tour, as othewise you’ll burn out by the end. The same goes for getting shot-happy and firing off too many exposures at the start, I’m a bit prone to that.

On to York tomorrow, weather forecast pretty ordinary.

Tony Page

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