Saturday, 29 October 2011

following keble, lucy's dragon, lock, treasures, biztro

















When I walked down the Oxford canal yesterday morning, I followed a College Cruisers narrowboat named Keble--strangely comforting and appropriate on a somewhat bleak misty day, I thought, given that I was an undergraduate at Keble. The things that keep me amused!

Following a narrowboat, you realise at what a gentle pace these boats travel. I'd catch up with Keble then stop to take a picture. The boat would glide off round the next bend but when I started walking, I'd soon catch it up again. Hopefully, the three photos above give a sense of the urban canalside environment in Oxford. Some stretches are rural enough for you to imagine you're in the countryside, especially in summer when the foliage is thick, while others are more like Docklands in London.

The big--and to my mind rather successful--development shown in the bottom pic stands on the site of the old Lucy's iron works, which I remember from not that long ago (honest). When we lived in Oxford I used to walk the opposite bank in summer and every once in a while the kilns would be lit, glowing in the twilight, fans roaring like dragons and heat belching across the water. It was a dramatic sight that felt like it belonged in another age.

On the College Cruisers' website by the way, Keble is described as, 'Our most compact boat. Cosy, comfortable and a must if you are looking for a few days away with the one you love!' Which sounds great, I have to say. Ironic, though, that the boat is the smallest, given the vastness of the college it's named after.

I have to admit that although I set scenes in The Lock on a narrowboat and have had supper with friends on their barge, I've never travelled on one. Perhaps a short break on Keble will be a good way to start. Serendipity.

Meanwhile, today I had to make an unexpected trip into Oxford to give a tour of the Bodleian to the Brazilian Minster of Justice and his party. It was a pleasure not just to talk about the library but to have the chance of spending time in the Divinity School, Convocation and Duke Humfrey's with the autumn sunlight streaming through the traceried windows. After the tour we visited the fabulous Bodleian Treasures exhibition. A must see. Great website too!

Meanwhile a new brasserie opens up in Bampton today called Biztro. There's an open/taster day there this afternoon and evening. Will check it out later.

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