I’ve been to Oxford for a couple of days this week, a favourite place of mine. We did a little clothes shopping, much looking at shoes, many meanders around the city, and re visits to our favourite places. The Botanic Gardens is one such place; I’ve seen it twice in early spring so it was good to visit in late summer, to see some of the empty beds full and verdant. I love it there any time of year; here are some images.

The gardens are not huge, just the right size in my opinion, and the River Cherwell runs along side them. If you are of a slightly evil nature, which of course I’m not, there is a certain amount of entertainment to be gained from watching people attempting to punt the rather oversize craft…

At this time of year you can marvel at the enormous Victoria amazonica lilies, in the Lily House. I think they can grow bigger, but the largest here was about 1.5 m across.

Naturally I took many images, well, nearly 500, not just of the Botanical Gardens. Don’t panic, they’re not all on my blog, but they will serve as reference material for future work. This is as close as I get to a jungle, I’m sort of the Birmingham version of Le Douanier Rousseau, but not famous, or a customs officer.

I love an old water butt.

A gateway at the gardens and some views of the vaulted ceiling in the tea rooms at St. Mary the Virgin, one of the best places for a tea break. It features in Lewis frequently. Yes, I do watch Lewis and shout ‘I’ve been there!’  Sad but true.

Which leads to another favourite watering hole, the Turf  Tavern, where they are very welcoming, as you can see by the fish finger sandwich my friend ordered. [Home made ffs too.]

About 25 years ago I went to the Pitt Rivers Museum, and at that time, as it was a day trip, just walked through the Natural History Museum. This time, although I was out to convince my friend of the wonders of the Pitt Rivers [she agreed] I was more interested in the Natural History Museum. It is absolutely glorious, sort of old fashioned, ie lots and lots to look at and no interaction stuff, which can be overdone, as they have admitted at the Natural History Museum in London, but also with funky displays and much wit. I seriously need to live in Oxford, I could go there every week; 3 hours there only chipped at its surface.

It’s a glorious building too, stone, glass and metal; also leaking in the rain storm we were having. I love bones, and use them in my work increasingly, and this was a bone lovers paradise.

One of the elephant skeletons on display. Many of the animal exhibits were very old, and I am aware that they were collected in a way which these days we would not find particularly comfortable or appropriate.

One of the many display cases.

And some details of some of the displays.

A beautiful echinoderm, one of the many carved capitals, and a fossil nautilus shell that had a fascinating brocade like pattern on its surface.

And here is a view of the Pitt Rivers Museum, from one of its two galleries. There are other exhibition areas too, as it’s had quite a re vamp since my last visit. You could spend thousands of hours there and still find things you hadn’t seen on each visit.

And now outdoors; the three quarter Moon over Oxford.

Walking to the station to come home, a rainbow. We had one sunny day, and one wet one, which is quite a result for an English summer break.

8 thoughts on “Enthusiastic

  1. What a great post Steph. Some of those images are into the garden for me, I had not gone sideways into public gardens, got stuck on my own garden so am bubbling a bit more now.
    Could I print a couple off for the course as inspiration?
    Sounds like a lovely day out

  2. Of course you can, I can send you the full size images if you like. I may use a few of these myself before the course, if I have time, I feel the need to make something more colourful. Let me know and I’ll zip some for you.

  3. Yes,I had not thought of public gardens,I went to the Eden project and took some lovely tree photos,I will have to find them for you and shelagh.

  4. Well , it definitely looks like you had fun! Apart from the shoe shopping I would have loved to have been trailing around behind you. Last time I went to Oxford was for a trip to the Pitt Rivers a couple of years ago and it’s uncanny to see that we took the same sort of photos. All those gorgeous insects and seed pods. In the NHM there was a lonely looking spoonbill specimen I fell in love with and a block of obsidian marble which had patterns in it to die for. Makes me want to revisit on my summer hols which are this week and next week. Who knows? As a PS I really valued that comment you made the other week about the ‘think, make’ syndrome and I’ve been doing lots of things since then, not necessarily with a view to a finished item, just ‘doing’. After reading Clive’s latest green man type post yesterday I did a foliate head in some old screen printed fabrics I was about to throw away and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment Steph. It was a real motivator

    1. I’m really pleased it was a useful comment Lesley, it’s a syndrome I’ve noticed a fair amount through teaching. Always best to just do it than over think a project, and never let the fact that you think the work won’t be perfect stop you from experimenting.But you know all of that already…
      Hope you get to Oxford, to re visit your poor spoonbill! I forgot to mention in my blog that they have some live creatures there too, a tarantula, some wonderful large stripy beetles, and an enormous amount of cockroaches…[in a tank, they seemed rather contented.]

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