Vacation Days in England

We took three days of vacation, May 21-23, in and around Oxford.

The weather, unlike a previous forecast, did not include rain. Thursday and Friday had some sunshine;breezy and chilly. Saturday was full sun.

At the town of Beaconsfield we visited the Bekonscot Model Village and Railway, a replica of English buildings and scenery. The buildings are two or three feet tall, complete in many details. You walk among the scenes, feeling like a giant of some sort.

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Next we went to Oxford and took an open-top bus tour around the city. I was especially impressed to see the
Martyrs’ Memorial.

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This is a tribute to the three Protestants who were burned at the stake on Broad Street – Bishops Latimer and Ridley in 1555 and Archbishop Cranmer in 1556 – under the reign of Queen Mary, a Roman Catholic. To me the saddest contradiction of all is when Christians kill other Christians for their beliefs.

That evening we went to the home of our friends, Chris and Katharine Thompson, who live in a residential area of Oxford. We spent three evenings and overnight with them.

Next day, Friday, we went to nearby Blenheim Palace, famous for its connections with Winston Churchill, who was born here – quite by accident; his parents happened to be staying here at the time! Churchill visited here often, since the estate was owned by his uncle, and later by his cousin, the Dukes of Marlborough.

The Palace is immense.

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We toured several parts of the palace, but not the wing where the current Duke of Marlborough lives.

The grounds look natural but, in fact, are carefully landscaped.

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At the lake I saw a great-crested grebe, a new species for my life list.

Great Crested Grebe10 Milton CP 27.03.2008

This superb photo is from the Cambridsgeshire Bird Club website.

In the cafe of Blenheim Palace this quote of the day was posted on the wall:
All wisdom is not new wisdom. -Winston Churchill

On Saturday we toured the town of Oxford again, starting by walking along the Thames River, where we saw college rowing teams preparing for races the following weekend.

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We visited Christ Church College, where John and Charles Wesley were students in the 1700s.

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Everyone (which includes John but not JoLene) is interested in seeing the majestic dining hall, which was the inspiration for the dining hall of Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter movies.

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Later in the day we returned to Christ Church Cathedral for Evensong, a service of Scriptures and hymns, some read, some sung by the men’s choir, and with two hymns sung by the congregation.

On another street we went to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and climbed the 124 steps of the tower for a spectacular view of the city in all directions.

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The tower also provides the best view of The Radcliffe Camera (what a name!), a domed Baroque rotunda, part of the Bodleian Library. The Library, not the rotunda, was founded in 1320.

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We ate dinner at The Mitre, a large pub and classy restaurant on High Street.

And that ends our vacation.

On Sunday, May 24, we returned home, well rested, full of memories and stories, and grateful to God for the varied experiences of life.

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