Saturday, 19 May 2018

London and Oxford

On Thursday and Friday, I had two free days to be a tourist. So on Thursday morning (and with a view to getting in some training for the Camino Levante) I set off on foot to walk from Islington to the British Museum. Not too far - about a 45 minute walk.

I navigated my way thanks to the helpful direction posts with maps that the City of London has erected at various strategic points, and arrived at Russell Square just near the Museum. It is filled with magnificent plane trees, and so this picture is for Pat - our junior (relatively speaking) plane tree in Bruce.

The Museum itself is a little overwhelming - you could spend weeks there, I imagine, and not see everything. I decided I wanted to continue walking so had a shortish visit to a gallery showing a snapshot of artefacts collected (stolen?) from the 17th to the 19th centuries - shelves full of Greek pottery, Egyptian hieroglyphs and artefacts from the Pacific and Australia, among many other things.

Next stop was lunch and then a wander through Fitzrovia and on to Marylebone - past this gorgeous church (whose name escapes me) and this self-effacing shop...

I was in search of Daunt's Bookshop - said to be the most beautiful bookshop in England! Indeed, it was lovely - stained glass windows, beautiful wooden book shelves and a vast and incredibly enticing collection of books arranged by country of author or subject. I bought just one, for the plane journey home!

I then continued on foot back along Oxford St, down Regent St (in full colours for the Royal Wedding) and on to Trafalgar Square.

There I had a little wander in the church of St Martin in the Fields (how's that for an entrance?).

And checked out the wildlife.

I then walked back through Covent Garden, and all the way home to Islington, past King's Cross-St Pancras looking more like a castle than a train station.

All in all, a lovely London day, and a good training walk!

On Friday, I headed up to Oxford to visit a friend who is studying and working as Assistant Chaplain at New College, and also to revisit some old haunts. It was just lovely to see some of my favourite places again and to enjoy Oxford in the spring - the wisteria in full bloom, Christchurch meadow full of flowers and ducklings, and a splendid Ploughman's lunch at The Lamb and Flag.

This is Worcester College (it has it's own lake!).

A gorgeous day culminated with a visit to the garden of Holywell Manor - the graduate accommodation I lived in for a year.

And Evensong at New College, led by Susan and the New College choir, followed by a very splendid dinner at high table.

When Mum and Dad visited me in Oxford in 1991, Dad took a photo of Mum and me in the New College cloister. Here's the 'after' shot!

Today I had my last 'gig' in England - Silence in the City at the Westminster Cathedral Hall. It felt like a really good day - a real depth of listening in those present, and I feel as though all that I've been doing and the deepening of meditation practice bore fruit in the spaces between us today. It's been an extraordinary privilege to participate in the various retreats and events over the past 3 or so weeks, and a really enriching time. Tomorrow morning, early, I head off to Heathrow to join Neil in Toledo - for a week of adventure on the Camino!

Our joint venture will be posted on Neil's blog - Turn to Wonder - if you'd like to follow along!



  1. Good to hear things have gone well and you have experienced some of the fruit of your meditation practice along the way. Love the pics you have posted and what you have shared. That little duck among the grass is delightful. An image of how we endeavour to be when we sit and be in our meditation practice. Just simply being in the present moment.
    Happy walking as you meet up with Neil and journey along the path before you. May it open out to many wonderful experiences and sights.

  2. It sounds like two great days of mooching at the end of an intense and rich three weeks of teaching and leading. And, now for something really relaxing - 120 kms on the Camino Levante. I’m really looking forward to your arrival in Toledo. Don’t forget your walking shoes!!

  3. Wonderful to see the Oxford duckling - the beginning of new life personified (or duckified). Wishing you a wonderful experience in the week ahead.