There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Christ Church Meadow

If you've been following along, you'll have noticed that I mention Christ Church meadow throughout the posts. I've never written about the meadow specifically and people have been asking about it. and since it figures so prominently in my life here, I'll try and paint a picture of it .

The meadow itself is triangular, surrounded by the River Cherwell, and the Thames, or the Isis as the stretch that runs through Oxford is known. Christ Church College stands at the top of the triangle, and dominates the skyline as you look across the meadow toward the city.  A gravel walking path borders the meadow on all three sides, so for most of the walk, you have a river on one side and the meadow on the other.

During warmer months, the river is dotted punters drifting slowly down the river.  A punt is a long, narrow, and flat boat that is propelled and steered by a long pole at the back of the boat.  If someone is a pro at punting like Stuart it's very romantic, but if you are new to punting, you may spend a lot of time in the shrubs and trees that overhang the river.

As you walk into the gates leading to the meadow, you're greeted by the War Memorial Garden, which as a quintessential English border, has something in bloom at all times of the year. The garden is beautifully framed by the backdrop of Christ Church's Tom Tower and dining hall.

Walk on and you'll come to the Poplar Walk leading down to the Thames.  There are benches along the way for people to enjoy the view and a broad lawn for picnics and friends to gather.  Cows graze peacefully to your left and you truly feel as though you've left the city behind.  From early spring until late autumn, the trees provide a green canopy as well as a home for many, many squirrels--or as Max likes to think of them, moving targets.

At the end of the Lime Walk lies the Thames on it's homestretch into London.  College crews practice up and down the river and in all kinds of weather.  A good time to catch them is in February during 'Torpids Week', which is one of two 'bumping' races held during the year.  Bumping evolved here because the river is too narrow to race side by side, so the goal is to 'bump' the boat in front of you.  The winner is the "Head of the River", which is also the name of a great pub at the end of the Lime Walk.

Autumn along the Cherwell,
Christ Church Meadow
As you pass the Thames, you come to the River Cherwell, a small tributary that lazily meanders to the Thames, lined with large maple, ash, and plane trees, and also home to ducks, swans and geese.  It's my favorite part of the meadow walk, with it's quiet serenity, the trees gracefully reaching out over the river.

From this vantage point, I can usually spot deer grazing in the meadow and sometimes a fox darting into the undergrowth.  Mostly though it's cows munching nonchalantly, with the spires of Oxford as their backdrop, completely unaware of the lovely scene they are a part of.

As the walk leaves the meadow, heads for the High Street and back to the busy city, the Oxford Botanic Garden is on your right.  From here the path follows along to Rose Lane and then suddenly, to the High Street.  Back to the buses, the bicycles, the tourists and the students that make up the bustling scene of Oxford's High Street.  Christ Church Meadow is a perfect quiet respite any time of year and can be accessed off the High Street through Rose Lane, through Grove Walk off Merton Street, or through the main gates on St. Aldate's.

1 comment:

  1. Suberb- I hope to read Law at Christ Church; this greenery confirms my choice!