As 2014 is drawing to a close, Stuart and I can't help thinking about what a wonderful year we've had here at No. 14 Holywell Street. We're thinking back and remembering all the special people that have come through our door, while looking ahead--wondering what the New Year will bring and what new friends we'll be sharing our beautiful city with.
When I think back to spring I just think about flowers--and mostly daffodils, as the dark winter days give way to their bright yellow. They usually appear first in our window boxes and in the bike outside that leans against our front window.
|Garden at Hill Top Farm|
|Late evening walk in June.|
Summertime brings busy days for us and this summer was no different--guests flowed in and out; graduates returning for their degree ceremony, Downton Abbey or Inspector Morse fans here on a pilgrimage, conference goers, and first-time travelers all were greeted at the door by Max and I. Stuart's tours went from what seemed to be dawn to dusk, and the evenings were long--perfect for punting, Pimms, tending flowers, and Shakespeare in the college gardens.
|Shakespeare in Wadham College Garden|
|Welsh Station Master|
After the heady days of summer we were ready for our September break and off we went again, this time to the back of beyond of Wales. We took narrow-gauge trains that wound their way through the valleys and up into the mountains, a dolphin cruise off the Ceredigion coast, had stupendous blue skies, and again, didn't smell like bacon or sausage for an entire week. Sheer bliss.
Then it was Michaelmas Term and Fresher's Week in Oxford, and students descended upon the city with the autumn colors. It's the golden time of year, when the leaves and autumn sun burnishes the Cotswold limestone into a deep and tawny gold.
Which brings us to these days leading up to Christmas. Christmas lights and trees started appearing all over the city, mornings became frosty, students were trundled back home again, and Christmas music filled the air in Oxford. The year ends with The Messiah at the Sheldonian, Advent Carol services in college chapels, Christmas Carol concerts performed by angelic choirs, carolers on Cornmarket Street, a Christmas Market on Broad Street, and the 'Cold Moon' over the dreaming spires.
|Advent Carol Service|
|A Christmas celebration in a college dining hall.|
|The Covered Market at Christmas|
And now today our suitcases are packed, our 2014 booking diary is full and put away, and we have the month ahead to enjoy family and friends back in the U.S. We'll bring in the New Year with all of them and then come back home to Oxford, home to this city we love so much, excited to see what 2015 will bring.