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.
~Rumi

Thursday, 27 November 2014

SOME OF MY FAVORITE 
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IS IN 
THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY SHOP
LOCATED IN THE SOUTHEAST
CORNER OF THE
OLD SCHOOL'S QUAD.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Beautiful Christmas cards with scenes from Oxford.

St. John's College


Punts on the River



St. Edmund Hall

Friday, 21 November 2014

Oxford's Covered Market at Christmas





Oxford's Covered Market has been standing, tucked in between Market Street and the High Steet, for over two hundred years.  It's filled with the sights and smells of flowers, butchers, fish-mongers, bakers, fresh fruit and vegetables, leather shoes, woolen sweaters, and Cotswold lavender. Whenever I'm out shopping, even though I might not need anything from the shops in the market, I walk through just for the wonderful smells.  




Walking in off Market Street, Cardew's tea shop on the left greets you with a heady mixture of Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and delicate coffee smells. Then Brown's Cafe on the right mixes in it's all day breakfast, followed by the Oxford Cake Shop's vanilla and marzipan.  And that's just the first corner hallway.  Most of an afternoon can easily be spent wandering through the halls, from tasting luxury chocolate to getting a haircut, and from trying on a pair of riding boots to buying Oxford Blue Cheese.


The Covered Market is a magical spot
throughout the year, but it's at Christmas that the market really shines and comes alive.  As the season of Advent begins, the halls of the market start filling with lights, Christmas trees, red-bowed wreaths, and boughs of mistletoe.  Each week the bustle increases and the racks that hang from the ceiling over the butcher shops start to fill with the kind of fat geese and turkeys that would make Bob Cratchet's children clap with joy. By the time Christmas arrives, the market feels like stepping back into the world of Dickens, and you almost expect to see Tiny Tim and Bob coming around a corner.









As Christmas draws closer, along with venison, even a wild boar appears at a butcher's door.  It will grace the Queen's College high table during their Boar's Head feast. 







One of the most popular shops in the Covered Market is the cake shop, at the north-east corner of the market, where they craft very special, one-of-a kind cakes for weddings and celebrations. Their artistry has grown in the 25 years since they opened and their windows are often lined with tourists taking pictures and marvelling at their skill, as they craft cakes that look too beautiful to cut into.





There are nearly 60 shops and restaurants, ranging from bespoke hats to Oxford souvenirs, sandwich shops and chocolatiers, to a pet shop, children's clothing, and jewelers.






The Market is located between the High Street & Market Street, and Turl & Cornmarket Street. Opening hours are Monday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm, and Sundays 10am-4pm.







Thursday, 20 November 2014

Goodbye to Autumn

It's flown by like the bicycles that fly down Holywell Street,
 but it's been a beautiful Autumn in Oxford.  



The Christmas Season starts tomorrow 
when Oxfords' Christmas lights come on. 
The tree in the Bodleian's Old School's Quad 
went up yesterday and will be lit up  tomorrow.




Tuesday, 18 November 2014

New College Choir


Oxford Advent
and Christmas Music


One of the things I love most about Oxford is how much world class music is available to enjoy almost every day of the year.  Sometimes I don't even have to buy a ticket.  I walk by Merton College, down Grove Lane, and hear the organ scholar or the choir practicing.  I walk by our neighbor's window and hear his glorious violin, sopranos ride by on their bicycles singing their latest piece of music, and I've even sat outside the Sheldonian for a time and listened to Mozart. But there's no other time like Christmas for music in Oxford.



Tom Quad, Christ Church

CHRIST CHURCH COLLEGE
CHRISTMAS MUSIC
ADVENT CAROL SERVICE
NOVEMBER 29, 6PM
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND NOT TICKETED
BUT BE SURE TO ARRIVE EARLY

CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERTS
DECEMBER 12 & 19, 8PM

CHRISTMAS SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS
DECEMBER 23, 7:30PM
DECEMBER 24, 3PM

TICKETS AND INFORMATION AT

Merton College Chapel
MERTON COLLEGE ADVENT CAROL SERVICE
4PM ~ DOORS OPEN AT 3:30PM
FREE TO THE PUBLIC



MAGDALEN COLLEGE

MUSIC AND READINGS FOR ADVENT
NOVEMBER 30 AT 6PM
ADMISSION IS FREE BUT TICKETED

CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT
DECEMBER 6 & 7, 6PM
TICKETED ONLY

FOR TICKETS CONTACT: choir@magd.ox.uk




NEW COLLEGE
CHRISTMAS CONCERT IN AID OF FAMILY LINKS
DECEMBER 11, 7:30PM
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

New College Choir

Friday, 14 November 2014

Oxford Christmas Shopping




"Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, 
and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful"
    ~Norman Vincent Peale





Next week the Christmas lights will be 
coming on over Oxford and the 
'dreaming spires' will take on an even dreamier 
glow, as sparkling bicycles fly high overhead.

THE BICYCLES THAT FLY OVER THE HIGHT STREET ARE REAL ANTIQUE AND
VINTAGE BICYCLES STRUNG WITHHUNDREDS OF FAIRY LIGHTS.

On most days during the year I try to get my shopping done early in the day.  It seems as though locusts move through Marks and Spencer early in the day and if I leave it too long, by the time I get there the shelves can be bare, sausages sold out and not a berry to be found. But by late November and in December I leave my daily shop for later in the day, just so I can shop with the Christmas lights overhead.

 
Lights shine over St. Aldate's St, with
Tom Tower in the background.
One of the things I like best about shopping in Oxford, other than I don't have to even get in a car and I can walk everywhere, is that I never have to set foot in a shopping mall like we have back home. Instead of fluorescent lights, mall music, and recycled air, in Oxford there are street lamps, twinkling Christmas lights, flying bicycles, fresh air, and dreaming spires set against the dusky sky.


Oxford's High Street and it's magical flying bicycles.

The other thing I like is that I don't have to set foot in a chain store if I don't want to. Even though Oxford has all the usual High Street suspects, there are more shops to choose from than M&S, Primark, Next, W.H.Smith's, and Top Shop--you just have to know where to find them. These are just a few:

The Bodleian Library Shop can be found in the corner of the Bodleian Old Schools Quad, with books, cards, and beautiful Oxford gifts.

Christmas tree in the centre of the Old Schools Quad


Open on weekends only during December, the Oxford Botanic Garden Shop sells gardening books and tools, guides to the medicinal plants found in the botanic garden, postcards, toiletries, gifts, and children's books.  Admission is also free during the winter months.



If you're going to visit Christ Church College and Cathedral during your Oxford trip, also visit the Cathedral shop in the Chapter House.  You'll find Christ Church Cathedral Choir CDs, books, gifts, as well as Harry Potter & Alice in Wonderland gifts.


Lincoln College against the beautiful
backdrop of the late afternoon sky.

The Ashmolean Museum Shop is filled with beautiful fine art posters and cards, special clothing, jewellery, gifts, and books.

And then there's my favourite, the Blackwell Bookshop An iconic fixture on Broad Street, Backwell's opened it's doors in 1879, selling books in one twelve by twelve foot room.  It now stretches up and back into a rabbit warren of rooms, with books ranging from textbooks to rare and antique books.  I'll be spending a lot of time in there, especially in the wonderful children's section.  It's easy to get lost in time and space within the magic of Blackwell's and it will be pure pleasure to search for books to give and some to keep.  Blackwell's has always been a haven for, "those who come in from the noisy, cobbled street to find quiet and invitation, not so much spoken as conveyed by the friendly spirit of the bookseller, to scrutinize and and handle the books on the shelves without any obligation to buy."  


Blackwell's also has a wonderful poster and art shop on the corner of Broad Street and Turl Street. The Blackwell music shop has been moved into it's main store on Broad Street, and has the best selection of Christmas CDs from all the Oxford colleges.



Hear Oxford's ghostly
past as night falls
and shadows lengthen.
Be sure to stop by the blue gates of Trinity College too, and join one of Stuart's walking tours which run every day at 12pm and 2pm, and his special late afternoon Ghost Tour at 4pm.  You can also buy tickets online here, or Stuart offers gift vouchers for Christmas gift giving; email him at stuartoxford@hotmail.com.



Broad Street



Thursday, 13 November 2014

Late Afternoon Light


 I love walking Max in the late afternoon this time of year.  I see the curve of the street lamps and the soft, misty light and understand how C.S. Lewis created Narnia, Tolkien created the Shire, and how Philip Pullman created Lyra's world.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Lingering Autumn Days

"Once a year go someplace you've never been before."
~The Dalai Lama


A hidden corner of Oxford ~
 a cottage tucked into the trees 
at Christ Church Meadow.




Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Remembrance Day at Holywell Cemetery

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
From Laurence Binyon's (Trinity College, Oxford)
poem For the Fallen,  written in September 1914




Stuart, Max, and I made sure we were standing at Ronald Poulton's wooden cross at 11am today. As we stood, the bells of the college chapels rang out all around us and there was a single gun salute from Magdalen College.

Ronald was with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and still lies in Belgium where he fell on May 5th, 1915.  His cross was brought here to Oxford, to Holywell Cemetery near where his sister lies. Every year we make sure to mark and remember his sacrifice and, even with our lone and simple flowers and poppy, it's so very moving to stand in quiet remembrance as the bells toll.



JOHN GORKA ~ 'LET THEM IN'


by John Gorka
"Let Them In was made into song by John Gorka from a poem found in a hospital in the Philippines during World War II. The nurse that found the poem kept it all these years until the recent war brought out all the memorabilia. Luckily, her daughter sent a copy to John"

Let them in, Peter
They are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires
Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired by the sun not wartime's
Bloody guns
May their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die
God knows how young they were
To have to die
So give them things they like
Let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands not golden harps
To these our boys
And let them love, Peter
For they've had no time
They should have trees and bird songs
And hills to climb
The taste of summer in a ripened pear
And girls sweet as meadow wind
With flowing hair
And tell them how they are missed
But say not to fear
It's gonna be alright
With us down here
Let them in, Peter
Let them in, Peter
Let them in, Peter
..............................................
John Gorka, all rights reserved


Monday, 10 November 2014

Stop by and take a look at our new website,
finished and launched last week.
HOLYWELL BED AND BREAKFAST



One of the things I love most about our B&B is that it allows my creative juices to constantly flow--which is a very good thing when you're running two small businesses. Websites, and rooms, and flowers, and dishes, and towels, and even front doors need constant updating and refreshing. It takes a steady flow of creativity to keep a business thriving, especially a small one, but I found early on that I may get tired of the laundry at times, but I never tire of the creative part of all this.




This week I'm breathing (more like heaving) sighs of relief after giving birth last week to two big projects I've been working on.  Creating a new website and redoing the All Souls room bathroom, and we're very pleased with both.  And now if you'll excuse me, Stuart and I are going to have a much needed evening of relaxing, putting our feet up, and watching the most mindless movie we can find. In the meantime I hope you'll stop by our new website or even better, come and knock on our front door and stay awhile.








Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A Quintessential British Night~Bonfire Night


"Remember, remember, 
the 5th of November."





Tonight Oxford is ablaze with bonfires 
and fireworks for Bonfire Night and 
Guy Fawkes Day, as the full moon 
rises over the city.

The full moon rising over All Souls
as Stuart and I walked home tonight.


Full moon on New College Lane,
under the Bridge of Sighs.