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

Friday, 15 July 2016

A Walk in the Parks--The University Parks

The cricket pavillion and pitch at the 
University Parks,
perfect for a game of frisbee with Jack.

"Now shall I walk or shall I ride?" 
"Ride," Pleasure said: 
"Walk," Joy replied. 
~W.H. Davies

Am I glad I live in Oxford because I have wonderful places to walk my dog? Or am I glad to have a dog because he gets me out into the wonderful places to walk in Oxford? The answer must be both, because I can't imagine not spending my day walking Oxford--or living without a dog. 

Jack normally gets three walks a day, in every
season and in any weather, and one of his and our
favourite places to walk is the University Parks.

Make your feet your friend.
~J.M. Barrie

'The Parks' as it's known in Oxford, is a 74 acre park that is part arboretum, part cricket pitch, part botanical genetic lab, and part playground, with the River Cherwell marking it's eastern edge. The first trees were planted 1865 and perfect specimen trees dot the landscape and line the pathways.

In the warmer months, punts flow up
and down the River Cherwell, sometimes
with a traffic jam, Oxford style. 

The parks has a perfect cricket pitch and pavilion
where world-class cricket is played, open fields
for soccer and rugby, and grass tennis courts.
People are outdoors enjoying sports and being
together just about any time of the year-even in winter.

Dogs are more than welcome......

....and there are lots of wide-open spaces
for tossing sticks, toys, and frisbees.

Jack meets new friends
with every walk. 

These two beautiful corgis have come
all the way from New York to spend a year
living in Oxford. Aren't they lucky dogs?!

The invitation to play.

Summer is for punting on the river.
Punts are the classic Oxford & Cambridge
boat, steered from the back, just right for
a leisurely trip down the river.

The Parks are also a great venue for outdoor
Shakespeare.  'Hamlet' is being performed there
from now until August 13th. Jack wasn't too
sure about the ghost of Hamlet's father as they
rehearsed, so he didn't want to stick around for
long, but Stuart and I will be going back on 
Tuesday night. That's one of the best things  
about Oxford in the summer months--
outdoor Shakespeare.

After a day's walk everything
has twice its usual value.
 ~George Macauley Trevelyan

And then there's the best part--ice cream!
What's a summer walk without an ice
cream cone? Jack has a tiny vanilla
one and Stuart & I each have a mix 
of blackcurrent & clotted cream plus
lemon. Pure heaven. I have three scoops
because two simply isn't enough.

Someone is pretty happy at the
prospect of their ice cream cone.

Here comes mum's 
towering cone. Can
she eat it all?

Just the ticket after playing and 
chasing after the frisbee. 

One of the things the British do best is preserve their open spaces and countryside. To still have open spaces, on what is essentially a very small island loaded with people, is a bit of a miracle. It shows the supreme foresight of people like Beatrix Potter, who bought up huge swathes of land in the Lake District to preserve it, and Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter, and Hardwicke Rawnsley (a close friend of Beatrix Potter's), who founded the National Trust in 1895.

Because of that same spirit of conservation, which runs likes a deep well through the people and the country of Britain, Oxford too has acres and acres set aside for parks and open spaces, right within minutes of the city centre. The largest is the University Parks, which was first formed between 1855 & 1860, after the land was purchased from Merton College.

 Many of the trees date back to the
original plantings in 1865,
just after the purchase of the land.

Enter the parks via gates along South Parks Rd, Norham Gardens, or a main gate on Parks Rd. It's a walking park, so no bicycles are allowed, whether ridden or walked. For ice cream, in our opinion a necessity for summertime walks, find JimBobs at the Pavilion right next to the cricket pavilion in the centre of the parks. And be sure to look for Jack!

Springtime in the Parks.

Watching the cricket--just a little bit like
American baseball where I'm from, only
they stop for tea breaks.

Oxford v Cambridge Cricket

What's better than a walk
in the park with your Nana.

Autumn in the Parks

If you are seeking creative ideas,
go out walking. Angels whisper to
a man when he goes for a walk. 
~Raymond Inmon

Narnian lamplight at 
near 'Parson's Pleasure',
in the University Parks.

To book tickets for 'Hamlet' in the Parks go to:


  1. So many enchanting things about this one! The corgis playing and Jack looking on, just adorable! And the ice cream cone! Cute! Cute! Gorgeous, gorgeous parks. The Cricket reminded me of the Downton episode! It is a bit like American baseball. The lamp post, is that "officially" a tribute Narnia, or something you call it. What is the significance of Mesopotamia? Something to do with the ancient civilization, I suppose. Love all of it!! Just taking a break between work, so perfect timing! xoxo

    1. Hi Jane ~ for some reason Gremlins were afoot today and unpublished the 1st post with comments from people and republished a new one. Go figure! The lampposts are everywhere and have been for a long while, so were definitely inspiration for the Narnian lampposts. They even line the cycle paths. The area called Mesopotamia in the Parks was named long ago and I've never found the source of it, other than it was probably named by Oxford classicists and ancient historians. It's the area between the main park and and the river. And sorry your first comment was lost!!! xxxCarrieooo

  2. artistswriter15 July 2016 at 20:08
    Absolutely lovely and peaceful. Evening walks are perfect. Ice cream was big summertime treat and many stands in New England, too. Loved it. xo

    1. Sorry had to repost your comment since it disappeared into the ethers above. xxxooo

  3. Karen Peterson15 July 2016 at 21:55
    Beautiful places you have for your walkie, Carrie! I love the Narnia lamp post. Can imagine C.S. Lewis walking past this and using it as his inspiration. 😙

    1. He definitely used all the lamp posts as his inspiration. They're classic Oxford. xxxooo

  4. Hi Carrie,
    What a lovely post and I so enjoy all of your photos. So beautiful! I am going to read back on your blog and try to catch up. I am trying my best to get back into blogging and catching up my blogging friends. I have actually blogged a couple times this week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. xoxo

    1. Hi Pam ~ So happy to see you here and glad you enjoyed the photos. We're on our way over to see Hamlet in the Parks in just a bit. Should be a glorious night, as it's a hot summer day today. Blogging is such a great way to connect with one another and thanks for stopping by. Love from Oxford xxxCarrieooo

  5. This is a gorgeous post, Carrie! I know that I would be sorely tempted to forget about returning to the States were I able to visit there! Jack is certainly well-rewarded with that tasty ice cream!

    1. Thank you Nellie and thank you for your kind thoughts. And you're so right--Oxford tends to get under your skin and you don't want to leave--or you come back as soon and as often as possible. Hopefully one day you'll see for yourself. Love from Oxford xxxCarrieooo