We’d been to Oxford several times before, but never with a guide. Friends Sue and Michael invited us to spend a couple of days with them seeing the sites that we had not already visited. Fresh from our time in Sheffield we happily donned our hiking boots instead of our Saddle Oxfords, and set out to see more of the town. Fish and water became the theme as we set off out of town along the river on a clear day that quickly turned rainy. To escape the weather we dashed in to the Perch pub for a fireside beer before continuing on along the canal to our ultimate goal, the Trout Inn. More beer and a delicious early dinner followed.
Things turned more academic the next day as we went behind the scenes of several of the colleges that make up Oxford University. Christ Church, founded in 1525, houses the dining hall that is said to have inspired the one used by Harry Potter. Magdalen College from 1458 has beautiful spires and cloisters and Michael took us on a tour at his own school, Balliol, rumored to be the oldest (founded in 1263) and the wisest.
With official visits finished it was time to relax with a pint or two with the first stop at the Bear Inn that claims to be Oxford’s oldest pub with a date of 1242. No one seems to mind that it actually started in 1606, perhaps because the beer is so good. For a lunch of fish and chips we chose the Eagle and Child that J. R. R. Tolkien and other literary figures favored. We were off the next day to London for lunch with friends there and then back aboard the Eurostar train bound for the sunny south of France. Home sweet home.