Papa Bouilloire Goes to Oxford – Chapter the Fifth
In which so many things have happened that I scarcely know where to begin.
I awoke to the raucous melodies of my phone alarm to realise that I had slept until 7.00am! Leaping athletically from my bed I found the lengthy sleep had restored my beauty and I dressed with exquisite care in preparation for the Oxford antique markets. I flaneured my way down the high street and arrived as the vendors were arranging their tempting trestles.
I eschewed a French inkstand of dubious provenance and a bronze French jewellery casket (beautiful but exorbitantly priced)and after several hours of contented browsing left with a charming studio pottery bowl, which later transpired to be one of the last productions of the Doulton Lambeth factory, and a perfume box in walnut with satinwood stringing and “Odeurs” beautifully inlaid in satinwood on the top. Both were remarkable bargains, and the box, once polished, will grace any “Odeur” placed therein.
As ever duty bound, I had been invited to accompany the students from St Catherine’s to Blenheim, so after a sumptuous repast at the local Subway, thither went My Esteemed Colleague and I. A comfortable coach drew up and whisked us away to Woodstock. Soon thereafter we were at the remarkable threshold of that mighty Duke of Marlborough.
Tour guides could explain in more detail and accuracy the Palace itself, so I shall be brief. Each room was astounding in its size, proportions and content and I walked through in awe, drinking deeply of the décor. A knowledgeable guide treated us to anecdotes about the history and people who dwelled in the halls of the mighty, and we saw the very spot where Winston Churchill had made his first entrance onto the world stage. The guide spoke in a rich plummy accent about the Meissen dinner service and the graveyard in which is buried many of the Churchills and those before while the students examined their phones in the hope of detecting “free Wi-Fi”.
One of the crème de la crème of youthful academia (not thankfully one of ours) sniggering dirtily, jostled a friend in the great assembly room and said, “Look at that!” I looked up. There on the wall was an enormous painting of splendid execution and proportions. A masterpiece of breathtaking beauty. I was bemused. It was not of nudes, there was nothing suggestive in the bucolic scene. I finally identified the source of his interest. Beneath, a simple plaque said, “Van Dyck”. O tempora! O mores!
Another day of perfect sunshine ensured that the grounds were seen in glorious perfection and my colleague and I wandered about admiring the different views until I determined that I wished to see the maze. My fellow educationalist lay in the sunshine while I went off in search of the labyrinth but ended up at the bottom of a huge overgrown cliff dotted with dilapidated picnic tables, which gave an exquisite view of the lake and bridge, and allowed me to spend an uninterrupted hour pretending I was the only person in the world. White swans disported themselves amongst the water lilies and I quietly hummed that charming madrigal “April is in My Mistress’ Face” as an appropriate accompaniment to the scene while contemplating the cow slips which grew profusely in the lush grass. Finally I groped my way back to reality up the cliff I had fallen down and emerged just in time to catch the coach back to Oxford.
A short sushi dinner at the nearby Japanese restaurant left us sustained for the rest of the evening which consisted of typing reports but thankfully I had my “odeurs” box and fragments of ancient glass and pottery before me on the deep windowsill and Magdalen College silhouetted in the background through the leaded panes of the windows. The bells had stuck 1.00am before I pulled up my lumpy duvet and drifted off into the arms of Morpheus.
As I am off to view yet another of Oxford’s wonders “The Kassam Stadium Car Boot Sale” tomorrow I must leave here to ensure I have sufficient stamina to cope with the walk to this cultural wonderland.
I append a short synopsis of the next thrilling instalments…
Chapter the 6th – A Red Letter Day
I repent the Jacobite Glasses, a stroll through the meadows, exhaustion sets in, Tour of Christchurch. Snubbing the plebs, The Chippendale stools, What to wear?, We eat dinner At Christchurch, The Sherry decanter, The Dean, The silver salt cellar, The Don’s private night tour, The Don’s humble abode, Magdalen Tower and the leads, Magdalen Smoking Room.
Chapter the 7th
Papa Bouiloire Goes to Stonehenge and Bath!
Wherein is recorded how I trod in a cow pat.
You can view past chapters of Papa Bouilloire’s Oxford adventures by clicking on the links below.