On Saturday my sister and I hopped on a train from Paddington to Oxford for a day of culture and exploring. I'd wanted to visit Oxford for the longest time and it was the Blake exhibition currently showing at the Ashmolean that finally got me there.
When we arrived we headed straight to the museum. The exhibition (William Blake: Apprentice and Master), was really interesting. The walls were covered with Blake's work and display cases held some truly stunning illuminated books. They had original copies of the Songs of Innocence and Experience which I could have looked at for hours. As much as the content of the exhibition was intriguing and enlightening (I'd never quite realised the depth of Blake's connection to religion), the general experience was pretty rubbish. It was absolutely packed which meant it was difficult to get close enough to pictures to actually see and I was a bit disappointment by the manners of people in the rooms. I shouldn't be surprised because it always seems to be the same in high profile exhibitions, but people were pushing and shoving and leaning right over and on the display cases, completely barring them from view. Aside from those frustrations it was thoroughly enjoyable - I definitely bought a postcard!
After the museum we stopped in a tiny cafe on Ship Street before heading off for a wander around the university buildings and the sights of Oxford. It really is a beautiful city and definitely one to be explored without the help of a map - provided you are happy to get lost.
I haven't bought myself any books this year (except War and Peace), so I decided that there could be no better place for book buying than Oxford. We googled bookshops in the city and made our way to a select few including the enormous Blackwells (also known as heaven on earth), the Oxfam Bookshop, Waterstones and The Last Bookshop (where everything was £3!). It's safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time perusing the shelves and I came away with a good number of gems.
Oxford marked the fourth new city/town I have visited in the UK for my 25 before 25 list and, although it doesn't have a lighthouse or the sea, it has been my favourite so far. As it's only an hour on the train I can see myself heading down again in the summer to explore again in less rainy conditions.
Have you ever been to Oxford?