A trip to Oxford and the singing dog

Following our visit to Cambridge as I have blogged here, Kevin my good mate from office and I planned to make a visit to Oxford. What was initially conceived as a 2-3 member trip eventually ended up being a very enjoyable trip last Sunday with about eleven from office in attendance.

We took the 9.35 train to Oxford from Paddington and reached Oxford in about an hour. We started walking around, the city centre in the gorgeous Oxford sunshine, most of the Oxford Colleges were closed so we walked leisurely in the streets until we came to a park (which belonged to one of the colleges), there was a stream going through the park and most interestingly there was a little fenced area where bees were kept.

The hives where the Bees are kept.

These hives were custom made and concealed in such a way that the bees could cause no harm to the observers who could appreciate the operations that took place inside the hive. Stethoscopes were set to these, so the humming of the bees inside the hives which reflected a lot of activity could also be heard, to be honest listening to nothing but the intense activity of the bees and visually scrutinizing the happenings inside the hive does take one to a total different level of senses where absorption of the rest of the world comes to a temporary virtual standstill.

Further periods of walking ensued, and after getting lost inside sweet shops  we came to Carfax tower which is supposedly the tallest tower in Oxford city. There are building regulations stipulating that no building in Oxford city can exceed the height of Carfax tower, possibly to retain the prestige of Carfax tower being the tallest building in Oxford. Of course one evident drawback of this building regulation is that when one peruses the horizon from the top of the tower there are a few buildings which are of the same height as Carfax tower and offer a rather distasteful disruption of the otherwise beautifully monotonous horizon. We climbed the ninety nine steps of Carfax tower for a ticket price of £2.20 and spent some time at the top of the tower taking photographs and just looking around.

Something else rather interesting was happening just outside the base of carfax towe, yes! you guessed it right! there was a man playing the pipes and besides him was a singing dog! quite the spectacle the duo were, I have to say.

Climbing the steps of Carfax tower

View from the top of Carfax tower

We then walked through the university passing a few more colleges and other buildings including the Radcliffe Camera, designed by James Gibbs in the English Palladian style and built in 1737–1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library.

Radcliffe Camera

Having done a fair share of walking we walked to a pub called the Eagle and Child, where I had a really filling portion of Scampi and chips whilst the others had different choices of their taste. Interestingly, J.R.R Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame used to hang out in this pub and it is said that the idea for Lord of the Rings was conceived here. Even more interestingly, Tolkien is said to have remarked that the Radcliffe Camera resembled Sauron’s temple to Morgoth on Númenor.

Images of Tolkien and the exterior of the pub

After lunch we walked back towards the university after a brief stop at St. John’s College, more about that with a panoramic image in a different post.

From the beginning of the trip the buzz word was punting, and punting we went. Kevin, Paul, another mate of ours and I decided to punt and the others well girls really blissfully sat down while we the boys navigated the boats down the stream. It was rather difficult at first with all three of us being first time punters, when Kevin and I punted in Cambridge we had a chauffeur who took us in a boat. We did have trouble manoeuvring it the first time, but we soon almost never got the hang of it, but still one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had in the past few years with a lot of laughs shared between the three boats.

Punting, yes that’s me in the foreground punting my boat.

To be continued with more images and a video of the singing dog…


Filed under architecture, england

6 responses to “A trip to Oxford and the singing dog

  1. Jack Point

    “There are building regulations stipulating that no building in Oxford city can exceed the height of Carfax tower, possibly to retain the prestige of Carfax tower being the tallest building in Oxford.”

    It is not the prestige, that is behind these regulations but the overall view of the townscape.

    There is no fun in looking at row after row of skyscrapers which is what one sees in HK or Singapore. In London, the rule is that no building may be taller than the dome of St Paul’s.

    See also


  2. I had so much fun reading this – made me wish I was there! thanks for the post!

  3. aufidius

    Cheers Jack point.

    I meant that in the context of Carfax tower being situated in a highly conserved building zone. The question of height arises only when someone is able to tackle all other stipulations anyway, there are so many issues that need to be addressed if a private (even state) client can even contemplate building in that vicinity.

    Why I used prestige was because Carfax tower may have once been the tallest structure, and when it was built it may have been a great achievement then, not allowing buildings to exceed that height may be in respect of that prestige, Oxford has so much of traditions.

    I consulted the senior conservation architect in office with regards St.Pauls, there is no such thing. There are hundreds of skyscrapers in London which are much higher than St.Pauls, and St.Pauls isn’t a particularly tall structure. But what is disallowed is to build in certain parts in the vicinity of St.Pauls that can be seen from the top of it, i.e done with the intention of conserving the view from that height. Hope that makes sense, it’s hard to explain without a sketch.

    Dee – Thank you.

    Angel – Glad you liked it!

  4. Jack Point

    Hey magerata,

    thanks for the clarification, I think I know what you mean. I think teh area around ST Paul’s is clear of skyscrapers so the view is not obscured.

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