All Souls College

The most exclusive of Oxford colleges, All Souls College is unique by virtue of having no undergraduates. Instead, entry is only granted to past winners of the Triwizard Tournament the select few people known as Examination Fellows (or Prize Fellows).

In order to become an Examination Fellow, one has to sit for a written examination, consisting of four papers lasting three hours each. Unfortunately for clinician-scientists like me, these papers normally cover specialist subjects like Classical Studies, Law, History, English Literature, Economics, Politics, or Philosophy i.e. subjects which I now very little about!

In the past, there also used to be a fifth paper consisting of only a single word. Candidates then had to write an essay in response to the chosen word. Crazy, huh?

Dandelion Seed Head

I am in the process of writing a post on Blenheim Palace but it is not quite ready yet, so in the meantime, enjoy this picture of a dandelion seed head I took while jogging in Cutteslowe Park yesterday.

Socially-Distanced Spider Webs

I took these pictures in early June as I was cycling to the hospital. Along the cycle path I noticed a series of dense spider webs but what struck me was how neatly spaced-out they were (see second picture). I’d love to know why, and more importantly, how they can estimate the distance between neighbouring webs.

Any araneologist lurking around in here might care to explain perhaps?

Museum of Natural History & Pitt Rivers Museum

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History, not to be confused with the Natural History Museum in London, first opened its doors in 1860 and has delighted nerds (like me) ever since. Even before it was opened, it had hosted what subsequently became known as the Great Debate, in which Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, matched wits with Thomas Huxley on the topic of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

These days, the approach from the lawn is marred somewhat by barriers erected due to ongoing construction work at the site of Reuben College, the latest addition to this collegiate university. However, one can still see some Megalosaurus footprints on the front lawn, made from casts of fossilised prints discovered at Ardley Quarry, Oxfordshire in 1997.

This museum is probably my second favourite place in the city (after Blackwell’s). Pre-pandemic, I’d sometimes drop by for a short while to take a look at the dinosaurs, have a light lunch, and read at the cafe upstairs.

Like I said, I’m a nerd.

These photos were taken recently when I brought my family along for a visit. We also made our way into the adjacent Pitt Rivers Museum, although the kids were understandably less excited about all the stuff there compared to the dinosaurs skeletons found next door.

A bit about the photos themselves…

After importing them into the Photos app on my MacBook Pro, I decided to be lazy and simply applied the ‘Vivid Warm’ filter instead of making individual edits. I’m still getting used to this new workflow, having used Adobe Lightroom for quite a while, but so far so good.

Enjoy the pictures!

Divinity School

From Wikipedia:

The Divinity School is a medieval building and room in the Perpendicular style in Oxford, England, part of the University of Oxford. Built between 1427 and 1483, it is the oldest surviving purpose-built building for university use, specifically for lectures, oral exams and discussions on theology.

Nowadays, it is arguably more famous for being the set of Hogwarts Infirmary.

I was especially attracted to the ceiling with its 455 crests representing the various families and institutions who donated money used to build the Divinity School. Looking through the tall windows from the inside, it is possible to see a Christopher Wren building, the Sheldonian Theatre on one side, and Radcliffe Camera on the other.

Unfortunately, tickets for the 90-minute tour of the Bodleian Library were sold out, but I’m still hopeful I’ll be able to get a spot one of these days. Accio ticket!