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!

Bourton-on-the-Water

Having been to Bibury, we decided to continue our tour of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by going to the village of Bourton-on-the-Water. I was intrigued by the capitalisation of the letter W in Water. As far as I can tell, the Water here refers to the River Windrush, but I still can’t quite explain why the village isn’t called Bourton-on-the-Windrush then.

Anyway, that’s the sort of thing I tend to wonder about when I visit places!

The village itself was full of people when we got there, perhaps encouraged by the beautiful weather that day. We took the opportunity to dip our feet in the River Windrush; contrary to appearances, the water was ice-cold. I read on Wikipedia that in summer, a game of medieval football is played here with goalposts set up in the River Windrush itself. Sure sounds like a whole load of fun.

What is difficult to capture in both my posts on the Cotswolds AONB is the simple pleasure of driving around in the region. I have this dream of cruising in an Aston Martin in summer, visiting charming little villages built with that yellow limestone so characteristic of the Cotswolds region. Too bad I don’t have an Aston Martin, but who knows, one day…

Bibury

The village of Bibury in the Cotswolds region dates back to 1086 based on a record in the Domesday Book. These days it is famous for the line of 17th-century cottages called Arlington Row that once housed weavers working to supply cloth to nearby Arlington Mill.

I brought my family along to visit the village, arriving there in the late evening just before sunset. Despite the absence of international tourists, there was still a small crowd wandering around its picturesque lanes. We saw trout swimming in the River Coln that flows through the village. Temporary fencing prevented overzealous tourists from disturbing a swan nest on the river bank next to the local hotel (aptly named The Swan).

Some guy once described Bibury as “the most beautiful village in England” and I can definitely see why. I hope the National Trust continues its excellent work of preserving places like these.

If you’re ever in the Cotswolds region—you know, once the pandemic is over and all—then Bibury is definitely on my list of places worth visiting.

Blend 49

Trying out the beautifully-packaged Harrods Heritage Blend 49 coffee.

In celebration of our 150th anniversary, the Heritage Blend 49 Coffee has been specially blended by experts, using only the finest quality Arabica beans. As purveyors of fine coffee since our beginnings in 1849, this omni-grand fresh roasted coffee uses medium roasted beans from Brazil, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Colombia for a rich and aromatic finish. Perfectly complemented with an elegant green and gold tin featuring our Terracotta palace, the Blend 49 will make an ideal gift or souvenir for any coffee enthusiast.

My verdict? It tastes just like any other brand of coffee.

Oh well, at least I can re-use the nice tin!