We were thrown into mêlée of university life when, before we even reached our starting point, the University Museum, we chanced upon a former Marlston pupil - none other than Mr Fleming's daughter! Victoria is reading chemistry and was able to describe to her admiring audience the life of a science student: Tuesday was a lab day and she would be doing lab work until about 4 p.m. She was quizzed about her clothing (no uniform), where she was going to, what experiments she was doing and much more.
Then into the University Museum to seek out Mary Anning ('She sells seashells on the seashore' was made up in her honour as she sought to make a living by selling her exotic fossils from the Lower Lias at Lyme Regis.)
With ears ringing to the name of Dodo-Dodgson, the stammering maths professor and author of Alice in Wonderland, we left to seek the watering hole of the Inklings in the Lamb and Flag. Here Dodgson, CS Lewis (the Narnia books) and JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) would meet weekly to try out their latest chapters on each other.
By coincidence the trip was on May 1st - a day of revelry in Oxford. In the Broad we watched and were then encouraged to join the Morris Men in their partly traditional dancing (I have never seen Morris Dancers with face paint before!)
Onward to Oriel College, the temporary home of King Charles and his court during the Civil War and, more recently, Mr Park's college. Stories of rowing, climbing in after the gates were locked, the sconce cup*, women barred from chapel but allowed to watch the service from behind a curtain, before sampling the extravagant size of Christ Church College where everything is on a far grander scale. Archie described some of the exploits of his great grandfather, who was up at Oriel in the late 1920s.
Thanks to Mr Templeman, Mrs Park and especially to Adrian who drove us patiently past the accident on the A34 which delayed our return and carried bags, took some of the photos and was ceaselessly supportive.
*Sconcing is a tradition at Oxford University of demanding that a person drink a large tankard of ale as a penalty for some breach of etiquette. For example, the sin of talking about the pictures on the walls of Hall or speaking of your academic studies.