We had a relaxing morning with our friend Phil, before hopping on the train from Banbury into Oxford to arrive just before midday and meet up with Dave and Antonia. I'd forgotten just how busy Oxford train station was but I couldn't miss Dave in his bright red Lions shirt. Given the time, lunch was high on the agenda but not before a walk back to Wadham. We were lucky to be going back in a heatwave, reminding us of summers as a student but without tutorials and exams getting in the way. The chapel, gardens and buildings looked amazing and after so long away from the city we could appreciate them in a new light.
After Wadham we went in search of food, initially trying to find an empty table in a beer garden but swiftly gave that up as Oxford was heaving on a sunny Saturday, so settled on salad and sandwiches which we wandered down to Christchurch meadow to eat in the shade of some trees along with lots of other people having the same idea. It was a real festival feeling with everyone in summer clothes and even a mad hatters tea party going on nearby.
Following lunch it was down to the boathouse where we had rowed (and Dave had watched, due to the unsociable hours rowing training tends to involve, i.e. before lunch) before a loop round the meadow and back into town in search of a drink. We were in no rush and took a scenic route past memorable landmarks we'd been familiar with such as Exam Schools, the RadCam, Bodlean Library, Sheldonian Theatre and the Students Union before settling down at Oxford Castle for a drink. The hotel we got our drinks from used to Oxford prison so it was quite odd sitting in the former exercise yard looking up at barred windows whilst enjoying a pot of tea in the sunshine.
Too soon it was time for Dave and Antonia to catch a return train and we had to say our goodbyes. It had been a great day with good friends in a place that was special to all four of us. We had a return ticket too but wanted to spend more time in the city so walked back through town to meet up with Phil again who had come into Oxford after his afternoon conducting a brass band. As the evening drew in we wandered back around town enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and even visited Phil's lab for a brew including a trip to the teaching labs we'd spent time in more than 10 years ago.
From Phil's research lab, we took a walk through the University Parks, where we'd spent a lot of time together, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the surroundings. It was a really beautiful evening and reminded us how easy it was to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city here. It was especially nice to walk by the river and round the little pond where we used to go to feed the ducks. There weren't many ducks this evening but we did see a couple of squirrels.
Finally at around 9pm it was time to call it a day so Phil drove us out of Oxford and back to Banbury, via a Harvester in Kiddlington for dinner. We got back to Phil's flat with aching feet from all the wandering about but also feeling really contented after making some new memories whilst remembering some old ones as well.