On English Ground

Oxford Travel Blog

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OBJ a border Morris side

We book into a caravan park by phone and when we get there the owners have the same concerns as the previous camp ground about camping in a vehicle that is not converted properly.  Andrew suddenly has a flash of brilliance and produces the NRMA camping card that cost us $25 for membership and we get a reduced rate and they let us in.  There is a huge camping shop nearby and now we are not sleeping on folded down seats, just the carpeted floor we buy a blow up air bed, a small air pump that runs from the cigarette lighter socket and a small two man tent to satisfy the camp sites.  Do not actually ever intend to get it out of it's bag let alone put it up and given the air temperature will only get naked in the amenities block when the heater is going.

Oxford is not for cars these days and there is a Park & Ride across the road which gets us a return trip for two pounds.

Morris Offspring in the Oxford Town Hall dancing the production 'On English Ground'
  Value, no stress.  We head to the town hall and collect our tickets for the weekend festival.  There is a night at the Port Mahon pub for the folk club and here we get an evenings entertainment which ranges from not so good to great.  The Merry Muse Folk club in Canberra does beat it hands down but we get different stuff and enjoy it for the one pound entrance and lucky door prize.

Saturday morning we are back in the city and head to the Castle where the Morris Dancing is to begin at 10 am.  It is freezing and although there are many morris people around they are slow to get organised.  Some dancing happens before they all get whisked away for the street parade.  I am anxious to be on time for the first of the concerts in the main hall where a group of young people are presenting a two hour show called 'On English Ground'.

The unicorn in 'On English Ground'
  It is stunning and I find it very emotional.  The group call themselves Morris Offspring.  Look for more about the show on the web www.MorrisOffspring.co.uk .

Back on the street we hunt down some cornish pasties and find Morris sides dancing.   A side called OBJ are dancing in the border style that Molonglo Mayhem Border Morris do in Canberra, the side I danced with.  One of the muso's clad in kit, a tin hat and flying boots spruiks for the next dance.  'This dance is usually performed  ... on the A25'.  Afterwards I find him and point out that in Australia, Much Wenlock is mostly performed around Canberra.  I give him a kangaroo pin to remember us by whenever they dance Much Wenlock though the tune we chose to dance it to is much nicer than theirs I feel!

The next day we get our fill of folk music with some more superb stuff.

The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford
  Black Umfolosi, Magpie Lane, Waterson/McCarthy have entertained us well over the weekend.  We have walked lots of streets and Universities around Oxford and on Monday do some serious site seeing visiting Magdelen College and grounds.  These places date back to 1450's and beyond if you take in to account there was a hospital operating there from the 1100's!  There are places that are more familiar to us as scenes from Harry Potter and then the Museums that my grandparents used to take us to when visiting in the school holidays.  I remember Angel Meadow then step out with confidence after a beaut suet Steak & Kidney pie with vegetables and mashed potatoes, to Morrell Ave and to the street where my maternal grandparents lived.  As a very young child I have a mental picture of their back room that was so dark and heavily curtained to keep the cold out.
The Museum of Natural Sciences in Oxford
  We had just returned from a two year posting in Singapore with my new baby sister and I was told that these strangers were my grandparents.

On Tuesday we valiantly try to cook some bacon and pork sausages for breakfast in a howling wind.  Should have bought the camp stove with the wind protector and not counted the pennies!  Pack up the van and head off to Blenheim Palace.  It is now raining and once we get into the grounds decide that it would be a shame to view it on such a dreadful day, so we head into Woodstock to a tea room that has timbers purloined from the Spanish Armada for door and window frames.

The dining hall in Magdelen College Oxford
  We have a real cream tea and listen to the accents at the surrounding tables.  Time to head back to London to do some serious clothes sorting.  We will be heading to Fareham, Hampshire for Easter and a 4 day folk festival.  From there we have tickets booked for a ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao, Spain on Tuesday night.  This trip will have us arrive on Thursday morning so we will have two nights in a cabin.  The blurb says it is like a mini cruise and we are so looking forwards to warmer weather.  Once on the continent there is a very loose plan to travel through Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece.  If we get to countries further north then it will be a bonus.  We have a return ticket booked from Calais to Dover in the first week of June with the wonderful offer to go to the Cotswolds and stay at my Aunt & Uncles house while they holiday.  We get to have a cat during that week and his name is Baldrick.

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OBJ a border Morris side
OBJ a border Morris side
Morris Offspring in the Oxford Tow…
Morris Offspring in the Oxford To…
The unicorn in On English Ground
The unicorn in 'On English Ground'
The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford
The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford
The Museum of Natural Sciences in …
The Museum of Natural Sciences in…
The dining hall in Magdelen Colleg…
The dining hall in Magdelen Colle…
photo by: petit_gooroo