Sunday 1st September
A good night’s sleep as the Sunday trains don’t start their engines at 5am! Dave cycled off for the paper and a few bits and pieces and found a barber that opens on a Sunday – so a bit later off he went again for a haircut and was very pleased with the result. But then we had to move, our 48 hours being nearly up, so we went down to East Street moorings where there was plenty of room.
Here is Chuffed entering Isis lock;
soon after we passed the remains of the old railway swing bridge and then bade farewell to the South Oxford canal.
We had an early lunch on the East Street moorings and then went off to the city for a cultural afternoon – well mostly, anyway. We wanted to visit the Christchurch College Art Gallery and then the Modern Art one. The Christchurch one was mostly extremely old religious paintings (early 15th century) and some later works, mostly Italian. They were hung on stone walls in the wonderfully cool old college. There were two guides; one looked fierce and seemed to be checking up on the few visitors with his gimlet eye but turned out to be friendly and enthusiastic – for example, could we spot the elephant in a picture of ancient Romans? (it turned out to be on a rug at the bottom of the picture). What could have been a dry-as-dust and short visit turned out to be fascinating. The most interesting picture was called ‘The Butcher’s Shop’ by Carracci (no we’ve not heard of him either) - the figures are thought to be all modelled on the artist’s own family and he himself is thought to be the butcher weighing the meat. On the table is an extra hand (pointed out by the lovely guide – there were hardly any visitors so he wasn’t busy) so you look around and see that there is a shadowy figure at the back trying to pinch it. http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/gallery/the-collection/paintings/carracci-butchers-shop.
After that we went to the Modern Art one – there were two ‘installations’ – one was odd frames like large mirrors covered with translucent plastic and a selection of speakers transmitting various voices – the other was a monologue over a random moving montage of images on a screen with a strange screeching noise in the background. They were supposed to mean something profound but – odd. We lasted 5 minutes then went off to the bar near Osney Bridge to watch the second half of the Arsenal v Spurs match (1-0, the more’s the pity).
In the evening we walked up to town again for a meal. We had wanted to eat at the Punter nearby but didn’t really fancy the menu. We went up via the station with its strange tower, rather different from the college architecture!
We ate at the Crown in Cornmarket, where Shakespeare is reputed to have stayed when it was a coaching inn. We enjoyed a pint of Brakspear’s bitter and an excellent meal.