Where does time go? Just the other day I was getting ready for Christmas, and now it’s February. Eeek! Needless to say, I’m running behind. I have a backlog of blogs to write and share with you, so I had best find my muse and get cracking. Usually I start the year evaluating last year’s progress, but I’m not going to hold myself accountable anymore. I haven’t even made any resolutions for this year, because I never stick to them. I have decided however, to just go with the flow and take away the pressures I place on myself.
So, my festive season was guilt free. I spent quality time with family and friends, went to the beach, read some books from my never ending to-be-read list, bought a few art books and supplies (something I’ve always wanted to try my hand at) pottered around my veggie garden, and I’ve had the best fun raising my new chickens – I have to say, there’s something wonderful about watching things grow. It makes my heart happy. I’ll leave these topics for a future blog post.
While I haven’t done a whole lot of writing, I’ve spent time thinking, planning and researching my new outback romance, ‘The Golden Mile’. But before I start penning, I must write parts two to four of my History, Mystery and Magic writing retreat. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy reading part one.
THE LITERARY TOUR
After having spent the mornings with Kate Forsyth and the group, discovering the art and craft of writing novels that draw upon all the magic and mystery of the past, our afternoons were at leisure to relax, eat, drink, write or read . . . or on alternative afternoons, there were four optional literary tours with a duration of approximately four hours each, where we had our own personal tour guide to explore some of Britain’s beautiful and literary landscapes.
OXFORD – Our first tour began in Southern England, in the county town of Oxfordshire. It’s the 52nd largest city in the UK. Here in the famous ‘city of dreaming spires’ we followed the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, and Lewis Carroll; with links to The Golden Compass, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia.
CHRIST CHURCH was our first stop. This amazing landmark is one of the largest, and the most famous colleges in the University of Oxford. It is also the only church in the world to be both a cathedral and a college chapel, and it maintains a long association with children’s literature.
We walked through the Memorial Garden Gate and along the Broad Walk to the Meadow Gate main entrance; then into the Venetian style, Meadow Building, and the Cloisters, before reaching the famous Staircase.
The 16th century staircase which led up to the Great Hall was inspiration for the moving staircase in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was also where Professor McGonagall welcomed Harry and his classmates to Hogwarts for the first time (Yes, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan)
The Great Hall was magnificent, and very crowded with tourists on the day. This is the centre of college life; the academic community dines here each day, and on special occasions banquets and tea parties are held here. Its ‘hammerbeam’ ceiling inspired the appearance of Hogwart’s Hall and was recreated in a studio for filming.
One of many vibrant ‘Stained Glass’ windows
Here we are looking through the Cathedral Garden door that leads to the Dean’s Garden. Did you see the *white rabbit* disappear through that little door? (that’s the ‘rabbit hole’ portal to Wonderland) Oh, what inspiration for Lewis Carroll.
Inside Christ Church Cathedral
The Chancel Vault – Christ Church Cathedral
. . . And then we walked around Oxford and viewed some amazing landmarks.
Looking back at Christ Church Cathedral
What is Oxford time?
The Lamp Post was inspiration for Narnia
Radcliffe Camera – The Bodleian Library was used for The Golden Compass and three of the Harry Potter films.
New Oxford Lane
Bridge of Sighs
The Divinity School was used for Hogwart’s Infirmary
Museum of the History of Science
Alice’s Shop which appears in Alice through the Looking Glass
Oxford is indeed a treasure trove of literary excitement. It is rich in history, and is architecturally stunning. If you plan to visit, do allow yourself as much time as you possibly can to absorb this truly fascinating place.
Do stay tuned for Part 2: The Literary Tour – Stratford upon Avon.