Oxford, One of the World’s Oldest Universities

Having lived in St Andrews for many years, I looked forward to exploring another university town. Yes, similar to St. Andrews, most buildings in Oxford are connected with the university.

Considered as the oldest university in the English speaking world, the exact foundation date is unknown, but teaching is known to have existed from 1097, with rapid expansion over the next hundred years. University ratings are highly subjective and many raters vary widely with their results, however, The Higher Education World University Rankings rate Oxford, as the world’s number 1 university for 2016-17.

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City of Bath, UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1987, UNESCO accorded World Heritage status to the entire city of Bath. While hundreds of cities throughout the world have designated world heritage sites, I believe Bath and Venice are the only 2 cities where the entire city, is so designated.

Venice is an easy one to understand, as we probably all know about the canals, and many may have actually visited the city, but Bath? Unless you are from UK, or have studied UK history, you may not be aware of this beautiful city.

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An Entire Village Circled By Neolithic Stones – Avebury

Departing Widbrook Barns B&B in Bradford-on-Avon, our next destination is Oxford, a mere 65 miles distant. Preferring to avoid motorways and major roads, our route today takes us to Avebury, followed by a scenic drive through North Wessex Downs AONB, then onto the oldest bridge over the River Thames at Radcot, before finally heading towards Oxford.

We have probably all heard of Stonehenge, but as I alluded to in my last post, this area of UK has numerous lesser know, but equally impressive attractions from about 5,000 years ago. Continue reading

Widbrook Barns Bed & Breakfast

Many years ago, when the kids were still young, we spent a couple of days around the SW, with friends Mark & Andrea. We spent a day visiting Bristol, Bath and the local canals. Being a whirlwind tour, in Bath, we only visited the Roman Baths, so this time we wanted to see other parts of the city, which is UK’s only city with a UNESCO World Heritage designation.

We planned a 2 night stay, with our preference again for a more rural location. I looked for small towns within a 10 mile radius of Bath, with easy train or bus links to downtown. Bradford-on-Avon met all the criteria. Searching for B&B’s, I found Widbrook Barns, which again ticked all the boxes and had great reviews.

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Neolithic Era Attractions Around Stonehenge

After our final breakfast at 15 Bed & Breakfast, in Fareham, we said our goodbyes to hosts Lorraine and Dave, setting off for Widbrook Barns B&B in Bradford-on-Avon. It’s only about 70 miles, so we opted for a circuitous route, taking in Stonehenge and a number of other lesser known Neolithic attractions.

The previous post covered Stonehenge, so this one will focus on the route we took from Stonehenge to Bradford-on-Avon. Continue reading

Stonehenge – The Iconic Pre-Historic Stone Circle

Two years ago, while on the World Cruise, we called at Southampton and contemplated taking the ship’s tour to Stonehenge. However, friends from Dorset and Isle of Wight came to Southampton, joining us for lunch. This turned out to be rather fortunate, as the ship’s tour only visited Stonehenge, completely missing the other local pre-historic attractions in the area.

This post will focus entirely on Stonehenge, with the next post covering other local sites – West Kennett, Avebury, to name just a couple of them.

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Salisbury, Cathedral and Magna Carta

Driving through Salisbury, while heading to our first stop of the day at Boscombe Down, we noted the Petersfinger Park & Ride, right off the A36.

After a couple of hours at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, we returned to Salisbury, arriving at the Petersfinger Park & Ride about 13:00. Parking is free and the return fare is UKP 4.00, for groups of up to 4 persons. Buses depart about every 15 minutes, with the last bus from town about 18:40, so that gave us about 5 hours to explore.

The bus dropped us off on Milford Street, which is right downtown and a short 5 to 10 minute walk from the cathedral. This post will cover our walk to the Cathedral, tour of the Cathedral and finally the Magna Carta, of which Salisbury has one of the four remaining original copies.

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Boscombe Down Aviation Collection

While staying at 15 Bed & Breakfast in Fareham, we drove up to Wiltshire for the day, visiting Boscombe Down and Salisbury. The Boscombe Down Aircraft Collection is truly amazing, and when visiting UK back in 1995, I can only wish the collection was already open. At that time, our son was about 10 years old and loved planes, so we visited the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force Museums, which were both big hits, seeing all the aircraft. However, I can just imagine his delight had he been able to climb into the cockpits at Boscombe Down.

Yes, this is no stuffy museum with, “Please do not touch” signs everywhere, in fact, it is totally the opposite, they encourage you to touch and experience the exhibits. For me it was somewhat of a trip down memory lane, as I seriously contemplated RAF pilot training rather than the marine industry. Continue reading

HMS Victory – Portsmouth Historic Naval Dockyard

Visiting and being able to walk through HMS Victory was definitely the highlight, of our visit to the Portsmouth Historic Naval Dockyard. For me, it was the culmination of a couple of previous visits on our current tour – the Battle of Trafalgar Exhibit at the National Maritime Museum and visiting Chatham Historic Dockyard, where the ship was built and refitted.

At over 250 years old, it is well maintained and in remarkably good condition, actually it is in better condition than many of the ships I sailed aboard. Continue reading

Portsmouth Historic Naval Dockyard

While enjoying our breakfast at 15 Bed & Breakfast and chatting with hostess Lorraine, she asked about our plans for the day. Since it was a rather dull and overcast day, with heavy rain forecast late afternoon, we planned to visit the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. Rather than driving around to Portsmouth, Lorraine suggested following the Solent around to Gosport, parking in the long stay lot and taking the ferry across to Portsmouth. Sure beats the congestion around Fareham.

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