The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Dreaming Spires and Ancient Jewels
What would be the perfect February weekend? Possibly crisp, sunny weather, or amazing architecture? Perhaps a cosy, warm hostel that sells nice beer? With a pub just round the corner, which serves good food. Add to the mix an array of fantastic museums and some gorgeous countryside and I’m pretty sure you have a winner.
Our Oxford weekend started with a morning at the Ashmolean Museum doing an introductory tour. The place is so vast you can’t possibly see everything, so we followed a very nice lady guide from room-to-room bagging a few highlights. There was a cloak belonging to Pocahontas’ Dad, Lawrence of Arabia’s robes and the unique Alfred jewel. For some reason she missed out the penis-head bowl, but you can’t cover everything.
In the afternoon we split, with some bagging the Bodleian and others heading for the Natural History Museum, or just enjoying the ambience of the honey-stoned streets. Despite most of our party having some cake-based refreshment at some point in the afternoon, we all seemed to have excellent appetites when it came to our pub meal in the evening. I’m not sure the pub was set up for family dining, as we seemed to have been sat in the booby corner, which was nothing compared the x-rated décor in the gents (I’m told). Luckily the food was easily good enough for you to forget about the lack of taste in the décor.
After a good night’s sleep we enjoyed a light breakfast (well, except for Dave & Jim) most of us set out on a riverside walk to see the more rural side of the city. Anxious not to accidentally do any of the Thames path out of order, we focussed our attention on the River Cherwell. The route out from the city took in Christ Church Meadows and the beautiful tree-lined path alongside the river. It was pretty chilly, but there were spring flowers out and a very welcome pub half way round. We risked looking slightly desperate as we had to wait a couple of minutes for the landlord to come and unlock the front door. The route back to town was equally lovely, marred by a couple of rather challenging muddy patches, but with the lure of tea and cakes back in civilisation it was easy to press on. So we finished our trip much as we began, bagging a bit more Oxford: museums, cakes, walks & streets. I’m looking forward to the return visit for the Thames path.
Thanks go to Clive for organising a fascinating day out in “Hidden London”. A group of us took a guided tour of disused Aldwych tube station, down 160 steps to the platforms, a depth of 92feet and 6 inches below the street.
Aldwych station has always been something of a curiosity – a little-used branch of the Piccadilly line – it opened in 1907, one platform hasn’t been used since 1914, and the other closed in 1994. But it’s still used for training, and as a location for film and TV.
It was used as an air raid shelter in both world wars, and also as safe storage for the British Museum (you can still see the anchor points for the hoist used to lower the Elgin Marbles down the stairs!).
With an afternoon at the London Transport Museum and a drink in the Temple Bar, all made a good day out. Dave
Great Oak, Great Time
It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies when five of us met up in Castle Hedingham. We took a few minutes to stroll round this gorgeous village, with a brief pilgrimage to the ex-youth hostel, then headed out through Sible Hedingham. The route took in some wide field boundaries and banks filled with wild primroses. There were also bridleways in pleasant sunken lanes and, of course, the legendary Great Oak of Great Yeldham. Admittedly it’s no longer in its prime, but still rather impressive for something that gets a mention in Domesday. I’d like to say that the route back was uneventful, but I managed to slip over in a particularly slick patch of mud. Dave was very sympathetic, saying: “You do realise you’re not getting in the car like that”. Luckily I had my waterproof trousers with me or I’d have had to visit the pub in my pants.
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