A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Sunday, 25 August 2013
A Trip to Oxford
We had tickets for an event at Oxford Playhouse on Wednesday evening so we decided to journey down to Oxford at lunchtime and spend the afternoon looking around.
Unfortunately the Museum of Natural History is closed this year for urgent repairs to the glass panelled roof. We did visit the museum many years ago when David and Emily were little and it is excellent. David was a Member of Rockwatch (a society for children interested in geology and fossils) and they used to hold a yearly event here. At the meeting we attended Jack Horner (the palaentologist whose exploits were the inspiration for Alan Grant in Jurassic Park) gave a talk and there were various activities for Rockwatch members behind the scenes of the Museum. Chris Packham was also there.
Anyway, I digress!! We decided to have a look round the adjoining Pitt Rivers Museum
The Oxford Swift Research Project takes place at the museum. Swift colonies which nest inside ventilator shafts of the Museum have been researched since 1948. It is one of the longest continuous studies of a single bird species anywhere in the world. David Lack, Head of the Edward Grey Institute, began the project and studies have contributed a great deal to our knowledge of swifts.
Along the corridors leading to the Pitt Rivers Museum there were a lot of exhibits which had been moved from the natural history section. Lots of great information of evolution, natural selection, Charles Darwin and the History of Life.
And to my delight there were lots of fossils on display including one of my favourites - Sea Lilies (Crinoids). Crinoids are marine animals belonging to the Phylum Echinodermata and first evolved in the seas of the Middle Cambrian about 525 millions years ago. They did particularly well in the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic Eras and some species survive to the present day.
Even better my favourite creature of all time - the Trilobite - was much in evidence.
This is Walliserops trifurcates. The "trident" could have had several uses, for example, frightening off predators or disturbing a muddy seafloor as the animal searched for food. This fossil is from the Devonian Period (420 to 360 million years ago)
Trilobites were marine arthropods that evolved suddenly in the early Cambrian (545 million years ago). They dominated the Cambrian and early Ordovician seas before declining and finally becoming extinct in the Permian Period around 250 million years ago.
The Selenopeltis Slab
And finally onto the Pitt Rivers Museum which was just stuffed with artefacts. It contains collections of man-made objects from every continent and throughout human history. Its on 3 different levels. Just a few photos - the flash on my camera really is quite poor so most of the photos were too dark.
As you leave the museum you walk around the edge of the Natural History Museum and can see some of the exhibits being protected during the roof work
We had time for a walk into Oxford
This is the Sheldonian Theatre built from 1664 to 1668 and designed by Christopher Wren. It is the Official Ceremonial Hall for the University of Oxford.
We had a quick look round Balliol College - the Porter kindly let us in at half price for £1 as the Chapel and Dining Hall were closed!!!!
Must admit it was rather a whistle stop tour as we were running out of time!
I hope I am right in saying this is a sundial to commemorate 30 years of women at Balliol (they were first admitted in 1979).
The stone feature in the garden is not Princess Dervorguilla's Tomb as people sometime say but a collection of fragments from the Old Broad Street Buildings and Lodge
Nineteenth century Balliol poets include Gerard Manley Hopkins, Matthew Arnold, Algernon Swinburne and Robert Browning and 20th century novelists include Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene and Neville Shute.
Oxford is definitely a city of cyclists - there were bikes everywhere.
We had pizza and chips at the White Rabbit
and then onto Oxford Playhouse for an evening's Conversation between Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman followed by a question and answer session and book signing. It reminded me a bit of taking David to see Philip Pullman in Waterstones, Birmingham, when he was a lot younger and a big fan of the Dark Materials Trilogy. Its an event that's always stuck in my mind as Emily had a horse riding session which didn't finish till five o'clock and we had an hour to drive from depths of Warwickshire countryside to Birmingham City Centre in the rush hour, park and walk to the event. I still don't know how we did it in time - although I do remember the children saying they had never seen me drive so fast!!!
It was a very late night but an enjoyable day out!
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.