Last week we were Zorro-less as our first guide dog pup had to be boarded with another family as part of his socialisation training. Each pup has to be boarded out for two separate weeks during his year with the puppy walker, and this was the first time we had been separated from our lad. Since the house felt insanely quiet without our boisterous boy filling the space, we decided to get in the car and take off to explore some places we hadn’t visited in a while.
First stop was the university city of Oxford. I love the place. It buzzes with atmosphere, probably because it’s filled with bright young things setting out in life with all their dreams and plans to change the world. Oh, how I loved those wonderful student days. Sigh. We did some shopping, spent time in the wonderful and often quirky university book stores, had lunch in a trendy café, afternoon tea in Ye Olde English Tea Shop, and generally soaked up the atmosphere. Keble College is one of the largest constituent colleges of Oxford University, and its chapel houses one of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite works, The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt. The Pre Raphaelites have been a firm favourite of mine since I discovered them while studying for a degree in Art History. While I love the paintings by bad boy Dante Gabriel Rossetti, I always seem drawn to the poignancy of Holman Hunt’s work. Divinely beautiful.
We also went south to the pretty little town of Lyme Regis, a historic fishing port and gateway to the Jurassic Coast. This whole area is designated An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where the West Dorset and East Devon coastlines meet. It is said that the rocks record 185 million years of the Earth’s history. The area is said to have inspired writers Jane Austen and John Fowles (the French Lieutenant’s Woman was filmed in Lyme Regis). The town dates back to the 8th century and the famous 13th century Cobb wall, from where this photo was taken, acted as protection for the harbour and provides a dramatic and fascinating walk. During our walk back through the quaint cobbled streets, we were delighted to come upon a group of Morris dancers. Sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells are used in this traditional English folk dance. Originally, it was only men who danced but now women have claimed their place amid a certain amount of controversy. Viva la women!