The 50mm tour of Oxford

As a sort of personal challenge, I decided to take my trust old SMC Pentax 1:2 50mm for an airing. This is the lens that came originally with the Pentax K1000 camera, and is rather controversial among Pentaxians. It’s a tricky piece of glass to use – it’s manual focus, obviously, the focus ring is quite stiff, the pictures taken with it can be quite soft. At its best, it takes stunning pictures though.

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Oxford is town full of cemeteries – there is one at both ends of St Giles, at least one on High Street, several in the town centre, a rather large in Wolvercote. I go to the Holywell Cemetery (famous burial: Kenneth Grahame) in the autumn when medlar trees are full of fruit and the mulberry trees have turned yellow. St Sepulchre’s (famous burial: William Richard Morfill, 19th century Russian ethnographer) is my favourite place on earth when the bluebells and cow parsley are out and the afternoon sun filters through the red leaves of the giant beech trees. Others make pilgrimages to Wolvercote – J.R.R. Tolkien is buried there. This particular cemetery is by the church of St Giles, long abandoned. I can see it from my windows, and sometimes have lunch there.

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Today was particularly windy, so none of my flower photos are in focus.

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Some wonderful gardens are hidden around town – this one belongs to the Merton College.

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Ah, the bicycles. There is usually about three to every one “Don’t chain your bicycle to this fence” – sign, usually at least one directly underneath it. The most common crime is a bicycle theft.

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Not only do half the businesses in town centre use bikes as advertising stands, the city council even hangs them up, covered in LEDs, over the High Street during the Christmas season. I have seen a bunch of guide books with a cyclist on the cover, so we are quietly as famous for them as Amsterdam.

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Cornmarket Street has one nice building on it. It houses Pret a Manger.

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Some of the buskers are actually quite good.

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Someone finished their finals here. Cleaning up after the university exams is very expensive, and once the city council started sending the university an invoice every summer, the university authorities have done their best to stop the students from littering the town and causing people to break limbs (it has happened), but to some people the pull of confetti is still too much to resist. When I finished my finals few years ago, someone really rather helpfully emptied a whole bag of biodegradable confetti on my head and I still occasionally find little colourful pieces of tissue paper when I clean.

I have moved house twice.

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Oxford is full of fantastic(al) doors. One day I will make an all-doors, nothing-but-doors post.

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There is something a bit eerie about how beautiful Oxford is. Thanks to Morse and Lewis and that guy who wrote “The moving toyshop”, where you would dump a body is relevant, commonplace topic of conversation. My chosen location is Worcester College lake, or if I really wanted to go Gothic, the New College Lane.

 

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They mean it. Don’t do it. According to Oxford folklore, only senior Dons are allowed to walk across the lawn, and any students caught doing it will be fined 25 guineas. I don’t know if that is true, but everyone is peculiarly respectful of the grass – you hardly ever see those bald patches around the corners, where careless feet have cut few steps short, and most of the turf is blindingly green and shiny and perfect all year round.

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I really, really want to know what the Old Sheep Shop sold.

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This is Brewer Street, which is notable for three things: 1) my first ever Oxford classes (Biblical Greek) happened here; 2) they found a lost Michelangelo painting in Campion Hall couple years ago, and 3) Dorothy L. Sayers was born here.

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Another rather funky shop, Scriptum, on Turl Street. If you need an antique copy of Alice’s Adventures in the Wonderland or an astrolabe or a quill, this is your place.

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Two most famous buildings in Oxford, the Hereford College bridge, and the Radders. Radders is one of the things I intensely miss from my student days. It was always crowded and a bit noisy, but as far as buildings go, few are more spectacular. And their shelving system was art.

So, if you are passing by – try not to be hit by a cyclist, sit a garden and buy a postcard featuring any building located within hundred yards from Blackwell Bookshop, and you’re golden.

All photos were taken with Pentax K-30 camera, using a 50mm prime lens, the camera set on aperture priority mode.

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