Oxford is, and will always be, an enviable combination of beauty and Intellect. And, a place you will always be sure to find a good bowl of soup!
Wandering around all those towers and spires is hungry work, and at about mid-day, one simply must find sustenance. A bowl of Carrot Ginger soup is just the ticket, and I enjoyed one on this warm September afternoon.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is a very good spot for sustenance. Not to mention crowds of young people talking and eating as if there were no tomorrow. And why would people be eating at St Mary's church? you might ask. Well, they are eating there because St Mary's has a smashing cafe where they make their own bread and soup and salads and everything FROM SCRATCH. If you happen to stroll past the church around lunchtime you will encounter the most amazing aromas. And you will really not be able to resist.
The SconeLady finds sustenance
The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
The cafe at St Mary's is simply crammed with people. People in line, people requesting food, people pouring water into their glasses, people carrying their trays to minuscule tables to sit with strangers, and people (most notably) serving all of this humanity - with grace. St Mary's is a grace-full place.
Inside the church, if you look closely you will find the picture of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, one of the 'Oxford Martyrs'. I have written about Mr. Cranmer before in this space but I am too sleepy to find the post and ascertain whether I am now repeating my own self. But that doesn't really matter, because hearing of Cranmer, and Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley is always worth a bit of a repeat.
Unwilling to deny their faith, the three were indeed burned alive (horrid thought) on Broad Street, at the behest of Queen Mary (Cranmer was martyred 5 months after the others). Their trial had taken place inside St Mary's church, and you can see where part of a pillar was cut away in order to place the stage upon which they stood to answer their accusers. The church today, as you walk in, is quiet and humble, and even sacred in its attitude. Visitors are invited to enter, and if you are there to participate in a church service, you are verbally welcomed and made to feel so. This same sweetness sifts on over into the cafe, where the servers offer that same sort of kindness. I loved it.
And so, there I sat, outside of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, eating my bowl of Carrot and Ginger soup. I sat looking toward the Radcliffe Camera. It is spectacular when you are near it; even more so if you climb the high tower to the top of the church. There you will see it, and Brasenose College, All Soul's College, the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the Divinity School. To be in proximity to so many Treasures is to be incredibly blessed, and beyond. Just writing about it makes me have itchy feet, again! Oh dear.
Really, Readers - you must go.
See you along the way!
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/harshilshah/2435211026/">Harshil.Shah</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>