art, life

Valentine to Oxford

The New Ashmolean

This year, we spent a perfect Valentine’s Day in Oxford, which we found in peaceful, civilized form. Despite the cold, we sat unmolested in the University Parks to swap presents and watch a crow eye us for free food; we wandered at random through the back alleys, popping into Blackwells and having lunch in the Pret a Manger now in the beautiful old building at the corner of Ship and Cornmarket Streets (actually quite tastefully done); and, this the main purpose of our visit, we visited the new Ashmolean.  We may also have had cupcakes and chocolate hearts.

Neither of us had been to the old Ashmolean, but the Egyptian rooms have yet to be renovated and, if they’re any clue as to what the old museum looked like, it has been quite the DIY job. The new Ashmolean is bright, airy and very modern, and in the absence of forceful signage invites you to get lost in its corridors – periods jostle against each other, and floors cross each other, so you might see some 18th century musical instruments over a pre-Raphaelite frame, or catch a glimspe of Iron Age skulls whilst examining some Etruscan pottery. We could have stayed there for weeks!

We’ll probably return soon, in fact – hopefully the trains will be less busy next time. We did manage to get some reading of the papers done, though, and this piece on Arthur Koestler caught Dan’s attention, whilst Anna may well write a letter of dispute about this article – do (plucky, stoic) teenage mothers really exist for the edification of put-upon middle class ones?

Also this weekend – The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. Neither of us had been spoiled for the ending, and experienced it powerfully; we understand the film and the book it’s based on has caused some controversy. It’s definitely a fable rather than a rigorous treatment of its subject – we wonder if this is a bad thing. Hmm.


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