Oxford Stories

Excerpt from “Oxford” by Tom Lovatt-Williams

I see the coloured lilacs flame
In many an ancient Oxford lane
And bright laburnum holds its bloom
Suspended golden in the noon,
The placid lawns I often tread
Are stained and carpeted with red…

These lines from Lovatt-Williams’ poem ‘Oxford’ capture perfectly the beauty of this city over the last few weeks.  Lockdown has definitely made me far more appreciative of the  way nature is changing around us here in Oxford as we take our ‘daily exercise’. Continue reading

Getting to Know Wild Flowers

Open Your Eyes!

To shop, and school, to work and play,
The busy people pass all day;
They hurry, hurry, to and fro,
And hardly notice as they go
The wayside flowers, known so well,
Whose names so few of them can tell.

They never think of fairy-folk
Who may be hiding for a joke!

O, if these people understood
What’s to be found by field and wood;
What fairy secrets are made plain
By any footpath, road, or lane—
They’d go with open eyes, and look,
(As you will, when you’ve read this book)
And then at least they’d learn to see
How pretty common things can be!

— Cicely Mary Barker

 

With hardly a shop or school to go to, one of the silver linings for us during lockdown has been time to walk or run most days.  Without the rush of normal life, we have had time to appreciate the wild flowers growing along nearby pavements, paths and in meadows and woodlands. Continue reading

Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605

Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed.  Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Continue reading

Visiting Rome

“Rome, the city of visible history.”

— George Elliot

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that we’ve just got back from an amazing few days in Rome. George Elliot is spot on. Rome certainly is “the city of visible history”. Wherever  we looked – whether up at the domes, down the cobbled alleyways or strolling around the Colosseum – history was there.

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Artist of the Term: J.M.W.Turner

Turner has some golden visions, glorious and beautiful. They are only visions, but still, they are art, and one could live and die with such pictures.

John Constable on the 1828 Royal Academy Exhibition.

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Artist of the Term: Michelangelo

Every child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination . . . 

— Charlotte Mason

Last term our ‘artist of the term’ was the magnificent Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564).  This was a treat, if a little brief for such an artistic giant – sculptor, painter, architect and poet.

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Getting Ready for the Ballet

The fine arts find their origin in God, the Creator of language, color and music. Fine arts reveal within us an intrinsic need for beauty that is a part of God’s image stamped on our being.

— Clay and Sally Clarkson, Educating the Wholehearted Child

The Ballet

Tchaikovsky’s ballet of  ‘Swan Lake’ is coming to our city next week.   Continue reading

‘These are the days when birds come back’

Observing

We have been studying birds this term – learning names of garden birds, spotting them wherever we go, listening out for the ever increasing bird song as spring takes up residence, learning about their homes, nest making, migration and more.  We are total amateurs and our garden’s most common visitors are wood pigeons, blackbirds, robins and magpies, but all the same we have delighted in having time to actually observe them carefully.  As well as enjoying the birds around us, this morning we visited our local RSPB Nature Reserve, where a delightful retiree took time to point out oyster catchers, herons, a yellowhammer and some grass snakes!

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The Bayeux Tapestry

If you’ve been watching the news recently you will have noticed that The Bayeux Tapestry is coming to Britain in 2020.  There has been great excitement in our house since we heard, as we are right in the middle of studying the Norman Conquest of 1066. Continue reading