Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Chapter Closes

The dissertation is in, the last exam paper written, where have three years disappeared to?
We have just returned our lovely granddaughter back to Oxford having collected her to spend a couple of days with us now her finals are over. 
Travelling to our home from Oxford we stopped at our favourite restaurant for lunch.
a brisk walk before supper
The following day we headed off to see the Peregrine Falcons nesting at Symons Yat. The journey took us passed the 17th century Dutch Water Gardens at Westbury Court, a rare and beautiful survival.
Dutch water gardens feature enclosed areas, lines of planting, clipped evergreens, topiary, long water canals and the occasional statue. In the late 18th century formal gardens such as this went out of fashion and were replaced by the natural landscape gardens introduced by Capability Brown. 
Next stop the mixed woodlands of the Forest of Dean - one of the surviving ancient English wild forests. A large area of the forest was reserved for royal hunting prior to 1066.
The bluebells have given way to newly unfurling bracken
Take care beautiful granddaughter! - the forest is full of wild boar
Looking down on the Wye Valley towards Wales from Symonds Yat - the River Wye contains brown sediment following a heavy storm which swept across the Welsh mountains a few days ago
In the other direction the River Wye heads off to join the River Severn before entering the Bristol Channel
The cliff face where the Peregrine Falcons are nesting. They have two big fluffy grey chicks. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have two wardens on watch and powerful telescopes that you can look through to see the birds. We saw the chicks and the male Peregrine, so mission accomplished. My little point and shoot camera is not good enough to zoom in on them.
The River Wye flows in a number of huge meandering loops. In the 18th century a boat tour down the Wye was a fashionable alternative to the European Grand Tour. Tourists alighted from their boats below the cliff face where the Peregrines now nest and made their way up the steep climb. Both men and women wore large straw panama hats, the women long skirts, the men waistcoats and stiff collared white shirts. On reaching the top of Yat Rock they would admire the grandeur of the scenery.
On Yat Rock it is possible to see an example of a limestone pavement very rarely found this far south in England. Formed around 350 million years ago during the Carboniferous period, it is hard to conceive that this was once part of the seabed.
On our return journey home we passed Tintern Abbey sitting alongside the River Wye 
A romantic ruin, its pointed arches thrusting heavenwards - the subject of countless artists brushes, and poets pens - amongst them Turner, Wordsworth and Tennyson
Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, a Cistercain Abbey where the monks wore white. They followed an austere way of life, their basic principles being obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer and work.
On 3rd September 1536 Abbot Wyche surrendered Tintern Abbey and all it's estates to King Henry Vlll ending a way of life that had lasted for 400 years. Valuables from the abbey were sent to the Royal Treasury, the lead was stripped from the roof and sold, and the decay of the building began. 
A final wander around the quad and chapel of Keble College designed by William Butterfield, a man with a proven track record as an exponent of the Gothic style. Butterfield claimed that he 'had a mission to give dignity to brick'

On its construction in 1870, Keble was not widely admired because of its brickwork - it also broke the Oxbridge tradition by arranging rooms along corridors rather than around staircases. Today, however, it is renowned for being visually striking, the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described the design as 'manly'. It was a completely new High Victorian version of Gothic and could not be accused of copying mediaeval examples.
Keble chapel

The chapel shows Butterfield's ability to rework the Gothic into his own formula, especially in the treatment of wall surfaces. The interior is decorated with colourful tiles, mosaics, and stained glass. 
The Light of the World by Holman Hunt
This famous painting hangs in the Side Chapel, and is the original painted by the artist and first hung in the Royal Academy in 1854. He started the painting when he was 21 years old, but it was not until he was 29 that he finished it. One of the reasons for this length of time was his desire to perfect the dawn light. He took the picture with him to the Middle East, and found the perfect dawn just outside Bethlehem. When he was 70 he painted a replica which hangs in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.
All our love and best wishes go with you on the next chapter of your life♡  

70 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary,
    I did not want this post to end. It is so full of love, nature and history. Congratulations to your beautiful and talented granddaughter. I wish her continued success as she puts her stamp on our world. Seeing the pelegrine falcons must have been a wonder. A sadness overcomes me when I see such innocent beauty and I have an urge to guard their nest against predators.
    "The Light of the World" by Holman Hunt has me speechless and I shall just gaze upon it in awe and wonder.
    Thank you Rosemary for a beautiful post on a sunny Sunday morning.
    Helen xx

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    1. Hello Helen - I am grateful for your kind comment, I had been mulling over whether or not this post was too long.
      Sadly it is necessary to guard falcon nests, not necessarily from natural predators, but from those with two legs who like to collect eggs.
      Granddaughters college is very fortunate to have this wonderful painting in their possession. It was left to them by Thomas Combe, printer to the university at Oxford University Press.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, First of all, Congratulations on your granddaughter's graduation, which represents such a considerable achievement of work and talent. The best of luck to her.

    It really isn't necessary to hike in wild nature preserves to see nesting falcons. For years, a pair has been living on a ledge of the Terminal Tower, a skyscraper overlooking downtown Cleveland, Ohio:
    http://fox8.com/2014/05/20/terminal-tower-peregrine-falcons-banded/

    There is even a "Falcon-Cam" trained on them live, but it would not work from Taiwan--perhaps it will from other places.
    --Jim


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    1. Hello Jim - you are right the falcons these days seem to have adapted and taken over so many of our high buildings. Most of our cathedral churches here with high spires have a web cam showing falcon nests too.
      Thank you for your kind congratulations - it will be three weeks before we know what class of degree she has achieved, but she has always been a very diligent student.

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  3. Dear Roaemary - Many congratulations to your granddaughter! What an accomplishment. I wish her much success on this new journey. And thanks for allowing us to sightsee with you all - really enjoyed the Dutch water garden as I'm a fan of formal garden styles, topiaries, symmetry, etc

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    1. Thank you Loi for your kind comment - may be you will be able to call and see Westbury Court Water Garden sometime when you are over.

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  4. Good Morning Rosemary, this last image of H and your granddaughter in the chapel is quite special. Congratulations to her. The story of the captured light on the painting shows a level of dedication I fear that is lost to us now. Olive

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    1. Thank you Olive, it did feel a special moment for us all. You are right about Holman Hunt being so dedicated in making sure that he got the perfect dawn light for his painting.

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  5. What a lovely couple of days for you all. From where you live there are so many wonderful places to see, all easily accessible. I hadn't heard of Westbury though, a new garden to visit!

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    1. Dear Jessica - Westbury is NT, and if you do decide to make the trip you could easily include the Forest of Dean and Symonds Yat if you haven't been.

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  6. Such beautiful photos, Rosemary! I love the perspective of the ones taken from behind your husband and granddaughter... all the very best to her for her future ventures - I am quite sure a lot of wonderful new things await her :-)

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    1. Thank you Nat for your kind comment - she is going inter-railing during the summer with a friend. She hopes to visit as many of the great cities in Europe as she can. It is time that she had a break from studying.

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  7. What a lovely post, and what a lovely time you had with your gorgeous granddaughter. I know exactly how much you will have enjoyed it. Congratulations to her on completing her 3 years....and what a beautiful place to be a student.

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    1. I remember that you lost your mother when she was quite young as I did, so it is at times like this that I appreciate how fortunate I am in comparison to see my grandchildren grow up and to share some of their experiences.

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  8. Not so much a blog post , more a glorious hymn to youth, beauty, age, wisdom, natural and man-made wonders. Bravo!

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    1. Yes! This post is an eclectic mix, and I appreciate and love the way you have expressed your comment Nilly.

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  9. Congratulations to your granddaughter, whatever the next chapter brings for her, I hope that it is all wonderful. What a lovely visit to have taken with you, so many beautiful and amazing sights to see. Your photograph of the bracken unfurling is amazing. xx

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    1. We had a very happy and memorable couple of days with her - she is going to travel in Europe during the summer now that her studying is finished for the moment.
      I nearly didn't include that photo so pleased that you liked it.

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  10. Hello Rosemary,
    Your granddaughter is doing well. Your photos are awesome. I like them all. It's so wonderful to be able to see what you see. Thr greenery in the bush is luscious.
    Regards..Margaret.

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    1. Dear Margaret - because of the very mild winter with heavy rain everything this year has grown like "topsy" and is as you suggest very green and lush. Glad you enjoyed the scenery - Symonds Yat is not very far from me, and yet it is the first time I have visited - I shall definitely return.

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  11. Hi Rosemary, first of all, congratulations to your granddaughter, you must be so proud of her! Exams are still on here, for our oldest in his first year of university, for our second in his last year of highschool and our youngest, her third year in highschool(there are six years of highschool in total). I don't quite understand the British schoolsystem so don't know what ends here and what begins next for your granddaughter but I do wish her a great break(from studying).
    Thank you for sharing so much beauty again from your wonderful country. So full of pretty nature, architecture, art, history. Love it!
    Marian

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    1. Hello Marian - the young people here go to University when they are 18 years old so granddaughter is now 21. Oxford exams are still ongoing at the moment, I know that her boyfriend doesn't even start his until tomorrow. The day we took her back some students were returning to her college in their exam gowns - I think that they are all over in about 2 weeks time, her subjects just happened to be the first to sit.

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    2. I guess she has finished her bachelor then and must now choose a master? That's how it works here anyway. It's exam time all over here at the moment ;)
      Marian

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    3. It is hard to take exams when the sun is shinning brightly - yes, she will have a gap year and then do a masters.

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  12. The Wye valley is so lovely; hills, views, trees, river and so peaceful, the history along the river is so interesting, haven't been that way for many years so thanks for the nudge. The college is soooooooo pretty too, didn't realise you could visit so it's place on my 'must visit' list. Thank you!

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    1. Visit soon Elizabeth - Keble is one of the few colleges that you can wander around without paying - I don't know why. You can visit between 2.00pm - 5.00pm, we got in sooner from a back entrance as granddaughter has a key. They only close the gates if the Warden has a garden party or they have a College event. You can go into the chapel and also see the wonderful library and dining hall through the glass doors.

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  13. So many beautiful things to see in this post, thank you for the stunning tour !

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    1. Thank you Jane - we had a delightful couple of days with granddaughter.

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  14. Dear Rosemary,what a lovely post!
    How precious and touching are the moments with Mr H and your granddaughter,i can say!!Congratulations to your granddaughter, you must be so proud of her!Wishing her all the best!!Amazing landscapes and wonderful photos from your walk!!Have a happy new week!
    Dimi...

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    1. Thank you for Dimi - we had a wonderful time together, it was lovely that she wanted to come and relax with us following her exams. It has left us with some very special memories.

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  15. Another delightful trip with wonderful photos Congratulations and best wishes to your lovely granddaughter. Enjoy your time with her.

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    1. It is so lovely to hear from you Sanda - I thought about you this morning and in fact visited your blog to see if I had missed anything, but all was still quiet. I am so pleased that you are still around - thank you for your very kind comment.

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  16. WAUW....What a nice interesting post Rosemary.
    The best wishes for youre Granddaugther...
    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Thank you Inge - I was a little concerned that it was too long, we saw so much in just a couple of days.
      Sending greetings over to you too

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  17. This was such a rich post. Best wishes and congratulations to your granddaughter as she sets off on the next chapter!
    You, in England, are so fortunate in the number of wonderful gardens you can visit. I long to spend some weeks wandering - getting my fill of them. The Great Dane laughs at my wishing to see Oxford - but I shall!........and Tintern Abbey as well. In the meantime, there's always your blog...............

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    1. Dear Pondside - you will just have to set off alone again, and leave the Great Dane having a laugh. It is surprising just how much we saw during our granddaughter time, I am afraid that I am not very good at précising my posts.
      If you want to visit Oxford then I am sure you will one day.
      Thank you for your kind congratulations, we are now on tender hooks waiting to discover what class degree she achieved.

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  18. Congratulations to your granddaughter in completing her time at University. My daughter finishes this week too after 3 years and starts work next week! You seem to have packed in so many lovely outings with your grand daughter. We are hoping to visit Symonds Yat in the next few weeks, the views from it look amazing! Sarah x

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    1. Good luck to your daughter Sarah setting off in her new career.
      You will love it at Symonds Yat - there is so much to see and do around the area. It is not too far from us - we shall definitely be returning.

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  19. Dear Rosemary,

    I wish your granddaughter all the best as she stands at that wonderful (in every sense of the word) crossroads, where there is potential in every direction. I hope she follows her passions, and what a wonderful start she has!

    There is so much to comment on here, but I want to thank you especially for the marvelous brickwork of Keble College. I love that the mosaics approximate stained glass, and I would not have expected the tile and brickwork behind the side-wall arches. I like that, too. And how can one not like hexagonal halos?!

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    1. Dear Mark - she is going to travel through Europe during the summer, and then has several volunteering jobs lined up at both Cambridge and Oxford University Museums. She will also be helping her father at his school. Next year she will do an MA in Museum Curatorship/Education.
      I am sure that you would enjoy wandering around Butterfield's buildings, but I confess that I had not noticed the hexagonal halos - thank you for bringing that to my attention.

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  20. Such a wonderful achievement to graduate and I wish your granddaughter many congratulations. I just loved the tour you took us on, it was beautiful. I've always wanted to visit Tintern Abbey and now want to go there all the more! Thankyou.
    Patricia x

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    1. Dear Patricia - Thank you for your congratulations, we still await the news of what class degree she got but pleased that you enjoyed the tour - I am sure that you would really enjoy visiting the area especially in that gorgeous little travelling home you have.

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  21. What a lovely time you had with your granddaughter, stunning photos. I wish her well in the next chapter of her life adventure.

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    1. Thanks Linda - we all had a lovely time together, the sun shone and granddaughter was feeling very relaxed having finished all her exams.

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  22. This is my third attempt at leaving a comment Rosemary! It looks like you had a lovely time with your granddaughter. I wish her well in the next chapter of her life adventure.

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    1. Sorry about that Linda - number 3 must be floating around in the blogosphere.

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  23. Dear Rosemary,
    congratulations to your sweet granddaughter! And thank you for that journey through a beautiful patch of England!

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    1. Dear Britta - Thank you for the lovely comment - she is relieved that the exams are all over - we had a very happy couple of days enjoying her company.

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  24. Such a lovely area. I once wrote an article on what you could do on the one inch OS map on which that amazing garden appears. So much to see. And MUST visit Keble - your post reminds me that I've wanted to for ages. All the very best to your granddaughter as she embarks on her new life - it' is a very momentous time. As ever., a great post, Rosemary.

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    1. You will enjoy visiting Keble Jenny - open 2 - 5.00pm unless any college function is taking place. Most of the other colleges do not allow entry these days or charge a fee.
      Glad you know the area, it seems to have been cut off a little these days with the two Severn River bridges.

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  25. It's been a while since I've been by… I've been extraordinarily busy!! But, loving your wonderful pictures and all that goes with them…

    Hope you've been well!
    Marica

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    1. Dear Marica - how lovely to hear from you, I know that you have your hands very full. So pleased that you enjoyed seeing our little excursion spent with our granddaughter.

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  26. Oh so beautiful pictures...stunning! You live in a beautiful country Rosemary...
    Have a great and sunny week!
    Love Titti

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    1. Thank you so much Titti for your sweet comment - my poppy seeds are coming up - I am very hopeful that they may flower soon.

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  27. Sounds you had a wonderful time with your granddaughter.

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  28. Congratulations to your beautiful granddaughter, Rosemary. Your country is so beautiful. Once again you show us such lovely places and views. Thank you!

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    1. Dear Satu - I am pleased that you enjoyed our little outing with the Granddaughter, it is surprising how much we saw in just one day.

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  29. Thank you for a post full of delights Rosemary. Congratulations to your granddaughter on graduating from Oxford! I do love the grandfather/granddaughter pictures, just delightful, and she looks like a little forest sprite in those forest scenes. I've never heard of Dutch Water gardens, which look really interesting; and then to see the famous Tintern Abbey, as well as Keble and the "Light of the World": you have had a great adventure!

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    1. Dear Patricia - it is surprising just how much you can pack into a couple of days. H is very good at making us a picnic and then off we go - carefree all day long.
      Glad that you enjoyed seeing our little romp together, it was special for us to spend time with her.

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  30. Such an absolutely beautiful post, Rosemary. A gorgeous little jaunt for me on this side of the ocean. Thank you, Rosemary. I wish your granddaughter well in her future endeavors. An Oxford grad has the whole world available to her, I'm thinking. :) I think I've mentioned that I was fortunate enough to travel to Oxford many MANY years ago. I still remember it well (still have some old photos). Such a distinguished and yet magical place.

    Your photos of the hills and wandering river reminded me yet again how green England is. There is just no other green like it. And what a lovely chapel at Keble College. I do love all the brickwork and the William Holman Hunt painting and, well, just everything. :)

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    1. Thank you Yvette for your very kind comment, I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it all. We had a very special few days with our granddaughter which we loved. She has always been an extremely diligent, hard working, student, we now await what class of degree she has got.

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  31. What a lovely post, Rosemary.
    So many lovely places although the Wye Valley is the best - it has to be one of my favourite spots on earth.
    My eldest nephew is at University at present. It makes me feel nervous because I think he is growing up and becoming an adult whereas only yesterday he was a little boy or so it seems…

    There is a fabulous second hand/antiquarian bookshop at Tintern - have you been there?
    Bye for now,
    Kirk

    PS
    I know it sounds like bragging but I have a close affinity to Tintern Abbey because the de Clares are among my ancestors.

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    1. It seems no time at all since our granddaughter was a new baby and now she has actually finished her first degree - they do say time flies.
      We very nearly bought a house looking towards Tintern Abbey, it was designed by a Norwegian Architect for himself, and had some really lovely features, but I got cold feet about living so close to the River Wye re: flooding.
      I have not been to the bookshop, but don't get an ice-cream from the shop just below the abbey they charge an arm and a leg for one small scoop.

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  32. What a memorable way to mark the end of your granddaughter's time at oxford. you obviously had a wonderful weekend togather an your photographs are super, especially the gorgeous Dutch water gardens, the views from Symonds Yat and the wonder that is the remains of Tintern Abbey.

    As for Keble, your photos took me back nearly 50 years to when I had friends at Keble and would drop in on them on my way to or from the city centre (I was at LMH). Even in the 60s Keble's architecture was underrated and I'm glad Butterfield's genius is now properly recognised.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - I love the campus at Keble - the red brickwork offset by the immaculately mown grass, and the borders full of flowers.
      We had a lovely time together, it is surprising just how much you can do in a couple of days. We shall be sad not to have an excuse to visit Oxford, may be another grandchild will get a place there?

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  33. Thoroughly, totally, wonderfully absorbed in your lovely post. Suzy x

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    1. I am bowled over by your very generous and kind comment - thank you Suzy.

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  34. A wonderful post which I shall read at leisure as there's so much to take in and enjoy; so many of my favourite places were visited on this special day with your grand daughter and I send my best wishes as she moves on to another chapter of her life.

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    1. Thank you for your best wishes Linda - I am delighted at your kind response to the post and that you would wish to return and view it again.

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