Over the last few years my son and I have enjoyed a number of trips into Oxford. It’s a city I still have so much to learn about, and don’t visit enough, seeing as how close we live to it. But a couple of weeks ago I’d got a date in the diary to meet up with a few members of the local group of A Year with My Camera. I wasn’t sure how well my son would take to joining the photography group for a few hours, but I packed his camera and hoped for the best. We jumped on the local park and ride bus and headed off to have some fun in the sun at Oxford Botanic Garden and beyond.
We were ahead of time so my son asked if we could pop into Waterstones to look at books. Yes you read that correctly. My son loves bookshops, even if he’s a reluctant reader, and in fact he makes a beeline for their adult engineering section every time we go into the city. I’ll grab any enthusiasm for reading with both hands. In the end he spotted a book about steam trains that I’ve bookmarked for a birthday present idea.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have zero sense of direction. Weird considering I’m actually good at reading maps, but there you go. So this wonderful inbuilt sat nav sent me off in the wrong direction, the only bridge we spotted was the Bridge of Sighs.
I did realise at that point that we had to be going in the wrong direction. A quick check with Google Maps confirmed my suspicions and put us back on the right track. I should have left my eight year old in charge of directions, he knew exactly where we were as we passed the Radcliffe Camera.
Onwards we went, with Magdalen Bridge in sight, we knew we were in the right place to have some fun in the sun at Oxford Botanic Garden and beyond. We were only a few minutes late, and quickly spotted other members of the group. We were waiting for a few others to arrive and my son found a couple of nice sunny spots to do some writing whilst we waited.
The Oxford Botanic Garden is right on the River Cherwell and one day I will get my son on a punt. I almost managed it a few years ago in Cambridge, but not quite. As we looked on at the punts were all lined up waiting for their punters to arrive.
We were each given a topic to focus on for our time in the garden, but by this point it was clear that my son was not going to want to stay with the group, and that any chance I had to think about symmetry was going to be slim. Of course, on the one occasion it would have been great for him to use his camera, he didn’t want. Normally it’s out of his bag as soon as we arrive somewhere. Children!
Having fun in the sun at Oxford Botanic Garden and beyond was clearly going to be on his terms. But it was a lovely warm autumnal day, so I just decided to go with him. He was enjoying himself, we were getting some fresh air and I did get to take a few photos along the way. But playing around with camera settings, with an eight year old in tow is not a recipe for harmony, so I didn’t really achieve what I wanted from a photographic point of view.
When we’d visited the garden earlier in the year it had been pouring with rain and there had been little colour on show. It was such a different experience this time around. I’d been worried we’d miss the summer colours, but there was lots still on show.
My little explorer set the route and was happy to run on ahead.
Always eager to hunt out the next archway.
Playing hide and seek along the way.
With more colour to be found at every turn.
This way Mummy!
Woe betide me if I spent too long anywhere taking photos, he’d soon be rushing back to make sure I was following his lead.
The weathering on the stonework caught his attention and he actually stood still for more than a second.
I set him a challenge to find flowers of different colours and off he charged again.
Looking this way and that, finding colour along the way.
We even spotted a ladybird hiding from the sun.
A bee hotel was also spotted and given some serious consideration.
It was then on to the water feature, and a few snatched moments for me to mess around with shutter speeds and show my son the results.
No visit to the garden is complete for my son without exploring the various greenhouses. He loves the climate changes and exotic plants living within the glass walls.
The carnivorous plants are always top of his must see list as well as the various pitcher plants.
In one of the greenhouses there’s a large pond which is full of large lily pads. It’s somewhere we both love to visit and look at the roof reflections in the water.
An opportunity to walk around in circles is never missed either.
We decided to treat ourselves to a drink and homemade cake at the pop up cafe by the river and watched the punters go by.
My plans for the morning might have been modified by my son but we’d still spent a lovely couple of hours having fun in the sun at Oxford Botanic Garden and beyond. I’d spotted that the Museum of the History of Science opened at 12, it’s somewhere we’d never visited before so I suggested we take a look inside. We admire the architecture along the way. The buildings in Oxford really are stunning.
The museum is free to enter, and is quite small. There are three floors of scientific instruments on display. It is really somewhere we need to revisit when my son’s a little older I think, but it was good to finally see what lay behind the doors.
We’d had a lovely time visiting Oxford, getting out and about in the autumn sun, and just spending time together. What have you been up to recently?