After our journey southward from Alnwick, Whitney met Kara and I at Oxford station. How exciting! Whitney! In another country! And Oxford, a place that’s so steeped in history and beauty that it makes you mourn the state of Calgary much more acutely than before. Everywhere you turn in Oxford you find something that once inspired CS Lewis, somewhere that JRR Tolkien sat, or some deer that belong to the Queen and are officially classed as people.

After a year of living in (and attending) Oxford, Whitney was the best tour guide two girls from Calgary could ask for. She knew all the best places to go, and she had a magical alumni card that got us in everywhere! My favourite stop was the one where the admittance fellow decided to pretend I was under 7 so I qualified for free admission. Yes, I did get carded at the bar later that evening, why do you ask?

Most of our stops were at Oxford colleges (and though we saw at least 10 we barely scratched the surface). Whitney told us that the college system was devised to protect students after several were killed in riots hundreds of years ago, which explains the castle-like fortifications of the older colleges, as well as the tight-knit community life.

Apparently these little fellows (there’s a pair of them flanking the door there) inspired C.S. Lewis’ Mr. Tumnas from the Chronicles of Narnia.