How an Oxford college got me excited for autumn…

On pretty much the 1st of September the temperature dropped and I knew summer was about to end. I felt disappointed until a lunchtime trip changed my mind…

From January to May this year I was experiencing 40-degree heat in Africa and since then the English summer has kept me satisfied. I managed to squeeze in trips abroad to Croatia, Bosnia, Munich, Nuremberg and Vienna and a couple of staycations to Brighton, Manchester and Glastonbury Festival – all whilst working full-time.

If only English summers looked like Croatian ones!

So with all of those recent expeditions, winter in England somehow wasn’t thrilling me hugely. Until I decided to check out Merton College during my lunch break.

There are 38 Oxford colleges – dreamy worlds set behind the busy streets. Many of them are 800 years old and have towers, chapels, woodlands and gardens hidden inside. Honestly, from the McDonalds on the main street you’d never guess what was just metres away. It’s basically Narnia which is funny (or fitting) as Narnia was actually based on Oxford.

It’s going to take me a while to visit them all but I’m giving it my best shot!

Me exploring Balliol, my favourite Oxford college where my dad is the head gardener!

On my way from my office to Merton College I got carried away snapping photos on Merton Street – one of the prettiest streets in Oxford in my opinion. It runs opposite the High Street and is really quiet and sleepy with no shops – just some stunning doorways and windows.

I started to realise that the leaves that had been green last time I’d walked down there were now turning red and brown and were really lovely. Some of them even looked like little hearts hanging over the pale stone walls.

Merton

I snuck through the creaky wooden door from the street into Merton College. These doorways are everywhere in Oxford and the colleges inside are enormous – I genuinely don’t understand how they fit!

Merton is about 800 years old and fights with Balliol about which one of them is Oxford’s oldest college.

Visitors: Anyone can visit Merton during the open hours of 2pm-5pm for an entrance fee of £3. I get in for free as I work for the University which is a blogging win – but if you’re visiting Oxford, I’d say £3 is definitely worth it.

Fun fact: The Oxford colleges were invented as fortresses of protection for the students who got chased out and murdered by the local townspeople. Wow!

As soon as I got inside it was beautiful. Check it out:

In case you were wondering, smart 18-year-olds actually live here as their college halls. Do they sit inside drinking Strongbow and eating super noodles like the rest of us UK students? I don’t know but if anyone reading does, please fill me in!

Window hunt

I love cute doorways and windowsills and Merton College is full of them. I found this first one in the main quad almost as soon as you enter the college. The leaves around it were still green but autumnal red berries were starting to grow – it made me think of a Christmas wreath.

About 10 minutes later whilst wandering the grounds and getting a bit lost, I found three gorgeous windows on a path at the back of the college.

Dead Man’s Walk

This little walkway with the windows is separated by some railings from a path called ‘Dead Man’s Walk’.

Why?

Rumour has it that the ghost of a colonel executed by firing squad in 1645 haunts this walkway. I don’t really believe in ghosts myself but with the huge amount of history in Oxford, I do love all its weird and wonderful stories.

I didn’t see any ghosts during my visit – but I did notice the railings on the walkway are topped with these. What do you think they are? They look like pineapples without the leaves but I think might actually be acorns.

I found autumn!

Next, I found an open green space inside Merton and realised how autumnal everything was looking. As well as more gorgeous windows with red berries, the leaves on the trees had turned yellow and were falling to the ground.

From most places in the college I could spy Merton College Chaple (above) which is really pretty.

Merton fact: On the last Sunday of October to make the transition from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time, the students traditionally walk backwards and twirl each other around the quad whilst drinking port and wearing gowns.

(If we’d done this at my uni, the gowns would have replaced with shorts bordering on indecent and the port would have been swapped for budget vodka!)

Anyway, I went back to work with a spring in my step and thoughts of woolly scarfs and new knitwear. Are you looking forward to autumn?

Thanks for reading!!

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