I haven’t been around too much this week, for which I apologise.
We’ve been away.
It started with a few errands to run, ‘up country’.
We were late leaving home. And wouldn’t it be the day, of all days, when the electric gate failed leaving us stuck, along with the car, on the wrong side. A bit of brute force had to be employed, and a new problem is added to the ever lengthening list of ‘stuff’ to sort out.
But one doesn’t get sent to jail for breaking and entering (or even exiting) their own property..
No, this was an entirely voluntary sentence.
Mike had a significant birthday a couple of weeks ago, so we decided to treat ourselves to an overnight stop at somewhere a little bit different.
For 1,000 years Oxford Castle has occupied this five-acre site in the heart of the historic city. The castle was originally built by Robert D’Oilly for William the Conqueror and has been home to kings, sheriffs and, latterly, convicts. For 900 years it was used as a prison, enclosed by high walls, until it finally shut its heavily fortified doors in 1996. Since then the heritage buildings and surrounding areas have been sensitively redeveloped to provide a hotel, bars, restaurants, an art gallery and a museum. It’s now one of the most vibrant districts in this bustling old university town (edited from the Oxford Preservation Trust).
So, fancy a night locked away in the slammer? You could of course go out and commit a crime..
But there are far more comfortable ways.
Our room was in fact three cells knocked into one, two for the sumptuous bedroom and the third providing a luxurious en-suite. Rather more salubrious than the facilities ‘enjoyed’ by the previous incumbents methinks.
The corridor that was once the way through to the Exercise Yard
After settling ourselves in Mike decided he fancied a walk. It was a bitterly cold night outside and we’d left our coats in the car.
Oxford is a pretty dreadful place to park. What a smart move it was then to have paid extra for the hotel car park and be able to leave the car right outside the door. There wouldn’t be too far to go coatless.. would there?
Except outside in the courtyard, the car was nowhere to be seen. Within seconds a man came running from the hotel reception brandishing the key. He took us across to a large metal door set into a wall. The door slid open to reveal something I wasn’t expecting at all: a huge metal box. As it transpired, a lift. A lift large enough to take a car. To retrieve our coats we descended into an underground cavern deep in the bowels of the earth.
A cell doorway on ‘A’ Wing
After the brisk walk round Oxford, dinner. In the basement of the hotel, as it happens not far from that original cell left unrestored for posterity, a completely different world. A bar and brasserie. Being right in the city centre this place was buzzing. Cocktails being served, Christmas parties in full swing. So often these days, especially in modern hotels, service can be patchy to say the least. Not so here. The food was excellent and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.
I might have to re-offend.