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By Trish Swain
Friday 14th October saw ‘The Swan Bottom Ladies and Friends’ congregate bright and early in Great Missenden to pick up the charabanc on a gloriously sunny morning. Next stop Oxford, where we were deposited safely and smoothly outside the Ashmolean Museum to begin our seventh annual outing.
The museum has had a major refurbishment costing around £60m and our guides led us round the reconfigured galleries, centred around a stunning atrium with a cascading staircase. The curators have taken the opportunity to emphasise the fabulous treasures on a theme of ‘Crossing cultures, crossing time’ and our guides gave us a tour of some of the highlights of the collection, linking eastern and western civilisations and cultures.
The original collection was donated by Mr Elias Ashmole in the 17th century. He, in turn, had purchased the artifacts from the estate of the Tradescant family, who were famous both as gardeners and explorers in that century.
We ended our tour looking at Henry VIII’s stirrups and the lantern Guy Fawkes was holding when apprehended in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament.
Ladies who also lunch
No Swan Bottom Ladies outing is complete without a lunch – a splendid one was available in the rooftop restaurant in full sun (see above) followed by the opportunity to lounge in a deckchair on a grassy sward on top of the museum.
We decided to while away the rest of the afternoon doing some sightseeing round the colleges, where the golden stone and glorious gardens were at their best in the fabulous sunlight, with superb blue skies above.
As we boarded the coach home, many carrier bags were in evidence; proof that we do commerce as well as we do culture!
Finally, a huge thanks go to Frankie for her efforts in helping to organise the day.
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