One Old Oxford Ox

Following on from my last post I promised to tell you about Oxford. We stayed overnight in St Stephen’s Hall, one of the many student halls available to the general public for bed and breakfast. Previously we have stayed at Keble College but this was out of action due to renovation; no matter, St Stephen’s did not disappoint and as an added bonus it had car parking, a rarity in central Oxford. I loved staying in this tranquil, cloistered building which was surprisingly warm and friendly with its hidden herb gardens and quiet corners (see top two images, click to enlarge).

It was only a short stroll down the Cowley road into the town centre where we visited the Ashmoleon, The Natural History Museum with its famous dodo and the most amazingly quirky Pitt Rivers Museum. Oxford looked beautiful basking in spring sunshine, which made its honey coloured stone glow. I love to peep into secret gardens and soak in the ambience of this famous city with its bicycles and lovely old pubs and bookshops.

On our way home we returned to reality and caught the Friday afternoon traffic on the motorway which took us to the NEC where “Books Illustrated” were exhibiting original children’s book illustration including for the first time the amazing Nicola Bayley whose work I have admired for many years now. Included in the exhibition was a small selection of work from my book “White is the moon” which you can just about make out in the photograph. The exhibition will tour various venues around the country, the dates and places are available from the website here.

Nicola kindly gave me her permission to show you some of her work which you can see in more detail here on her website. I have a collection of her books on my shelf starting with “One Old Oxford Ox” one of the many books she illustrated for Jonathan Cape. She is perhaps best known for her amazingly detailed, exquisite, miniature paintings of cats, possibly the best known being “The Mousehole Cat.” Perhaps my all time favourite and desert island book is “All for the Newborn Baby” by Walker Books which is what I can only describe a work of pure genius with jeweled medieval inspired decorations; one for keeping and handling with white cotton gloves!