Deciding to try our luck with a short break in this country, we booked a stay in Oxford, and were interested to see how the changes would effect our stay. Arriving at the hotel there were safety signs everywhere, telling us to wear masks and to use the hand sanitizer. We were greeted by a friendly receptionist who was situated behind a screen also wearing a mask.
After filling in a couple of forms and having our temperature taken, we were given the room key. The room was as normal, with a sign telling us that it had been thoroughly cleaned and that this would be done each day if we wanted. The only big difference was that there was no longer a breakfast buffet. The hotel would provide us with a continental breakfast in a 'grab and go' paper bag. However, the next morning we were also offered cereal and toast which was very much appreciated.
On our visits, we like to see the sights as well as the local art galleries, unfortunately we were a week to early to see the galleries and most of the colleges had closed months ago and were undergoing renovation work.
We did manage to visit the grounds of Magdalene college and were surprised by the size of the grounds, which included a Deer park.
The buildings in the city were very impressive and they had kept the old buildings and not added huge modern that ruined the skyline, which has happened in a lot of cities.
As well as the city centre, we visited the parks, which were superb open spaces, and strolled along the waterways, often stopping to watch the boats and at times admire the people using the punts, although a couple of them looked like they were going to give themselves heart attacks!
One thing that surprised us was the lack of sculptures. In Queen's park there was one that incorporated nesting boxes for Swifts, which seemed to be a good idea. It seems a shame that artworks weren't added into the landscape. especially in a city of educational excellence. It surprised us that the arts weren't celebrated in this way.
Maybe the abundance of figures etc. on the old buildings made up for this, or we weren't looking in the right places! The only time we came across modern artwork was in the new shopping centre, but after a couple of visits we failed to notice any, until on our way out, where one was situated and a sign mentioned the others.
For the last month, during lockdown, I haven't managed to get out to do any sketching, and my favourite haunts, the local cafes have been closed. Also, the weather hasn't been good so I've not been able to visit local beauty spots and I have found that I need more practice on my sketching. This break had allowed me to recapture some of my skill and I enjoyed putting pen to paper so to speak!
Oxford is a beautiful city and a great place for a short stay, with superb architecture, open spaces and other places to visit nearby. People's reaction to the virus was evident although face masks in several places aren't compulsory there yet. The half price meals helped keep our food bill down and we had some enjoyable meals.
Having experienced this type of short holiday, in this country during the present problems, we may well look for another one in a few weeks.