The Oxford Experience

My ideal vacation? GOING TO SCHOOL. Well, not just ANY school. My husband and I are enjoying a week’s stay in Christ Church College, the biggest college of Oxford University, where we are taking classes every morning on the subject of English Country Houses.

Me, student at Christ Church College

But we’re mainly here for the food, which is extremely good, and served in the astonishingly beautiful Hall that served as a model for the Great Hall in Hogwarts.

Christ Church College Dining Hall

Many places in the college have been used to shoot the Harry Potter movies. It’s easy to see why: there’s a mixture of imagination and magic here. In all of Oxford actually: it’s the city that boasts the most published writers per square mile; it’s here that Middle Earth took shape, and Narnia – and now it’s home to us, and this is where we’re staying:

The Top Floor Room is ours!

(I figured out this balcony is the ACTUAL balcony from Brideshead Revisited – where a drunken Anthony Blanche recites poetry from)

Couldn’t be happier.

The classes are wonderful, all about old english houses, why people built them, how they lived in them, how they treated their staff. It’s illuminated by many slides and films. We sit in the back and are secretly doodling, like we did in high school. Except now we don’t get punished for it, but admired by our kind classmates. Which is nice.

Here’s what I doodled so far:

Fantasy house


Country house dress


Country house bath


A myth laid to rest: inhabitants of the early castles in Britain actually never used boiling oil to repel their opponents.


More fantasy houses. Although there is a Victorian dog house in here that actually exists.


Word of the day: CRENELLATE. “To supply with battlements”.
In the sixteenth century you were not to crenellate without permission from the king, on pain of execution.
*Now You Know!*


The Delaval Family of Seaton Delaval were also called “the Gay Delavals”.
They loved playing practical jokes on their guests, like putting chickens in their bed.
One of the Delavals died when falling down the front stairs, dead drunk.
*Now You Know!*


This programme is called The Oxford Experience and I should really let the whole world know it’s an excellent way to spend your holidays: it’s a 5-star hotel combined with the best teachers you’ve ever known, amongst an international crowd that is enthusiastic and interesting.

But I think I won’t.

This will be our secret holiday (re)treat for years to come, wouldn’t want it spoiled by hordes of other people. So: DON’T COME! It’s Horrible! And who in his right mind would want to go to SCHOOL in their vacations anyway…?!