Travel Tuesdays: Godstow Abbey
Calling all Alice in Wonderland lovers!
If you ever make it to Oxford, England, the place where Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) lived and worked, you must make sure to experience all of the "Alice" related sites.
Of course, the easiest ones to find are in the city--Alice's Shop, Christ Church College, etc. These locations are where the real Alice lived and spent time with Dodgson. There are, however, many other places you can see. They are a bit out of the way and you need to make sure you have your walking shoes on (and check the weather, too), but it is totally worth it to venture out of the Oxford city center and wander throughout the surrounding countryside to see some of the other places associated with the story. The walk was long (though we stopped at two pubs along the way), but it is still one of my very best memories of the whole trip! Just walking in the quiet, green countryside with sheep and horses and cows roaming all around us was perfect. The weather felt more like a spring day than a hot July afternoon. I just can't explain it. It was one of those perfect times spent sometimes in solitude walking behind the group, sometimes chatting with friends I came to love.
(You can read more about the day and see my photos in this post.)
Dr. Bob Halli and his wife Allen Jones took all of us willing to hike the 7+ miles (famously known to UA at Oxford students as the "Alice Walk") to see where the real Alice's governess lived and the treacle well mentioned in the book. This is actually St. Margaret's Well.
From there, we went to Godstow Abbey, the location where Alice and her sisters used to picnic with Dodgson after he would take them in the boat down the river.
Godstow is a very old site dating from the 1100s. There is a bit of Wikipedia information about it, and a great post about getting there (well, sort of...I think you have to buy the book)on the Thames Pathway site. Actually, just get someone at the tourism office in the city center to tell you how to get there. It isn't hard!
I am a big believer in experiencing books in any way that I can--not just on the page. I also think that for children, especially, these kind of literary-related outings are incredibly important.
Of course, you don't have to go to Oxford to have this experience. Chances are, you have a children's writer living somewhere in your neck of the woods. Get to know about them and their books. Try to go to a book signing. Or, even better, if the author uses locations around your area, visit them. Before you go on any trip or to any big city, read books that have scenes in that city. They don't have to be nonfiction. Just think...you could read the Eloise books before going to New York City and then take your child to The Plaza! Talk about bringing a book to life! You can also do this with museums...think dinosaur stories before going to an exhibit...or a space story before going to the planetarium! These are all simple ideas, for sure, but we forget about them.
Reading isn't just for school or to get bare bones facts. It is an experience that is meant to live beyond the page. So, take a literary trip or two!