Magdalen College stands on the west side of Magdalen Bridge, and towers over all those who enter the city of Oxford from the East. For many visitors, it is their first impression of Oxford, and I am no different. I first visited Oxford in spring 2012, and arrived on bus 280, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where I lived at the time. I was so taken by the experience that when the time came for me to make arrangements for my doctoral studies, I applied to membership of Magdalen, and to my great delight, I was among the select fortunates who were allowed to become a member of its student body.
One of the privileges of being a student member of Magdalen college, is the opportunity to climb the Tower, when the weather so allows. Members of my MCR had arranged to bring new students up the tower at various times during the week, although none of them had suited my busy introductory schedule. As so often in life, opportunities come along when you least expect them to, and so it happened that it was an overcast Saturday in October, the morning thereof I had spent in my department (as doctoral students are wont to do). On my way back home with a weekend’s worth of reading bundled up, I strolled past my college for lunch. That’s when I caught word of a climb being planned for 1 o’clock, and having swiftly finished my lunch, I found the great Tower gate unlocked, and was able to join my fellow graduate students and eagerly climb the steep (and frighteningly narrow!) set of stairs that spiral their way up-up-up the Tower.
By the time we reached the top the sun was out, brightly greeting us as we emerged from a narrow little door that leads onto the Tower roof. Although I found the climb rather unpleasant (too narrow, and too steep!), my persistence was rewarded with a remarkable and sunny early-autumn view of Oxford that was too good not to share…!