I returned to Oxford today after my Christmas holiday with a cousin in Totnes in Devon. Quite apart from the pleasure of catching up with family I always enjoy my visits to what is one of the most picturesque and historic towns in the country. Oxford is not that far away in so much as for the fact that Sir Thomas Bodley and his wife were from Totnes and its neighbourhood, but in other ways a visit to Totnes is to return to a quieter England that was disappearing elsewhere even when I was a child.
We spent a quiet Christmas, whilst I had the opportunity to catch up through my cousin's Sky TV link with a whole range of historical programmes - the usual re-runs of Time Team, yet more on Akenhaten and Tutenkamen, the Holy Shroud, American biblical archaeology (with the inevitible Evangelical biblical angst), Bettany Hughes on Helen of Troy and a programme on Filippo Lippi's Adoration of the Christ Child. There was also some good ski-jumping to watch.
A break in Totnes definitely hel;ps recharge my batteries, and so back I come for more teaching, lecturing, invigilating, blogging - and, once again with several ideas I always mean to follow up as lines of research - but never quite find the time. We shall see what 2011 brings in that aspect of life.