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When will it stop raining? Since my last post about all the flooding seen in the north it doesn’t feel like we have had a fully dry day. We were hoping to get a nice visit in to a garden at the weekend to get some snowdrop photos. The constant rain put paid to that on Saturday. So instead, looking for somewhere indoors we took ourselves to Oxford to visit the Ashmolean Museum.

Years ago we used to live near Oxford so would head into the city frequently. This was the first time we have been back in probably 6 years. Getting the Park and Ride we were taken into the city centre passed a massive hole in the ground. They are redeveloping (i.e dropping and rebuilding) the hideous looking Westgate shopping centre. As we passed we could see a group of achaeologists cleaning up the remains of a few old stone walls. It was great to see that there are still some achaeologists in work, as there have been significant cuts to the amount of money available for archaeology in the last few years.

We picked the Ashmolean because it is a fascinating place. Somewhere where you could easily spend all day. One gallery that we had to go to was the one containing European art.  I have always been a fan of impressionists, and I love the pointillist art of Pissarro; they have quite a few of his work from this period. But one of galleries that I had completely forgotten about was that of Music and Tapestry. Here they have a collection of some of the greatest stringed instruments on public display in the world. The oldest known violin is here; a 1564 Andrea Amati.

The oldest violin in the world. A 1564 Andrea Amati violin.

The oldest violin in the world. A 1564 Andrea Amati violin.

Probably the most famous violin in the worlds is also on display here: The Messiah, built by the master instrument creator Antonio Stradivari.

The Messiah

The Messiah

It was donated to the museum in 1939 and is said to be worth well over $20m. However once a museum gets its hands on a great piece they almost never sell them, so I guess it could be said to be priceless. The sad thing about it is that it is never played. Not because of its value, but because of a stipulation of the donation. Whilst this preserves its ‘almost new’ state this seems such a shame. Surely the whole pointed of expertly created instruments is to have them played, and enjoy the sounds? Fortunately the museum does allow some of them to be played occasionally. Youtube shows some videos of them being played back in 2013 when the museum hosted a Stradivarious exhibition.

We did manage to get a few snowdrop photos on sunday at Rodmarton Manor, but unsurprisingly we got rained on here to.

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