About David Murray
Learning from history and science through off road adventures.
- David Murray
The final day of my OED Tour to Oxford to find the house and resting place of my great great grandfather, Sir James Murray.In 1885, Sir James Murray moved from Mill Hill School near London, where he was an assistant master, to 78 Banbury Road (Sunnyside), Oxford, to continue his work on the NEW (later known as the OXFORD) English Dictionary.At Sunnyside he took up the post of full-time editor of the dictionary until his death on 26 July 1915. Here, in the garden, a corrugated-iron building was erected to house the slips of paper on which quotations for the dictionary were written.To cope with the shere volume of correspondence between Sir James Murray and his vast army of voluntary assistants, who sent in slips for individual words from all over the english-speaking world, a pillar box was installed in front of the house.The blue plaque above the pillar box was inaugurated at Sunnyside in October 2002 and the garden building that eventually housed three tons of slips is still standing today.From Sunnyside I cycled up the busy Banbury Road until I came to Wolvercote Cemetery where my great, great grandfather and grandmother were laid to rest.Shrouded in wild brambles and listing to the left, I could barely make out the inscription on the headstone which left me feeling rather sad. On close inspection it read as follows:SIR JAMES A.H. MURRAY L.L.D.
EDITOR OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY
BORN 7 FEBRUARY 1937,
DIED 26 JULY 1915.
ADA AGNES HIS DEVOTED WIFE
BORN 12 OCTOBER 1845,
DIED 28 FEBRUARY 1936.Leaving the cemetery, I decided to head back to Osney via Godstow along a beautiful, tranquil stretch of the River Thames. Freewheeling along a narrow singletrack my thoughts turned to James and his favourite motto 'Deo Soli Gloria'. James was a deeply religious man and he often used these words whenever he completed an especially difficult piece of lexicography, reflecting his belief that his success was due to the grace of God and his work a true vocation*.* Taken from The Murrays of Rulewater (1986) by Peter Ruthven-Murray (my father)
September 30, 2021
- David Murray
A chilly, misty Sunday morning breaking into glorious autumn sunshine greeted me on the second leg of my OED tour to Oxford. Continuing on the NCR 4 from Maidenhead I quickly met the Chiltern Hills, the most challenging part of my journey. After a steep climb up Knowl Hill Bridleway I rode into the sleepy village of Crazies Hill. Without a living soul in sight I took a quiet shortcut to the 4 x 4 hustle and bustle of Henley-on-Thames.Heading west out of Henley up Gravel Hill I suddenly turned left onto Pack and Prime Lane. It is very easy to miss the turning where the lane diverts off to the right, before Henley College Rotherfield, onto a very scenic mile and a half stretch of singletrack before coming out onto Greys Road.In hindsight I would have included more of the Judges' Ride route on my way to the historic market town of Wallingford across the Thames but the views were still stunning along the NCR 5 all the same.At exactly half way (22.5 miles), I took a scheduled stop at the delightful 16th century Inn, The Red Lion, in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell. With all its thatched houses, this has to be one of the most picturesque villages in Oxfordshire.The landlady very kindly offered me a garden table for lunch even though I had not made a reservation. Roast pork with all the essential trimmings followed by a slab of Bailey's cheesecake was happily washed down with a couple of pints of Village Idiot top. 😋 They even refilled my bike bottle! 👍After lunch I continued along the NCR 5 passing Brightwell Barrow on my right and then onto an amazing french-style tree lined avenue between Little Wittenham and Long Wittenham.Passing Long Wittenham, I took a detour off road onto a double singletrack around a very large field and combine harvester to the beautiful Church of Saints Peter and Paul at Appleford-on-Thames.At Sutton Courtenay I rejoined the NCR 5 which then shortly becomes The Hanson Way. This cycling route links Didcot, Abingdon and Oxford using a combination of quiet lanes and traffic-free paths (except on Sundays).Battling my way through a hubbub of walkers, runners, rowers and cyclists I finally managed to reach Abingdon and then lose myself cycling around the town's one way system. 😖🤔Finally I made my way back onto The Hanson Way to Oxford and luckily the foot traffic had died down a little. As I approached my destination I passed the Rowing Club Houses of Trinity and Christ Church and boatloads of novices undergoing instruction.All of a sudden everything was back to a calm, warm, sunny, September afternoon. 🌞
September 29, 2021
- David Murray
First leg of my Oxford English Dictionary (OED) tour to Oxford with a stopover in Maidenhead. Overcast but with a pleasant autumn breeze I followed NCR 4 (EV2) along the Thames from Kingston to Staines, then took a very pleasant quiet route along the Surrey Cycleway to Egham before rejoining the NCR 4 at Runnymede. A steep climb off road up Cooper's Hill Lane eventually brought me out at the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial. After a brief stop of solemn reflection on all those airmen lost in WW2, I then joined the Round Berkshire Cycling Route at Crimp Hill instead of the NCR 4 through Windsor Great Park at Bishopsgate.In need of sustenance on the Southlea Road, just outside Old Windsor, I decided to make an unscheduled stop at the Windsor Farm Coffee Shop for a slab of homemade lemon coconut cake and a pot of Earl Grey tea.After a short rest, I was back on the Round Berkshire Cycling Route for a further 3 miles before joining the Jubilee River Way (NCR 61) at Myrke. This is a fabulously fast rolling gravel path following the Jubilee River all the way to Maidenhead.Crossing the River Thames for the sixth time, I could see downstream the bright brick red arches of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Maidenhead Railway Bridge. Completed in 1838 it is still the flattest railway bridge of its kind ever built in the world. (See my collection 'Brunel from London to Bristol').
September 28, 2021
- David Murray
A beautifully clear, warm and sunny Tuesday afternoon for September and an easy ride along one of my favourite routes (NCR 22) in Surrey down to Farncombe. The ride along the Wey and Arun Canal path was heavenly!
September 22, 2021
- 02:067.03 mi3.3 mph1,050 ft1,025 ft
- David Murray
After visiting The Marble Arch Caves I thought I'd walk the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, one of the largest expanses of blanket bog in NI.The walk begins with a 4km stretch of gravel track through a striking limestone landscape which gradually changes into blanket bog as the flat-topped ridge of the Cuilcagh Mountain comes into view.The ascent of the Cuilcagh Mountain starts via a wooden boardwalk, built over the ancient bog for its protection, and then onto a steep staircase that meanders and weaves its way through a landscape of rugged boulders to the summit. There is a viewing platform at the top offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains, or so I have been told.Unfortunately I only walked as far as the final staircase before the weather conditions suddenly deteriorated and I was forced to turn back.When I started my ascent on the Boardwalk a westerly wind started up bringing horizontal light rain along with it. Before the final ascent at the foot of the staircase the whole mountain was under a cloud with driving rain/sleet on winds in excess of 40 mph making just standing on the Boardwalk quite a struggle. I was also fairly soaked through having set off without waterproof trousers. Since the platform is known to be fairly precarious on the summit and given the dangerous conditions I decided to come back another day.That's Ireland for you. Beautifully warm and sunny one minute, cold and stormy the next. You have to be prepared for all eventualities!
September 18, 2021