Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our First Three Days in England - Oxford

I'm a little bit behind, but, while I have a few minutes, and access to a computer, I am going to take advantage of both! I wrote this out longhand after our first night, that would be two days ago, and it has been such a wonderful whirlwind. In our first 24 hours in Oxford, we dined at the Eagle and Child Pub with Sam and Amy. I had the most delicious meat pie, on Sam's recommendation. The eagle and Child Pub is famous for its connection to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their extended group of literary friends, the Inklings. Sam has managed to eat in the room where they often met, but unfortunately, both times we visited, that room was occupied.
We were served traditional English breakfast at our guesthouse. We toured the city on a double-decker bus, lunched at ''the oldest coffee house in England'' (1600's), slept in a 900 year old house, which is as cozy as Grandma's house. Margaret, our landlady tells us that the basement is 1000 years old. We have toured Christ Church, where a lovely docent befriended us and showed me the cowslips in the garden. She told me that Shakespeare mentioned cowslips and the lawn in which these grow was over the original foundation of Christ Church, and as they are wildflowers, they have ''been here since the beginning of time''. Did you know that every window has lace curtains? Did you know that fully half of the bicycles have lovely wicker baskets? We have seen the Bodleian Library....the one that Sam was inducted into at the beginning of his term. He had to vow to never bring fire into it. I have been teased by a gentleman by the name of Miles, who wore a bowler hat, about my lack of knowledge about Lewis Carroll...aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He taught us that Mr. Dodgson had a speech impediment.... and the Dodo bird in his books symbolized himself, and his inability to pronounce his last name. At the Bodleian Library, we were able to view the archaeologist's handwritten notes made upon the discovery of King Tut's tomb. There was a wonderful display concerning John Milton (Paradise Lost). The display included a notice; make that a proclamation by the King that John Milton's books should be burned. The Library managed to save them by filing them under incorrect titles. We have traveled Banbury Road (remember the Nursery rhyme, Ride a Cockhorse to Banbury Cross). We have passed over Drury Lane, which is where the muffin man lives! We have learned that ''Silence Please'' is a comical catchphrase at the Bodleian Library, and that French High School Students dress entirely in black clothing. And... there are lots of them in Oxford. That was it for the first 24 hours! Wasn't it wonderful?! Yesterday, Tuesday, Sam was able to accompany us on our sojourn. Amy left late that morning to travel around Europe with her sister and friend. Monday, they had to finish up at the University with a day long symposium. We met with Sam at a coffeehouse after he saw Amy to her bus, and had tea, and then we made for the museums. At the first one...the Ashmolean, we saw artworks by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse. We had fish and chips that evening at The Turf Tavern, which looks exactly as I imagined the old pubs would. It has a sign in the garden noting that it is the pub where Bill Clinton, famously, 'did not inhale.' And dinner was delicious! We toured The Museum of the History of Science. There we saw, the first penicillin culture, Marconi's first wireless transmitter, Lewis Carroll's photography equipment, and a chalkboard that has Einstein's handwritten explanation of the theory of relativity, preserved on it! Other than that...we haven't seen much.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! That's all? You have documented this beautifully, please continue!