At Bookbinders in Jericho, UK
The time in Oxford
has been so relaxing and wonderful. The weather has been amazingly pleasant and the laundry is cheap and the internet is free. I am staying in a dorm at the Worcester college campus, and I even get free breakfast and dinner. Sunday, was the last day that I had an official duty. We had our wrap up meeting and then we went to lunch. After that it was a quiet day. Monday, was a day with no plans. I had to pick up our bus tickets for Bath
, and after I did that, Ann and I stayed on campus and did absolutely nothing else. We had bought food at Marks and Spencer, so we had a picnic on campus.
Our first sheep gate at Christchurch, Ann got confused
That evening, we went to a pub with Jason in Jericho, called the Bookbinders and there was an Irish music gathering, it was very nice.
Tuesday, Ann and I explored Oxford. We went to Christchurch College and did the tour and had our first experience with a sheep gate. We found the oldest building in Oxford, from the early 1200s, we went punting (actually someone else punted us, we just drank the cheap champagne), did some shopping, found Radcliffe Camera, and went to the Carfax Tower. We had another Marks and Spencer picnic, this time with a homeless man who kept kicking into the air and asking if we were Swedish. We had dinner on campus, the food here is really good, so we made sure that we made every dinner we could. After dinner, we met Jason at the Turf Tavern where he had taken some of the professors.
Our plan was to go to a pub called the Trout. It was the finest adventure of the trip. The Trout is located outside of Oxford, on the otherside of the Common Meadow. We walked along a canal, over a few bridges to the meadow. Then through a cow shit covered pathway through a number of sheep gates. We got to another canal and then to the Thames River. We walked along another pathway, until we got to a fork. A man walking his dog at the fork told us to head into the woods and then take the path to the left and we would come to the Trout. We did, picking up a German student looking for his girlfriend there along the way. We got to the thatch roofed pub, but it ended up being the Perch, so we marched on. Along the way, a small dog named Monty jumped me, rabbits and ravens crossed out path, and the sun began to set.
Cows on the journey to the Trout, I guess I have something to declare at customs now
We came to lock in the river and then a ruined nunnery and more cows. A couple there, told us the Trout was just up the bend and across the bridge. Then we heard the peacocks and knew we were close. We finally got to the Trout after about an hour and a half of walking, it seemed very British.
Ann has never been around peacocks. Jason and I shared stories of our fears of them, and when she came out of the bathroom, she was cornered by one. It then somehow made it to the roof and was directly overhead for the rest of our pub time. The Trout was fantastic. Right on the river, next to a dam with a waterfall. It was a beautiful night. When we left we decided to try to get public transportation back to Oxford. We were told by the bartender that a bus stopped 6 to 8 to 10 minutes away across from the Chinese take-away on the half hour, we had ten minutes to make it.
We walked fast, but as we rounded the bend, we saw the bus leaving, so it was time for another drink at another pub. We made the next bus back into town. A wonderful night of English pubs.
Today was Ann and my trip to Bath to see the Roman baths and the Georgian architecture. It is 60 miles from here and that is a 2 hour bus trip with all the stops and the back roads. We went through the most terrifying traffic circle in the world. There are traffic circles (roundabouts) everywhere here. I would fear them as a driver. The one we went through today on a bus, was where five roads came together and formed a pentagon, and at the corner of the pentagon were 5 seperate traffic circles, we literally zigzagged through this giant intersection, it was proof that I would never understand how to drive here.
At the Roman baths
We had five hours in Bath. We went to lunch first at an Indian restaurant called the Eastern Eye, one of the top 30 in the UK, and we were the only ones there. The food was great and very spicy, the first really spicy food of the trip, and with the cold I am getting, made for a very sniffly experience. We then went to the baths, which was intersting. We walked all over town to see the old Georgian crescent architecture, and then to the River Avon to head back to the train station to make our 4:50 bus, we were there a little early, so we bought some rhubarb candy and used the most disgusting bathroom in the world, Ann brought me a piece of the waxy toilet paper. Traffic was heavy and we were involved in a minor accident, our driver Colin hauled ass the rest of the way home, back through the pentagon roundabout from hell and got us back to Oxford only a few minutes late.
We finished up our Marks and Spencer picnic foods, gazpacho, strawberries with double cream, cheddar crackers, and these cookies that have become my favorite -- caramel and chocolate McVitie's biscuits. We did some laundry, downloaded pictures, and a few of the students stopped by to say goodbye. It will be hard to leave here, I love it here. Tomorrow is London though, and that will be a lot of fun.