Wednesday, May 4, 2016

catching up (part 1)

Well, it's been a month and a half since I last posted. In that time, life got crazy and travel blogging did not happen. So here I am. I've been home for two weeks and have enough material to write a small book about. 

Fear not. 

I am not going to impose a small book upon you. (Anyway I already wrote sixteen essays this semester and I don't need to do much more writing for awhile.)

Instead, here is a very, very broad record of some of my last four weeks in Oxford, supplemented by many photos. 

Four friends and I went to the Lake District for four glorious nights.

This is the view from our youth hostel - each of the four sunsets was stunning. 

I got to "cuddle" (the handler's word) an owl named Oscar.

What appeared to be a slightly muddy patch on the trail through this pasture turned out to be ankle deep mud. Literally. I had to rinse out my shoes in a nearby creek. 

This is Hill Top Farm - Beatrix Potter's vacation home and the destination of a lovely 11 mile trek that we made one day. Many of her illustrations are direct copies of the interior of her house and of the farmland surrounding it. 

I found out that the live action introductory scene to the BBC's animated series of her stories was filmed here. I absolutely love this scene and watched it many times as a child. I think that the videocassette we had was The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, but what I remember is this opening. According to the well-informed guide, Peter Rabbit disgraced himself during filming, which resulted in a stain on the table that is there to this day. 

This swan was actually bold enough to take a nip of my fish and chips. We were not amused. In her fear Anastasia hopped up on a nearby wall, and I don't think I've ever seen Katherine so bitter about anything. 

There was so much more to that break - the mist in the mornings, relaxing together over breakfast and dinner, hopping stone walls as we hiked cross-country, reading books aloud to each other as we waited for buses. It was one of the top five highlights of my entire semester. But. Moving on.

The entire program went on several group field trips. 

I loved St. Alban's cathedral. I had a profound sense that this is not simply a historical site that was incidentally a place of worship. Rather, it is a place of strong, living, Christian worship that is only incidentally a historical site. 

The ceiling at Winchester Cathedral.

This is the view from Porchester Castle - a Roman-fortress-turned-Norman-castle across from Portsmouth. It was here and not in Southampton that a plot against Henry V was uncovered, though Shakespeare used his artistic license to place the incident in Southampton.  

I went on a solo trip to London

Chinatown is not right across the street from Portobello Market. However, it is just behind the National Gallery of Art and right across the street from Queen's Theatre, where Les Miserables is performed. Somehow I managed to go to London five times growing up without ever realizing this fact. 

Skoob Books - an amazing basement bookstore in London. I came home from the entire trip with twenty-one books, most of them ones I found at used bookstores and couldn't resist. Some people have problems buying clothing or Apple products or music. My problem is books. By the time I found Skoob I had already bought probably sixteen books and knew I shouldn't buy any more. I went in anyway. And I bought books. 

I don't have pictures of this, but I went to the Maundy Thursday Eucharist in Westminster Abbey. It was amazing. I was seated in Poet's Corner, and as I returned to my seat after receiving communion I passed the memorial to C.S. Lewis. This was not a time to fangirl over Lewis, and I didn't. But I know so much about his faith that seeing his memorial suddenly impressed me with the great cloud of witnesses that surrounded me as I received the Lord's Supper in that place.

{to be continued...}


  1. oh, just great! I want a copy of the picture of you at Beatrix Potter's place, and of you on the warf.
    Record of wonderful experiences.