Archive | September, 2011

London Calling

26 Sep

(This post written in March, 2010 while Becca Holman came over from Ireland to visit England for a week)

Saturday morning we got up with the sun to complete what every trip to England must require — a visit to London.  We even managed to recruit friends Trista and Emma to make the short journey with us. We all rode up on the bus and took the tube together then Emma parted with us at Oxford Street to meet up with a friend. Trista, Becca and I ventured off towards the British Museum.  This was the first item on our ever-growing London to-do list and Trista, a history major, made it it one of her top priorities as well.  Trista’s knowledge newly-appointed post as tour guide made it quite an enlightening field trip.  To see the whole museum probably would have taken a couple days, but we at least hit the high points, including my absolute favorite — MUMMIES!!  And if the large crowds in these particular exhibits serve as any indication, then I’m obviously not alone in my strange affinity for elaborately decorated dead things.  It’s a comfort to know these ancient corpses (or is it corpsi?)  provide perpetual fascination for people around the world, and it’s not just me being strange. Picture above: Trista and me trying to decipher the map of the very LARGE British Museum…it was a little confusing.

After passing several lovely hours in the inspiring presence of all that is dead, crumbling, and historically significant, we decided to take a a moment to air out our brains from all its Classic cobwebs and rejoin the modern world. Next stop was Parliament Square, where we –quite accidentally– stumbled into another epic and educational tour of none other than the Houses of Parliament themselves.  It went something like this: friendly tour guide meets confused American tourists and cheerfully hands them a flyer. “Last tour of the day!” she calls. “Only ten minutes to go and we offer students discounts!”  And, even minus her glowing smile and she had captured us with the magic word, “discount.”  We were officially the last three people to receive tickets that day so we bounded off with the rest of the tour group with such a stroke of luck that way that made me feel a little bit like Charlie entering the Chocolate Factory…that is, if the Willie Wonka had employed policemen with guns and metal detectors to stand guard over his chocolate factory. Anyway, two hours of touring stately rooms and learning about English government was fascinating and exhausting; (I was a little disappointed by the lack of chocolate rivers and singing oompa loompas but whatever).

We celebrated the completion of our educational journey with a perfectly English dinner at Prince Albert’s Pub near the rail station.  The only things I remember about this pub are that the food was very tasty and very English…and that I felt under-dressed while surrounded by the sophisticated Londoners dining there…and that our waiter was rather cute.  But those are just general impressions that do not quality me to give a detailed restaurant review; I can’t even remember what I ordered except that it was “good” and that I was so hungry I scarfed it down pretty quickly.

Falling Back into the Swing of Things

25 Sep

Back in Oxford again!

After enjoying several weeks of prolonged summer while my friends at CSU are busy gearing up for midterms, I finally feel that my fall has started for good.  Now that I’m back in Oxford, summer is officially over and it’s time for the real work to begin.  Time to slough off the little extra laziness I acquired over the summer and cultivate a brand new shiney attitude for the term — a task that’s easier said than done when you’ve spent three hours standing in line at the border and received little to no sleep at all in the last a 24-hour period.

By the way, international travel is a beast.  It chews you up, swishes you around and then spits you back up on the other side of the world.   And then, TA-DAH! You’re  in England!  But you’re dirty and smelly and aggravated and waxing claustrophobic, so you don’t have time to celebrate. Instead, all you can think about is slipping into one of England’s antiquated bathtubs or sipping on one of its quintessential “cuppas” — anything that’s warm, soothing and does not resemble an airport terminal.  Once you finally get the respite from travel you’ve been waiting on for so long and think Aaaah, thank you, Britain.   I knew you wouldn’t let an old chum down.  

As I rode into town on the bus and now sit here with my steaming cuppa tea (mmm, warm, soothing, and not resembling an airport terminal…) I couldn’t help but being overcome with the overwhelming sense of  comfort I often associate with home.  I sighed and said to myself “Here at last…home sweet home.”  Would it be too presumptuous to call this magnificent city “home” even though I’ve only lived here for six months before?  I’m not sure, but I can’t deny that there is at least, if nothing else, a certain sense of hominess about this city and about this house that makes it home to me in its own way.

The Spencer House is familiar and comfortable.  A lot of these mirrors have seen my face before.  I remember which stairs creak and how the dishes are arranged inside the cupboards.  This house has a distinctive smell and an all around distinctive character that warrants at least a mild sentimentality that’s often born out of familiarity.

The city has a personality too.  All the old spires, the cobblestone streets and corner shops give it an Old World charm  — an undeniable part of its alluring mystique.  Honestly, I could carry on about Oxford’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere for pages, but it’s getting late and jet lag is striking with a vengeance.

So for now, goodnight.  I made it back “home” again and can’t wait to start another adventure again tomorrow.