November 15, 2011

Oxford and Other Things



First off, I'm going to apologize for all the upcoming building pictures. I'd heard Oxford was beautiful, but the architecture here was just incredible!! I figure if you're reading this blog, you're probably a little bit like me, and if you're a little bit like me, you'll like the pics a little bit anyways.



I must've arrived in Oxford on the coldest day I've yet experienced here in England. I'm sure it was only in the 40s or so, but I was convinced I'd time-traveled into January. Above are views from the double-decker Megabus (yes, it was red) that I just barely caught. I was careful to leave ample time for getting to the bus stop, but somehow I still managed to use it all up in sorting out 3 different directions from 3 different people, my own poorly drawn map, and my ever-failing sense of direction. The place was all of 2 blocks from where the tube let me off, so I thought I couldn't miss. Directions and me are just a rubbish match.

Anyway, I did manage to get on, and even scored a seat on the second level, right up in the front. That meant I got the best view coming into town.

And boy what a town!!



 There were bikes all over in Oxford, but this was definitely the saddest of them all.



In all honesty there isn't a lot to actually do in Oxford, unless you're an Oxford student, that is. Much of the school is closed to the public, understandably, and the place itself is so tiny it's pretty easy to absorb most of it in about 4 hours. I was there for 6, and a great deal of my adventure was spent museum-hopping to keep warm. I spent far more time in the Maths and Sciences Museum than I probably would have under normal circumstances, but now I know all sorts of new things! There was an original solution drawn in chalk by Albert Einstein -- some student saved the blackboard after one of his guest lectures! I also found out that doctors used to determine where to avoid letting blood by which sign the moon was in. About this time our chests are in danger. So weird, but so cool!

One of my favorite exhibits was just beyond this building:



 

It was called "treasures" and displayed various artifacts that have come into library's possession over the course of history, much like what I described from the British National Library. Among this collection, however, was the very first Folio copy of Shakespeare's printed works, an original watercolor of Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkien, an original edition of William Blake's Songs of Innocence open to the "Nurse's Song" poem and colored engraving, a draft chapter from Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman (his handwriting is so interesting!), another Jane Austen journal that I would much liked to have seen more than two pages of, and a first draft of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (from the chapter where the monster wakes up, of course) WITH HER HUSBAND'S CORRECTIONS IN THE MARGINS. Good old Percy and Mary... prolly the most morbidly-sweet, weird couple ever. (If you don't know about them and are looking for a good story check it out, under Percy Bysshe Shelley. Great stuff.

Back to buildings! Before I had to find refuge for my frozen limbs in the museums, I spent a great deal of time wandering up and down the streets, peering down every alleyway that was accessible to me -- and some that weren't! Here's what I found:



Miss Kowalski, are you in here??

This is a library. A LIBRARY!




New friend.
On the other side of this gate (and facing the opposite direction) is where the film "An Education" ends. See here, about 5:25 in.
Also, weird thing -- I heard the opening song in this clip in the tube station right before I left. A man with an accordion was playing it.
Also also -- you should watch the subsequent scene, because it's great. 
Oh, Graham.


On the opposite side of this courtyard, in the corner you can't see, there was a little doorway. And through that doorway was a staircase which I wasn't allowed to ascend. And beyond the staircase on the opposite side was another little doorway. And beyond that little doorway was another library. And right in front of that library was...


A GRAVEYARD!!!


Seriously, if there's anything more Romantic (not to be confused with romantic) than sneaking around Perc-Shel's old stomping grounds on a sublimely freezing foggy fall day and stumbling one's way into a graveyard, I'd like to hear it.


Hold the phone -- February 31st??


This was particularly creepy. I looked through the bars of this doorway and the wooden stairs just went down and down and down...



Seriously, the crypt?! I couldn't even handle this place. My camera was going bananas.


Almost thought this said "Harry." POTTERGASMOMGARSH!


Even the steps leading out of this place were graves!

I don't know what it is about me, but I love graveyards. Guess that's what comes of spending your time in grade school making up stories about moving statues and plotting ways to get past the chain-link fence into the adjacent cemetery. Careful, kids.



Ah, goodness! What a delightful journey! I do wish it hadn't been so cold, but I spent the last hour and half or so catching up on some reading for school at Starbucks and gradually began to feel my fingers again.

I'm not sure why it took leaving Seattle to suddenly become a Starbucks devotee (especially when everyone in London says it's even worse here than in the states). It's a comforting reminder of home and Christmas, I suppose.

 
Some other updates:

-The Producers has been carrying on good and strong. I've got a bit of a tap repertoire now (wooooh, Shirley-shorts!) and am mastering the art of pigeondom...


and grannydom....


and Nazidom, but I won't put that up lest someone gets the wrong message.

-My journal has taken a serious backseat. Unfortunately that's partially on account of this blog, but also because all I ever do any more is read and write and research! (And go on Facebook...)


My last essay was on Asta Neilsen's Hamlet -- an examination of the feminist reclaiming of the incompetent Romantic Hamlet which required translating German subtitles into English and comparing them alongside Folio and Quarto texts. What an exciting mind-meld!!

State of my desk during Reading Week.

-I promised I'd let you know when I was done with this! It's finally covered completely.


-Even on a simple walk to school, I'm continually finding new things around corners. On my journey to Golder's Green I ran into this little gem:


And of course whenever I get a spare moment, or need to find a place to take my Pret, I visit the Ghand-meister in Tavistock Square. (Mom, I took lots of close-ups for your yoga cards!!)



-Last but definitely not least, my journey northward to make mincemeat pies and watch Little Women was a wonderful break from the books. These two ladies are just lovely for humoring me my "surrogate Thanksgiving."

"Isn't butter divinity?" -Amy March




Well, that's all for now, folks! Hope you're enjoying your November. I can't believe there's only a month left to my stay. While I'd gladly tack on more time for essay-completion, it's going to be so exciting to come home to hot chocolate and Spokane snow and everyone I SORELY miss after such a time.

It will be awfully bittersweet leaving London, though. If ever a city could be your best friend, this would be mine.

Love,
RB

No comments:

Post a Comment