Today has been a rough day. I’ve been so busy pouring my time and energy into my first year of teaching, where everything has to be created new and I’m only a few days or weeks ahead of the students at any given time, in addition to trying to juggle BTSA work, MA.Ed duties, and the rest of life.
And today I was informed that I have to pack up my entire classroom–including the many, MANY files of papers that belong to a teacher on a year-long leave of absence whose room I’m technically using now–before break, which movers will take care of the week of Christmas. Then, during the week of New Year’s, I need to unpack and recreate my whole classroom.
So much for Christmas break. :'(
I already gave up most of Thanksgiving break just to catch up (“catch up”) on grading, and had been dangling the carrot of a real Christmas break before my nose. Alas.
ALL THAT TO SAY that I have been depressed, and would like to feel better. The weather is finally cooling down here in southern California; I took the dog for a walk after school and got to wear my jeans, boots, and scarf, like a normal day back in Oxford.
Which got me thinking about Oxford. :)
So: how about I do a few blog posts about a “perfect day” in various places I love? First up, of course, will be the city of the dreaming spires!
If I had a day to spend in Oxford–which I hope to get eventually, to take Jeff through some of my favorite old haunts–I’d start off with a proper English breakfast. Katie and I actually only ever did this in our Oxford and London hostels, so I don’t have a fancy restaurant recommendation! I’m sure many a place would provide the necessities, though: toast, beans, eggs, tomato, sausage, and a cup of black tea (Earl Grey is my preference) with milk.
Now, stuffed and full of energy, we could begin our walk! Oxford is built for walking, and there’s a lot to see. I’d say first we’d head down south, all the way to Magdalen College, to see if we could get in for the day (usually all the colleges are limited to students, but sometimes tourists get lucky) and walk part of the famous path where Lewis and Tolkien had their Lewis-conversion-conversation. It’s a beautiful college anyway, and as we came back up, we could stop by the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library to admire them, too–but tourists definitely can’t weasel their way inside those. A few pounds would buy us the rights to climb the Tower of St. Mary the Virgin for a gorgeous bird’s eye view of Oxford.
That would take us right by the Bridge of Sighs, too:
Then it would be off to New College, my study-abroad alma mater, to see if we could get in to appreciate the cloisters and gardens there. By then, Blackwell’s should be open, so we could make our way toward the center of the city to revel in the enormous amounts of books for sale (including the largest room of books in any bookstore in the world. I’ll have to look up the actual size though; I just know it’s record-breaking)! There are a few tourist-y shops in that vicinity that we could pop into as well, and then we could have a quick lunch on Cornmarket Street. My favorite option were the pasties, specifically the pork and apples one. Yum!
Did you know I lived in Oxford for two whole months before I figured out there was a castle in it?? I kept taking shortcuts that meant I never passed it. I would definitely walk Jeff past the Oxford Castle after lunch, and perhaps take a quick tour of it if he was so inclined. Then we’d weave our way through the city to pop into the free Ashmolean Museum for a bit before visiting my old flat, 47 Walton Crescent. That’s a good chance to shake our heads at Oxford University Press behind it (the source of soooo muuuuch college reeeeaaading, haha. Aaaaaah).
Then I would waste no time in getting up to Port Meadow to check on my horseyfriends! The scenery is beautiful no matter the weather, and there are no “open hours” to worry about. We could walk off the many calories of the day in a little loop through the meadow, depending on the state of the rain-lake, of course, and sit on the dock to watch the swans and ducks while the sun sets (short northern hemisphere days).
Then we’d hike back to St. Giles–yes, we’ve done some zig-zagging throughout the day, but not too bad and Oxford proper is a fairly small city–to eat dinner at the Bird and Baby pub! Okay, it’s more properly known as The Eagle and Child, but I like the nickname. They have lots of things on the walls from Middle Earth and Narnia to honor all the time the Inklings spent there. A stout pint and a plate of fish and chips with mushy peas would be a perfect meal to end the day.
Eating there means skipping some other favorites, so another tourist day might be necessary. I’m thinking specifically of Peppers, the burger place by Port Meadow; Jamie’s Italian, a marvelous Italian food restaurant with a menu by Jamie Oliver; and the St. Giles kebab van that rolls up from about 9:00pm to 2:00am.
Anyway, if we still had any energy left, we could catch a movie at the Odeon Theater, and if it was December, we could look at the giant Christmas Tree near Broad Street. And eventually, we should sleep… but there’s always karaoke at The Holly Bush pub if we aren’t ready for rest. :)
How does that sound?? Let’s go! I’d rather be flying to Oxford than trying to set up a classroom all over again!