Thursday, February 5, 2009
Yesterday we took a lovely day trip to the city of Oxford, approximately 1 hour by coach (and accessible from the station at Marble Arch).
It was cold, and I had (obviously) dressed appropriately in sheer patterned tights. Hey, at least I remembered my gloves this time. Darrion didn't even have a coat! On our ride over, we were enlightened on the history of Oxford as well as the way the college is set up. I don't suppose anyone ever considered that there might not be just a nice little gated clump of buildings helpfully labled "Oxford College" which is why they felt the need to fill us in. Oxford is, as the metaphor they gave us goes, much like the US government. There is the "federal government" that is Oxford University that links its 38 colleges, but it doesn't have a building or anything of the sort -- it's just a Board of men and whatnot. Then we have the "state governments" which are all the separate colleges, which pretty much do their own thing. They each control their application process, etcetera etcetera. We were then regaled with horror stories of applying and interviewing and such, and were thoroughly impressed.
When we finally stumbled off the bus, our lively tour guide Deb spent a couple hours talking us around the town and through a college before dumping us to ramble 'round for an hour or three. Oxford is, like most of London that I've seen so far, a unique mixture of old, old buildings, Marks and Spencer, and Zara. We stopped in a college apparel store to buy emblemized tees and sweats, and then perused the city for The Eagle and Child, a pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis used to grab a bite and have a friendly argument. I ordered a piece of chocolate cake with ice cream, which everyone had to try (the verdict: orgasmic) and followed that with a turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sandwich (Thanksgiving between bread, anybody?). Delish.
Once we were stuffed and satisfied, our journey took us to the Christ Church - the Church, legend has it, was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. Also that some scenes from Harry Potter were filmed there, but that's not nearly as interesting. As God decreed, there was an entrance fee of 3 pound 50, so we mingled around the front taking pictures and then alighted to the shopping centres, which were free. The Christ Church is not a sanctuary for the poor.