Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Queens, Princesses and Scholars

More of the London sights with Michelle and Nat yesterday, in London. We headed into town early - for a Bank Holiday Monday, anyway! - for the changing of the guards in front of Buckingham Palace. We got our viewing spot at the entrance to one of the gates - but still didn't see everything. I don't know if there is a good spot to see what's going on in each part of the change. We certainly saw one band march in, then another, and then another. After some time in the sun, we then saw each band march out again! Is that it??!! I think I had expected more!! (more photos)

We took Michelle on a bit of a walking tour from there, and had lunch in a gorgeous pub near Trafalgar Square, and then headed to Hyde Park. Seemingly much bigger that Central Park in NYC (to me at least), the lawns were covered with Brits clamouring for the sun's rays.

Walking through the Park, we saw the disappointing Peter Pan statue, and the out-of-action Diana Memorial Fountain (dangerous concrete slippery dip, apparently!), before reaching Kensington Palace. We peeked in at the beautiful English Garden, the Orangery, and the entrance to the State Apartments.

Our day in the sun ended by joining Nat's friends Kimberley and John and Caitlin and Jack for a picnic at Clapham Common.

With poor Nat off to work today, Michelle and I headed off to Oxford for the day today - which was brilliant! After the one and a half hour train ride from Nat's, we wandered into town to discover all that was there to discover.

Stumbling across the Oxford Story exhibit, we hopped on the travelling desk for a little lesson in the town's history, and famous people. Oxford is the founding place of such amazing things as Louis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the discovery of penicillin, Halley's discovery of his comet, among so many other things.

We then took in the tour of the beautiful building that is the Bodleian Library. Among the history and achitecture here, we also discovered that this is the site of Hogwart's Hospital and one of the classrooms in the Harry Potter films.

We then wandered around to have lunch at the Eagle and Child - the pub where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein used to meet over several beers to discuss ideas and debate philosophy. A pint for us in the very room Middle Earth and Narnia was born! The 'bird and baby', as donned by our literary genuises.

The village town of Oxford is filled with colleges, which are housed in the old and beautiful buildings. Mnay of the colleges, such as New College and Magdelan College. One of the enchanting features of the architecture of these buildings is the cheeky gargoyles all around the walls of the buildings. Look at these guys! They are hilarious!!

Gargoyles along the wall of New College
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Before heading off back to London, we had a pint at the Turf Tavern. Place of our very own Bob Hawkes' Guiness Book of World Records (1963) skull of a yard glass of ale. No matter his politics, the young lad could drink! I took longer than Bob's 11 seconds to finish my pint.


  1. Oxford sounds fantastic - one of the places I never got to. Amazing to think you were drinking where CS Lewis and Tolkien used to pass the time of day! That really brings history (and literature) up close and personal - did you release any appropriate books there?

  2. Ahhh, no. No luck with getting Michelle to release, and I didn't have any finished non-bookray books for release! Next time!!

    Quite amazing drinking at that pub, the pub where it was all created. Maybe just by drinking there, we all have a magical tale to weave!


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