June 27th, 2012
Today, we headed off to the Kilns, which is where C.S. Lewis lived from 1930 til his death in 1963. We were lead around the house by the Scholar in Residence, Johnathan, who actually lives at The Kilns. We also met the cat Warley, named after C.S. Lewis’s brother who lived at The Kilns with him. The cat took a liking to anyone who would pet him.
While touring the house, we learned that none of the furniture in the house was original, but was reconstructed through photographs taken throughout C.S. Lewis’ time at The Kilns. We also learned that, much like the Pevensie children in The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe were taken in by Professor Kirke during World War II, C.S. Lewis took in children during the London bombings in WWII. Though the woman he lived with, Jane Moore, the mother of a friend and fellow soldier, only allowed girls to live with them and she interviewed them personally before allowing them to stay.
The house is small and the stairs narrow, but it was really interesting to see where C.S. Lewis lived for over half of his life.
After we visited The Kilns, we walked up the street to C.S. Lewis’s church to see where he’s buried. The church also has a “Narnia window” that was installed in 1991. It depicts well-known characters and objects, like the Dawn Treader, from the books.
For lunch, we stopped at the Six Bells pub. It was a little crowded since there are 45 of us, including the group from Regent. We also had to go up to the bar to order food, instead of having some one come to our table and take our orders. We had fun though, and timed lunch perfectly because as soon as we were seated, it started pouring outside.
We had a lecture back at the church following lunch, then headed back to Oxford’s city center, where we split off for dinner and a bit of shopping.
For dinner, Leslie, Dr. Haller, Brandon, Mr. Nichols, Ryan, Laura, Jessica and I ate at the Turf Tavern, which was hidden in between some buildings. We had to go down a narrow alley way and I wasn’t sure if I was about to be in Oliver! or Sweeney Todd. We all made it to the restaurant in one piece and had a great time, chatting for nearly 3 hours. Though, I am a bit sick of pub food.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Magdalen College, where Lewis taught.
June 24th, 2012
Today started with a Full English breakfast, which was quite good. The stereotype of the British not drinking coffee is totally false, though. We had coffee with breakfast and it was good (not the watery, shameful excuse for coffee I had on the flight over). During breakfast, we discovered that more of our lost travelers had made it in late last night.
After breakfast, we headed off to Church. While we were waiting in the lobby to leave, we had a laugh with Leslie’s family over some of our group telling one of the girls to put pants on. Because over here, pants are underpants and “pants” to us are called trousers.
Leslie and I were expecting “high church” but what we got was very modern. I liked how they’d blended the modern with the old architecture of the building. I wish I’d gotten to take pictures but we got to the church a few minutes late. However, the service itself was a bit weird. We sang for at least 45 minutes, then took communion (which was actual wine) then sang some more and then, finally, we had the sermon. I didn’t really like the message and I didn’t quite know why the guy felt the need to mention that Paul wasn’t gender-biased. He kept emphasizing that fact and it didn’t make sense within the sermon.
We left as soon as the sermon was over because we had reservations at The Mitre Pub. The food was good and I had a pint of cider.
After lunch, we’d planned to go to Christ Church, where parts of the Harry Potter films had been shot, but it was closed for a concert. Leslie, her family, and I decided to go shopping for a bit, instead of punting. We headed off to the shops and got some neat things. I bought coasters that look like records and a dress (and now I can check the clothing mission off my list).
After shopping, we headed back over to the hotel. We waited around for a bit, because Leslie’s cousin Chloe had to go back to Uni for exams tomorrow. Once they got back, we went to a pub for dinner. But, the pub we went to wasn’t serving dinner because it’s Sunday. We finished our drinks then headed off to another pub to finish watching the football match and get some food.
As of tonight, I have officially watched a football match, cheered for England, and had proper fish and chips in a pub.
We had quite a busy day and tomorrow will be even busier. We’re planning on heading over to Blenheim Palace in the morning, then joining the group on their tour in the afternoon.
June 23rd, 2012
The trip started off quite well. Leslie and I left VA around 7am for Atlanta and things went off without a hitch. We thought we might have to be switched to a later flight because they’d overbooked the one we were on, and we had plenty of time to spare before our flight from GA to GB, but everyone was able to fit on the plane and things went as planned.
We got to Atlanta and strolled around the international terminal, looked at the shops, read a bit (Leslie knitted) and grabbed some food (and got extra food for free because we were nice and patient when they forgot I’d ordered a bagel with my coffee). While we dreaded the 9-hour layover, our strange flight pattern ended up being the best thing that could have happened to us.
We boarded our flight to London a few minutes early, watched a few movies, I didn’t really sleep on the flight, but I tried. The turbulence was kind of bad, but later we found why and things made more sense. We made it to London half an hour ahead of schedule. There were no problems with customs and we made our way to baggage claim.
Once we had our bags, the real adventure started.
Leslie and I had a bus pass for 6 of our group to get to Oxford, however, after looking at the arrival schedule, we noticed that the flight with the rest of our group was delayed by 2 hours, meaning that they would miss the bus to Oxford. We figured out how to access the Wi-Fi at the airport and decided to see if we’d gotten updated while we were in flight.
And that’s when we found out that the people we were supposed to be meeting at 10:15 weren’t getting to the UK until tomorrow! Flights had been cancelled, over booked and delayed, causing everyone we were supposed to meet to miss other flights and still be stuck in the US. We weren’t sure about the group that was supposed to have gotten on the bus at 8:10, so we decided it was best to head to the bus terminal and see if we spotted any of our group.
We trudged over there and found Bethany, who’d been having travel problems too and was very glad to see a familiar face. The three of us hopped on the bus to Oxford earlier than planned, but we’d since found out that the earlier group was coming later and had a taxi all ready for them.
The bus ride to Oxford took a little over an hour and then we hopped in a taxi to take us to our hotel. Dr. Lindvall was waiting in the drive for us.
He was glad to see us and said we were the first to arrive. We told him that we knew because everyone else had been stranded in the states due to electrical storms and bad weather. He didn’t have access to internet, so he had no clue what was going on.
We filled him in, got lunch and took a quick walk to wake up and when we got back more of our group had arrived, but we were still missing half. We finally got showers around 2pm UK time and I took a much needed nap before high tea at 4. Leslie and I waited for her cousins to show up and rode to the hotel where we had high tea with them, instead of walking with the rest of the group.
As of right now, we’re still missing half the group, a few are coming in late tonight, most are coming in tomorrow mid-day, and two won’t make it til at least Monday. There’s one more in our group, but we have no idea where he is or when he’ll make it to Oxford, but he’ll turn up eventually.
Never a dull moment when travelling abroad.