Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Loving Oxford.

I'm totally loving Oxford.
One can feel so intellectual here.  Looks what's just down the road from our place---

... I can see myself discussing Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology over a beer or two!  Can't you?

One can also feel that one needs to learn to enunciate better while in Oxford.  British folk in Oxford, because there are a number of other nationalities who roam the University streets here, speak very clear English.  You almost want to say 'Tally Ho by Jove!' whilst holding a plum.  I tried speaking clearly for a few minutes - it's actually hard work! 

Lovely Lady and I met a group of students, young men and women, for pizza the other night.  One studies history - she's focusing this term on Amercian Revolutions, one studies Math - she has more of an interest on applied math than pure math and a goal to teach after university, one studies Politics and History though he is thinking of changing next term to theology, one is studying BioChemistry and is hoping to go into research as that's his main area of interest and yet another is doing a math thesis - with more of a focus on pure math and some unexplainable structure that has something to do with algebra. 

Lovely Lady was trying to understand the English.  Her class has not yet covered vocabulary for the topics under discussion.

What do I like most about this get together?  It is so refreshing being amongst young people who are allowed to, have been encouraged to and obviously do, think!  Thinking is not encouraged in the Saudi eudcational system.  The conservatives are afraid of thought.  They prefer rote memory learning, that way they have more control over what thoughts the masses may have. 

What else do I love about Oxford?

The theatre - We've seen Lord of the Dance and took a train to London to watch Wicked. 
The musical recitals - we've seen The Oxford Concert Party in the Hollywell Room and The Oxford Orchestra in the Shelidonian Theatre.


We've had a squizz through the Ashmoean Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum and a tour through the History of Science Museum.

We've taken a stroll through the grounds of a number of colleges - Trinity, Worcestor, Christ Church, Magdalen and Merton.  

The lake at Worcestor College
We've caught the train to Brighton and spent an afternoon on the pier.
We caught the train to Bath and did a little sight seeing once we realised they are Historical Baths, you can't actually swim in them, though one of us did go for a little dip after dropping a camera in the drink and waded in to retrieve it.

The Baths in Bath
We've joined a walking group and spend our Sunday's walking through English countryside then reward ourselves for our efforts with lunch in a local pub.

I've caught the bus or cycled to numerous little villages in and around Oxford:
- Woodstock - for Blenheim Castle
- Kidlington - just to go see.
- Minister Lovell - a possible link to the whanau
- Biscester - discount outlet shopping
- Cumnor - I got lost!!

There are numerous old buildings in Oxford and though mostly I think they are amazing for their longevity and, if they are made of rock (which most of the colleges are), their sense of solid stability, they are frikken cold!  The churches in particular are freezing.  I attended ANZAC Day in one of the churches and am glad I had my scarf and gloves.  The service was organised by the Antipodeans (a.k.a New Zealanders and Aussies) in Oxford.  I wish I'd taken a video because it could only be described as a real Oxford ANZAC in an ancient church with stained glass windows reflecting light onto tall columns and complete with church choir singing songs I've never heard of.

Pubs have aged differently.  One I walked into smelt like the old homestead my father was brought up in.  The roof was low, the floors creaked and there was a damp, dankness in the air but it still served beer that had to be carried through low doorways past numerous rooms filled with patrons till we found an empty seat in a dark space down the back.

Adjectives to describe many of the coffee shops escape me.  I remember thinking I have no idea why Poms have a reputation for whining when they are so happy to put up with creaky buildings with floors so uneven that, at one in particuilar, my pencil kept rolling off the coffee table.  They call these buildings 'cute' and 'quaint' and 'old world'.  I think they're going to fall down!

An old pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis are reputed to have drunk.

Queuing is an unusual mindset in Oxford and I was given a steely stare when I walked up to a bus stop and sat next to a woman who was, apparently, the start of the queue.  Removing myself to the end of the line I had to smile to myself when the bus didn't actually stop next to the beginning of the queue but pulled up and opened its door right next to the person at the back.  One would think you'd simply accept queue status has changed (that's what we antipodeans do) and the back is now the front.  But not in Oxford. 

The person who has been waiting first in line all this time (about 5 minutes because buses are fairly regular) must be first on the bus or lots of eyeball, and occasional vocal, abuse is psychicly daggered toward the person who is standing right next to the open bus door with her foot on the step.  This day she decides, with her own steely determination and a hint of arrogance learned from living in Saudi Arabia (because goodness knows this woman doesn't usually have an attitude issue at all) that unfriendliness is, well, unfriendly, so ignores them and boards the bus.

All in all though, I'm loving Oxford.

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