I’ve skipped over the pond to the UK for Christmas, to spend some time with my brother at Oxford. It didn’t start well. I got a hideous head-cold a day before I flew out, and as we started our descent into London, I got shooting pains in my ears, head and nose. It was impossible to ‘pop’ my ears, as I might usually do, and as the pressure built up, it seemed my hearing was actually going… that my head was surrounded by some sort of bubble… that my EAR DRUMS WERE GOING TO EXPLODE.
Yes, I approached the whole situation in typical Jenny style.
Anyway, I got off at Heathrow, headed to Victoria, making excellent time, even if I do say so myself, jumped on the 2:20pm bus to Oxford and sat back to enjoy the 1 hour 40 minute trip. I headed up to the front seat on the second floor, so that I could ‘watch the scenery go past’. Which would have been lovely, if the bus had actually moved. Unfortunately, I hadn’t considered that travelling on Friday the 23rd of December, that is to say, travelling on the afternoon of Friday the 23rd of December, was not the most sensible of moves. We got on to a road around Notting Hill Gate, and even though I could see the end of it, it took as an hour to move down it and get on to the roundabout. I eventually got into Oxford around 6pm. I spent most of my time drawing pictures on the condensation that had formed on the bus window. The homeboys next to me started doing the same thing, which was quite amusing. I drew Santa, they drew Santa. Then, they drew Santa with an earring. And a bong. Amusing.
Anyway, after dumping my bags at Chris’ college, we headed out again to the Cherwell Boat House, which was a very fancy Oxford restaurant where we had decided to have our very fancy Christmas dinner. It was delightful. And very fancy.
Christmas Eve, Chris took me around to some of the prettiest spots of Oxford, including parts of his own college, Worcester. There were many stories of Oxford old and new – ‘That’s where Tolkein and Lewis used to drink together and have their book club’, ‘That’s the college Lewis Carroll went, and where Alice lived,’ ‘That college has a deer park.’ There were also many Emma Watson stories, which I won’t relate, on the off chance that someone finds this blog and I get in trouble (for more information, see: http://sydney.concreteplayground.com.au/news/41784/blogger-fined-$25-million-for-not-being-a-journali.htm ). But, yes, for those who don’t know, my brother is currently at the same college as Emma Watson. That’s right, Hermione freakin’ Granger.
In the afternoon, Chris’ friend took us out on the Isis (actually the Thames, but ‘for some reason’, when it runs through Oxford, its called the Isis. ‘For some reason’ seems to be the appropriate reply to anything in Oxford that doesn’t make sense. The other is, ‘it made sense 900 years ago’). But, instead of the traditional punts, we were going kayaking, as Chris’ friend is a kayaker. I have very fond memories of kayaking at school camp, and I also have memories of me being reasonably good at it. Turns out that the last part was not true. Or, an embellishment. I spent most of the afternoon spinning in circles, whilst desperately trying to go forwards. Chris’ friend was exceedingly patient, and not only offered much advice and various different ideas to stop the spinning, when it became obvious I wasn’t going to be able to go forwards no matter what I tried, he very kindly blamed the boat. Which, I mean, of course, must have been true.
Being on the water was quite lovely though, despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing shoes, so was close to losing my toes to frostbite, as well as a couple of hairy moments when I came close to capsizing. We were paddling near a great big, wide flat plain, which often floods, and last year froze over, meaning it was possible to ice-skate over it. As its been quite warm in Oxford (6 degrees plus), there was no ice, unfortunately, but there was a group of ponies (I want to call them moor ponies, but I don’t know that that would be strictly accurate), galloping around the grass and making a terrific racket, which was rather exciting, as well as Banjo Patterson-esque.
There’s lots more to write, but I just can’t be bothered right now. Chris and I are about to go into London to see theatre. I’ll write more tomorrow.