Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A visitor in the Ox.

Let's break this one down by the stats:
7 (almost 8) museums
5 episodes of Arrested Development
3 dedicated Wii sessions
3 Oxford colleges
2 train rides
2 country churches
1 world capital
1 radio show
Literally 1000s of trochees

As you can see, it was a productive time, especially if you love museums and old stuff.  And if you're a fan of this blog (all six of you), I think you do.

N came to visit me, landing on Thursday morning.  In order to prevent jetlag, we dropped off his suitcase and set off on a long walk around the town, eventually taking in the Museum of the History of Science, Exeter College, and then going to see the College's off-site housing.  From there we headed back to town, cooked some curry, and then went to the radio station to rock out on Radio Clash.  We played a jetlagged set and then walked back to the flat -- N made a valiant effort and stayed awake until 11pm!

On Friday we saw the ComLab and then I had to head off to do some work.  After, we had a fairly quiet evening, with the notable exception of getting tea in Blackwells when N discovered that he is capable of drinking tea! and went to bed fairly early in preparation for leaving for London at early o'clock the next morning.  We were going to see G and M, who recently moved to the town of Crawley.

Our train departed Oxford at 7:30 in the morning, and so we set off from the flat at 7am, walking through drizzle.  Our train was late, so we spent a half hour waiting to depart, but afterwards the journey into London was warm and crowded.  We arrived at Paddington and took the tube from there to Westminster.  We decided to get out there and head to the National Gallery to wait to meet with G and M, but when we exited the tube we received word that we didn't have time to make it to the NG.  Instead we walked up Whitehall to the Strand and then to Aldwych, taking the old Anglo-Saxon route into the City of London.  At St Paul's, we turned onto the Millennium Bridge and spent some soggy time waiting on the southern side of it for G and M before opting to sit inside the Tate Modern.  We huddled together on a bench and tried to get warm/dry.

Once we met up with our friends, we wandered around the Tate Mods and then headed over to Borough Market, walking along the South Bank of the Thames.  I can't tell you how many times I've made that walk, but I still enjoy it -- even in the pouring rain.  I love passing under Southwark Bridge and seeing the murals about the time the Thames froze and passing the Golden Hind and the Bishops' Palace.  Borough Market was absurdly crowded but we introduced N to meat pies and he seemed to like it.  I wanted to go to get coffee/tea at Monmouth Coffee but apparently my trendy knowledge got out and is now so trendy that the queue, even in the pouring rain, stretched around the building.  We skipped the hot drinks and, at N's request, took the tube over to the British Library.  We got out at Kings Cross/St Pancras and got to see the new station, which I think is one of the most impressive buildings in London.  

The library had a fascinating exhibit on about the history of the English language, which just happened to coincide with one of N's current research interests, so we spent a lot of time going through the exhibit.  One of the coolest things about it was a large interactive map of the UK with recordings of different accents.  We listened to that for quite some time.  Then N recorded his accent so that the BL can store it for posterity.  Based on a map of results, he was the only one from anywhere even near Colorado...

After that we went to the British Museum to see the cat mummies.  It was incredibly crowded due to being a Saturday, so we and 1000s of other people saw the mummies together.  The mummies were disgusting and creepy, as per usual.  N described his desire to put cat mummies in sarcophagi as suggested by Kanye West repeatedly.  Then we left and ducked into a pub near Paddington to catch the Man U vs. Crawley game.  N and I left halfway through to catch a train back to Oxford, from whence A kindly swooped in with her new drivers' license and took us to Cowley, where we had curry and fun discussion for MahW's birthday.  After that we went to the Turf, and then onwards to the flat.

On Sunday we had a nice lie-in and then spent several hours wandering around Oxford without any coherent plans materializing.  We discovered that N genuinely likes chai tea lattes at Combibos and checked out the vast array of pottery at the Ashmolean.  Following that we headed home to watch the Top Gear Christmas Special with A, Ai, T, and J.  N and I then decamped to the Duke of Cambridge for some excellent half price cocktails and fantastic conversation before heading home to some delicious soup and sticky toffee pudding.  

On Monday, N and I took E's bike and went for a ride around some of the sights of nearby Oxfordshire.  I had originally intended for us to go up to Woodstock but the weather was somewhat awful.  Instead, we got very muddy on the towpath and saw two country churches.  Luckily we had our rain suits on!

That evening, T and J took us to Oriel's formal hall.  We had an excellent time despite some questionable food and then I attempted to lure N into the PT at 9:30pm but with no luck after he saw that the entrance was a dank basement down a narrow alley.  

Tuesday was N's last full day in Oxford, but I spent much of it doing work.  I attended a class in the morning and then we went to Hertford for lunch, followed by the Pitt Rivers to see what he didn't get to see in August. After that we went to the American Institute to work before I had to teach until 6.  Then "Sir No-Bikes-A-Lot", E, and I went to Tesco to pick up some pizzas and dessert.  We ate those at the flat before N, T, J, and I went to the Bookbinders, where we met McG, and had a poor showing at the pub quiz (after reading some hilariously British Trivial Pursuit cards from the 1980s).  I could recount the pub quiz at length but all those who were there need to remember is: " 'ousewiffery".

N left this morning at 10, thus concluding his first British foray of 2k11 (but certainly not his last).  And lo, the soothsayers shall sooth to the bards so that they might recount this true tale for years to come.

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