The first leg of this trip to the Trinity conference is over. I ended up having a row of seats to myself on the plane out of New Zealand, so I was able to lie down for much of the flight. Not a lot of real sleep, but I prefer to leave that for the second (longer) flight. Apart from being poked in the leg and asked to turn off my light because it was keeping some youngster awake in front of me (by a very harried mother of course), the flight was uneventful.
The lounge at Hong Kong airport is quite nice and I had a good shower and felt much more refreshed. Nice to eat some real food – and not airline food. Especially nice when I saw the first meal on the Cathay flight. For some reason they seem to think that uncooked boiled potatoes are low calorie. Mostly they are plain inedible. This time they had a sort of half mashed potatoes and onions slush which I found difficult to differentiate from the fish it was covering. Needless to say, I was delighted I had eaten well at the HK airport and left that meal mostly untouched. A shame really, because Cathay do so much so well…
A reasonable amount of sleep on the second leg. I find it difficult to believe that I can actually get to sleep on planes now. I never used to. However it has left me feeling reasonably ok for the day to travel up to Oxford to see Emily.
I had time to look around Paddington Station – from where I caught the train to Oxford. This station has a very eclectic mixture of old fashioned and new – all juxtaposed under one roof – or series of roofs. There is a rather barn-like quality about parts of this station with some quite modern sections which contain mostly the shops and cafes which surround the platforms.
Oxford – well don’t go there if you want to look at modern glass and metal buildings. One of the university towns of the world. From the the very moment of arrival, you feel that you are in a place of academia – student cafes, student shops and certainly students abound here. I went to Blackwell’s Music to look at their secondhand music, to find that they do not sell that any more – “but we are having a very good sale on much of our music downstairs”. So trudge down to the second floor to find a few clarinet and saxophone books, written by extremely obscure composers. I doubt any of that would be if use to me – so that was a saving in money at least…..
The open Market (held only on Wednesdays) was interesting. Mostly old collectors items and bric a brac. Then I walked around some of the university precincts, taking a few photos before meeting Emily for lunch.
These are (form left to right)the Bodleian Library (called “The Bod”). the Oxford version of Venice’s “Bridge of Sighs”, an unnamed monument, (and below) the Museum of Natural History and the Museum Lodge. Also the physics lab where Emily was by chance working at the time.
We had a lovely lunch at a place appropriately called “Quods”, after which I was shown through the hidden delights of Queens College. An extra good treat as it is one of the Colleges which does not open to the public. A Harry Potterish kind of place – with a dining hall almost of the film, with a library full of first edition leather-bound books and creaky stairs, people talking in hushed whispers amid old working planetary models and globes side by side with modern computer equipment. This is a working place more than a meeting place!!
The college Chapel was equally enthralling, with beautiful ceilings and stained glass windows. There is a sense of history and spirituality here. Back out again to the well manicured symmetrically designed quadrangle lawn (aren’t they all?) and then out again through the walls into the “real” world of Oxford.
We wandered down to the covered market where I found a pair of double espresso cups – with a music design. I was tempted to take a photo to put on here, but I think that is tempting fate. If I get them back to NZ safely in one piece, then I will do so
Back to the station (over the canal), onto the train (still on the day I arrived into London) and back to my hotel briefly before venturing out for a wonderful evening with some friends – meeting at the Thameside Inn ( right beside the Golden Hinds ship on the Thames), close to the Globe theatre. There is a festival of Shakespeare at the Globe this Olympic year in London. All of the Shakespeare plays are being presented in various languages – Swahili, German, Russian, Cantonese….you name it. I forbore to ask if there were one in American…
So a very full day, with a late finish. I am still rather tired today, but am travelling up to Birmingham currently on the train to the Trinity Guildhall conference – the reason I am here after all!
However it was great to see Emily amid all the Oxford Blue