Monday, May 23, 2016

Heading Over to and Hanging Out in the UK

We woke up to this the morning I left for the UK. Ugh. Friday the thirteenth indeed.

Not an auspicious start. The day felt a bit surreal. As my flight didn't leave until after the boys were in bed, I did all of my usual day to day things. The boys had the day off from school so they played inside while I finished packing and doing laundry. I cleaned the main bathroom and puttered around the house. By early afternoon I was more than ready to pack up and head to the airport and just wait around there. The anticipation was killing me!

During the day I also sat and knit a bit more on a newly cast on sock so that the knitting on the plane, provided I didn't lose my needles at airport security, would be straight forward. I was determined to have a travelling sock for this trip.

Security was fine with my knitting needles so I knit for an hour and a half in the terminal whilst waiting for my airplane to depart. Knitting is a great way to hide your people watching tendencies and I smiled while watching a family chase their youngest daughter all over the terminal while they were on a lay over from another airport. It was quite late by this time - 11:00 PM NL time - and the children were on their second wind and way over tired. And I didn't have responsibility for either of them. Heaven!

I knit on the plane after a couple of hours of sleep. Excitement and the bright sunlight streaming through the windows convinced me that knitting was going to be more conducive to my state of mind than sleeping. I did have an eye cover which I used for the first part of the trip but I hit the point where I simply could not force myself to sleep any longer.

After an uneventful flight, I walked from Gatwick's North terminal to the South terminal via a shuttle and into the train station. I'd purchased my tickets a few weeks in advance to take advantage of cheaper rates with British Rail so, together with my credit card for ID purposes and a confirmation number, I got myself a one way ticket to Oxford where I met up with my friend, A, my tour guide and host for the week.

It was great to see A at the YHA Youth Hostel in Oxford where we stayed the night. We had not seen each other in almost two years. It was wonderful to be able to start up where we'd left off which is something I find you can only do with your truest friends.

I would highly recommend the Youth Hostel as a place to stay in Oxford (for some reason I didn't get a picture of the exterior or interior). Reasonable rates at 25GBP a night per bunk, clean and a reasonably priced breakfast. It caters to all age groups so we didn't feel out of place in the least. We shared a room with four other bunks - two of the ladies (girls from Truro, Nova Scotia as it turned out) we got to meet and the other two crept in after we were asleep and crept out again before we woke up. Well, before I woke up. Sadly, I have a snoring problem which negatively influenced my room mates enough that they did not have a good night sleep At. All. Lucky for A, I was sleeping in another room at her place. Lucky for me, I wouldn't be seeing those young Canadian tourists ever again. Or, so I thought.

One of the college greens. The grass doesn't even look real but it was.
Oxford is just a lovely city. A told me that there were some rough parts of town like any city but we were lucky to see no evidence of that. The only downfall of Oxford was the particular weekend we visited as it was graduation weekend for Oxford students and many buildings and Colleges were closed to tourists due to private parties and general graduation festivities. I was disappointed not to get to visit the Bodleian Library (very disappointed but that just means another trip to Oxford is in order) but we did visit the Ashmolean Museum and enjoy some of the fantastic displays such as the Egypt section.

Dung beetle.
One of four birds at the corner of a mummy's casket.
Just look at the rich pigments that have remained!
We were lucky enough to have time just to wander the streets of Oxford and wander we did. A's pedometer indicated that we walked over 23,000 steps that day! We did stop for nourishment when we got tired. This lovely pub was quite modern inside and treated us to an afternoon snack to keep us going.

I reveled in the shear "Britishness" of Oxford. I love England, Scotland and Wales and Oxford was like a healing balm to my soul.

Somewhere around walking along the river, my camera began to give me trouble and refused to take any pictures. Luckily, I had my iPhone with me and fully charged (incredibly considering I'd left my charger back home in Newfoundland) so I continued with that. Frustrating though. Once at The Red Lion, I managed to reset my settings and the camera restored itself into my good books. This did mean that we re-traced some of our steps around Oxford so that I could capture the city with my good camera proving that A is not just a great friend but truly patient as well!

River near Christchurch.
I could not get over how far ahead into Spring the UK is compared to us. The trees looked practically fluffy with their fresh green leaves compared to the barely there buds we are seeing at home.

Roses in abundance whereas my tulips haven't even flowered yet!

I could come home to this door everyday.
This caught the Morris-phyle section of my heart.
Though tired, our feet continued walking. The gate below is one of the pictures I took when we re-traced our steps.

After some time and after checking out several restaurants and pubs, we finally decided to go back to Jamie's (Oliver) Italian restaurant that we had passed earlier in the day. I had some great meals in the UK but this meal was by far my favourite.

This ravioli and pesto was to die for!

And this non-alcoholic drink was equally delicious. The only thing we didn't have there was pudding (dessert) as we'd kind of done that already at The Red Lion earlier in the day.

After a thrilling and exhausting day, we headed back to the hostel where we charged our various electronic devices and my poor roommates were treated to the sound of my eloquent snores. A fantastic day all in all for me if not so much a good night for them!


  1. Love the post and the regaling of your story, another place to add to my must visit list!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps I'll go with you next time!