I haven't been quite as excited about London as I thought I would be. Our housing is in the stuffy, business part of town, which is dull, uninviting, and a far cry from NYC. The food is expensive, the people unfriendly, and overall, I just haven't been as enchanted with London as I thought I would be. Parts have been downright enchanting, like seeing five awesome plays and going to high tea at Fortnum and Masons (so many tiny sandwiches, so little time!), but overall, I've been less thrilled about London than I thought I would be.
So rather than spend another day in our hamster-scented rooms, a group of us took a day trip to Oxford. It was marvelous. It was ancient, as most of London is, but it was also lived in and vibrant. We went to Oxford Castle and forewent the expensive historical tour for free rolling on the grass. A rather worthwhile trade in my opinion.
One of the main reasons for our day trip was a pilgrimage to the Eagle and Child, the pub where CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein and other learned men with only initials for first names hung out. I was particulary impressed by the pub sign which, as you can see, features a large eagle carrying off a small child, presumably to eat it. The Inklings, the crew JRR and CS ran with, affectionately referred to the pub as "The Bird and Baby" but other nicknames include "The Bird and Brat" and "The Fowl and Foetus." We ate a suprisingly pleasant English dinner, checked out the Rabbit Room and talked about the Narnia books.
Had I not sent my larger memory card home accidentally, I could have posted all sorts of pictures of our adventures wandering through Oxford, sneaking into colleges, and checking out all the cool architectural bits, but alas, my camera can only take maybe 25 pictures without crapping out.
Fortunately, I managed to get a few pictures of the Clarendon Building which featured statues of the nine Muses by James Thornhill. For some reason, I found myself fascinated by this one statue on the corner. She has two masks in her hands and what looks like a head on a chain around her neck. Anyway, I felt some sort of weird connection to her, and through some careful googling, I've narrowed her down to either Melpomene, the muse of tragic poetry, or Thalia, the muse of comedy and playful verse. At any rate, she completely captivated me.
Other Oxford adventures included riding a bus through the lovely, fog draped English countryside and finding a human jawbone in an old cemetary.
Also, more American buildings, Carleton College in particular, need gargoyles.