Day 27: Church, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, Dinner with Friends

We continued our second free travel weekend by doing things close to home. First we got up and went to church. Bethany and Dustin decided to join us for church since they had spent the weekend doing things near to Oxford as well. The 4 or 5 others back at the house were all still sleeping.

We went to St. Andrew’s Anglican Church again today. It’s so close by and we enjoy seeing local expressions of faith.

They were advertising “Holiday Club” in their bulletin, which is the same as our Vacation Bible School. I took a picture because I thought “Holiday Club” sounded very British.

This week they were offering Holy Communion, so we went up as a family. The Vicar handed each of us the bread individually and said, “The body of Christ, broken for you.” It was a very touching moment that he would spend the time to tell us, complete strangers, individually this sacred message. He even knelt down to Zeke’s eye-level to tell him too.

The sermon time was all a children’s sermon, where a character like Doctor Who (called “Doctor Wot”) travelled back in time to see the story of Joseph unfold. It was very funny and also very poignant. At the end of the story, Joseph declares to his brothers, “You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.” And the Vicar made a direct connection to the story of Jesus there: something people meant for harm (crucifixion), God meant it for good.

It definitely wasn’t our familiar church experience, but it was wonderful to see Christianity alive and well in Oxford, England.

After church, we walked down the street to have brunch at Gee’s Restaurant again. Bethany and Dustin came with us.

 

It was really good, again!

We had a fun time talking with the students.

And the coffee was really great, too.

Then we walked back to the flat, changed clothes, and then took the bus down to city centre to purchase tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus tour.

Zeke wanted to ride on the top deck, so we did.

Zeke really enjoyed being up so high…at least at first. Then it got really hot up there. Before too long, he was saying he wanted to ride below because he was too hot. (Also in the picture below, the Ashmolean’s facade is under construction and so it looks terribly ugly!)

We got off near Christ Church to take a peek into Alice’s Shop, the shop where a little girl named Alice would buy her candy, which inspired Lewis Carroll to write about a little girl named Alice in his famous book, Alice in Wonderland.

You can see the beauty of Christ Church across the street.

We hopped back on the bus and continued on our way.

Our next stop was to get crepes from the crepe stand, “Crepes O Mania” on Broad Street, across from the Weston Library.

They were really good!

We then diverted south to meet up with Shelley’s husband’s sister who happened to be in Oxford (long story). Along the way we decided to get Ben’s Cookies again because they were so good.

Once again, Micah was asleep by the time we got there. In the picture below you can see Ben’s Cookies in the background.

Shelley met up with Kyrie, Brian’s sister, and talked to her for a bit.

Then we got back on the bus and headed for home. We were really tired.

We got home and rested for about 30 minutes before James and Erin headed out with John and Laura for dinner at a nearby pub. Shelley graciously agreed to watch the kids. She is very amazing, and no, you can’t have her, she’s my sister. So there.

We went to the Victoria and had a nice dinner.

We sat outside in the very lovely weather.

Our table was the one in the back right corner. I forgot to take photos while we were there, so I took these photos later. There were a lot of people there when we had dinner.

We came back and put the kids to bed.

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Day 26: Oxford Botanic Gardens

.Saturday of our second free travel weekend we decided to stay closer to home and take it easy. The previous two days were very hard on us, so we wanted a day with a little more relaxed pace. We headed out at about 10:15 to walk around the block to a place that serves brunch on weekends.

Gee’s Restaurant on Banbury Rd was close by and came highly recommended to us.

Inside, it looked like a converted green house.

The food was really good!

After brunch, we hopped on a bus and headed downtown. We got off at city centre and walked down to High Street.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I snagged a picture of this strangely-named store, “Fat Face.”

Then we walked down High Street until we go to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden on the River Cherwell. The Gardens were very beautiful and it was lovely to stroll through the gardens while everything was in bloom. It was also Alice’s Day (i.e. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland), so there were lots of tents set up with fun things for kids to do. Lewis Carroll lived in Oxford, so it’s a fun celebration with a lot of local flavor.

The entrance is incredible.

Inside the gardens, they were amazing.

Some students were playing cricket in the field behind the botanic garden.

The kids also enjoyed the flowers.

And Erin took pictures of tons of flowers. I got a picture of her taking a picture. I thought it was very pretty.

Erin thought the lily pads in the pool were gorgeous.

James and Zeke enjoyed looking at the river and the ducks swimming by. Zeke enjoyed throwing rocks into it.

As we left the botanic garden, Micah fell asleep. We walked back up high street towards city centre and diverted into the covered market.

Inside the covered market, we got Ben’s Cookies, something everyone recommended to us. They were really good!

Back outside, Alice’s Day was in full swing. All the shops had Alice in Wonderland themed displays.

We did a bit more shopping at the official oxford clothing store, followed by some grocery shopping, and then hopped on the bus home.

We got back home around 4:00. The weather was in the high 60’s and sunny all day. It had been a really nice day.

We ate dinner together and then went to bed.