Day 6: Church and a Short “Date”

This morning we got up and got ready for church at St. Andrews Anglican Church which is just down the street. We walked 10 minutes to arrive just minutes before it started. We also had 5 students come along with us to attend the 9:30 AM service. They were incredibly welcoming, warm, and friendly. The service was not as “high church” as I expected it to be, with a pleasant blend of liturgy and contemporary worship. It was also quite a full service with lots of parents with young children, which was encouraging, since I keep hearing about the secularization of British society and the decline of the Church. Afterward, I spoke with the priest and he actually knew about ACU due to the frequency with which our students visit on study abroad trips. He was quite friendly.

We came home, made lunch, and put the kids down for their naps. Shelley napped too while James and Erin went out and about to get some food and other things. It being the first time that we’d been alone in Oxford while out and about, we decided to get some ice cream.

After we had finished our shopping, we stopped at the Eagle and Child for a rest and a cappuccino.


On the way back home, James spotted the Oxford Computer Science department and we took a photo.

After dinner, Matilda (the daughter of the on-site coordinator) wanted to know if Zeke could come out and play. They played together on the trampoline. Micah wanted to come too. Below, from left to right: Zeke, Matilda, Micah.


Day 5: Tolkien Walking Tour and The Bodlein Library

Today James led a walking tour for the students around Oxford to sites that are of import to the life and work of J.R.R. Tolkien, famous author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The tour started at 9:30 AM and along the way, James told stories about the life of Tolkien, sharing his love of his favorite author with his students.

We started out our walking tour headed into the central part of Oxford, about 2 miles away. 12 out of 18 of the students participating on this study abroad trip went along on the tour.

Here’s a picture of our group of students outside of Merton College where Tolkien lectured on English Language and Literature from 1945-1959 when we he retired. (he also taught at Exeter college from 1925-1945 in Anglo-Saxon Literature)

Below is Magdalen College where C.S. Lewis taught. It was on the way to our next destination. Lewis and Tolkien were famously good friends.

We then walked to the Oxford Botanic Gardens which were an inspiration for Tolkien and his writings about various plants and nature.

Our next destination was the Bodlein Library where several Tolkien artifacts were on display. Below is a picture of the group in front of the Bodlein.

Below is what one of these letters looked like (though not the one on display today). Tolkien wrote illustrated letters to his children for 24 years detailing the doings of Father Christmas and the goings-on at the north pole, including the antics of a prank-loving polar bear.

After the Bodlein Library, we headed over to the famous pub, The Eagle and Child, or as Tolkien and Lewis called it, “The Bird and the Baby.” Here’s our group outside of the pub.

Here’s the group inside.

This room was where The Inklings met, where they would read aloud their works of fiction to each other.

Inside, we had a great lunch.

After the Eagle and Child, we hiked back up north, about a mile past our flat, to see Tolkien’s home wherein he wrote Lord of the Rings.

Next we continued our hike up north about another 1.6 miles to visit Wolvercote Cemetery where J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife Edith are buried. On the grave is Luthien and Beren, part of the myths he wrote about.

After this, we walked back from the cemetery about 2 miles to the flat. We got back just in time (2:30 PM) to head to our official walking tour of Oxford (not led by James, but rather some tour company).

We headed out, exhausted, to the city center of Oxford for the next tour.

We arrived and waited for our tour guide. And waited. And he never showed. Good thing we didn’t pay in advance. We decided to split up for the rest of the day, allowing the students to do whatever they wished.

So a small group of us decided to head back to the Bodlein, just down the street, and take a tour of the divinity school, which includes the oldest classroom in Oxford. Here we are entering the Bodlien.

And here we are in the inner court. The statue above is of King James, known most of all for The King James Bible Translation.

The tours were all sold out, so we purchased admission into the divinity school lecture hall / exam room. So we went inside of the divinity school and stood inside of the oldest classroom in Oxford, probably completed around 1280 AD. Coincidentally, it’s also the place where they filmed the infirmary scenes in Harry Potter.

Here’s James with the small group of students.

Zeke is really warming up to Jessica (and Collin, not pictured). They had several funny conversations.

We couldn’t go inside any of the libraries because they’re actually functioning libraries used by students, but Zeke wanted to see inside, so I lifted him up. I asked him what he saw. His response: “There is nothing scary inside there.”

After this, we were all exhausted and decided to walk back to the flat. Along the way we saw a phone booth and took Zeke’s picture inside of it.

Finally we got back home, made dinner, and then collapsed.

Zeke and Micah played out in the back gardens with the 3 yeard old daughter of ACU’s on-site coordinator. It was nice.

Shelley asked how many steps James tracked today and here it is below.

It was a long day. A good day, but a long one.

Day 3: Jack’s House and The Bird and the Baby

Today we got up early and got ready to make our way to The Kilns, where C.S. Lewis lived. Lewis preferred to go by the name “Jack” which is how he asked his friends and students to refer to him. Lewis’ house was about 8 miles from the center of Oxford, so we started off our day heading to the bus stop. Micah gets carried in the Ergobaby a lot.

Our first bus stop was right outside one of the Oxford colleges. This one looked so cool that I thought I’d take a picture.

We got on the bus, which made Zeke happy, though he would have preferred a double-decker bus. Below you can see him in his stroller which is parked in “buggy space” on the bus.

Once we arrived at The Kilns, we had a few moments in the garden outside before our tour started, so we took some pictures. The house behind was Jack’s house.



Below you can see Lewis’ study and desk. It’s not original, because almost everything in the house was lost after he died thanks to looters and the next owners not keeping much. However, they’ve mocked it up like it would have been.

The painting below was original to The Eagle and Child when Lewis and Tolkien would have been meeting there.

Upstairs, there was an attic mocked up like Lewis’ childhood home. The sign on the door reads: “This attic recreates the Little End Room in Ireland, where, as boys Jack and Warnie entered their imaginative world of Boxen.” This would serve as inspiration for Lewis’ work The Chronicles of Narnia.

The piano was also original to the house and I sat down to play a bit. (we were told this was okay)

The kids wanted to try it too.

The only other thing in the house that was original to Lewis is the typewriter below, which Jack’s brother Warnie used to type up all of Jack’s writings. Jack refused to use “new technology.”

Behind Jack’s house is a pond with a garden path around it. It was incredibly tranquil and serene; no wonder Jack found it so inspiring.

After this, it was 11:30 and Micah was super tired, so she fell asleep on the bus ride back into town.

Once we were back in Oxford, we took a double-decker bus back to the bus stop nearest to our flat. We got to ride on the top deck at the very front, which made Zeke super happy.

Micah woke up and was even in a good mood.

After we got back, I taught my Old Testament class for the afternoon and the kids napped. Once that was over we headed to the post office to get our money changed and then ate dinner at The Eagle and Child, or as Tolkien and Lewis called it, “The Bird and the Baby.” I’ve even heard it called “The Fetus and the Fowl” by some locals! So here we are getting ready to have dinner at the famous pub.

And here’s some other pictures from the inside.


And one more of me out front.

After dinner we went grocery shopping and then took the bus home. We’re getting used to life in Oxford and getting a handle on local transportation, shopping, and pace of life. We’ve also learned: take an umbrella with you, even if the sky looks rather clear. It’ll probably rain later.