Day 30: Classes Wrap-Up, Shopping, Port Meadow, and Final Dinner at The Trout

For the last day, James’ Old Testament class met in the morning to wrap things up. The students gave presentations on summaries and responses to chapters from a book.

Shopping for an Anniversary Gift

During the lunch break, Erin and James went down to a local pottery store and found a 12th anniversary present (12 years next month). We had been there before to look for a wedding gift for “Aunt Leah,” but after we left, Erin mentioned how she would have liked something from that store. So we went back and picked something out. After all, it’s not every day you’re in Oxford.

The owner’s cat greeted us with enthusiasm (for a cat, anyway). The owner of the store is from South Carolina and her husband is doing a PhD in English literature at Oxford.

Each piece is hand made in the basement kiln. We got the water pitcher that Erin seems to be looking at in this photo (green water pitcher at the top of the shelf in front of Erin).

We got back and ate lunch. Zeke was pretending to be a bear and hibernating under the fluffy blue blanket.

James taught his afternoon class along with his colleague, John, and then it was time for a group meeting.

Walking through Port Meadow and Dinner at The Trout Inn

We had a quick group meeting to discuss how to clean up the houses we had been living in. Jacque walked us through expectations about how things should be left.

Then we walked west of the city to Port Meadow. It was a beautiful pasture that felt like it was out in the country and certainly not near any cities.

It was a 3 mile walk from the flat to The Trout.

 

Horses and cows roamed the meadow freely. The river running through it is the River Thames.

Some of the students got a bit ahead of the group and a herd of cows decided to cross the path. The others had to wait a bit to continue.

Finally, after a long and brisk hike, we arrived at The Trout, situated right on the River Thames.

Inside it looked quite chic. The proprietors claim that the inn was Tolkien’s inspiration for The Prancing Pony Inn found in The Lord of the Rings.

We got to sit outside in the lovely cool of the evening.

Micah was in a great mood.

Some students chose to take the bus back into the city. Erin, Shelley, and the kids went with our on-site coordinator, Jacque, back to the flat. James decided to walk back with some other students. The meadow was amazing as the sun was starting to set.

Several times I was struck by the beauty of the scenery. These pictures simply can’t do it justice.

I took this one while cross a bridge of the River Thames.

This was the absolute best way we could have ended our trip. I chose the “featured image” at the top of this post (and also the image you see when you browse this blog’s homepage) because it’s a fitting one for the sunset of our trip. We’re sad to leave Oxford, but we’re also looking forward to being home again, the kids getting their own rooms again, getting back into a routine again, etc. Now to pack!

Bonus: Michael’s Rap Roast of Dr. Homer:

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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.

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 4: Morning Shopping and Oxford University Parks

Today was Friday and the last day of classes before the weekend. Erin and Shelley took the kids to go grocery shopping in the city center. Zeke was promised he could ride on the top level of the double-decker bus again, so away they went.

        

James had a migraine in the morning and went back to sleep, woke up and felt pretty good, and started prepping to teach class. While James taught class, the kids took a nap. After class was over, around 4:00 PM, the whole family headed over to the nearby Oxford University Parks.

Below is a picture of Zeke pretending to be a motorcycle with a green light going fast! This picture seems to recall another red-headed little boy in Europe at 3 1/2 years old who also wore a harness.

Quick selfie while Erin films Micah doing something cute.

We strolled around the park on a beautiful day. It was 68 degrees F and sunny. It was positively lovely.

      

We stopped by a huge tree because Zeke thought it looked cool.

After that, we continued on down the path and ran into some of the students also out enjoying the weather. We had a nice chat and they invited us to eat paninis with them at a local shoppe, but we had already planned dinner at home.

On the way back we found a fun tree and Zeke got in it and we took their picture.

As we returned to the flat, Micah was being silly.

We had had dinner and then the kids went to bed and James hosted a movie night for the students. Erin made a pan of tiramisu for the students and it was big hit. We watched The Prince of Egypt because James had just talked about the Exodus in his Old Testament class. Afterward, the students stayed and talked for over an hour about the Bible. James did some impromptu lecturing.

It was a good day. Tomorrow morning James is leading a walking tour of the sites around Oxford of import to J.R.R. Tolkien. In the afternoon we’re taking a historical walking tour of Oxford. It’s going to be a fun, busy, and tiring day.