Saturday, 24 January 2009

Onward and Oxford

That's right ladies and gentlemen! Today I went on a tour to see the sights that England has to offer. The destinational menu included Blenheim Palace and Oxford. So a majority of the international students from Royal Holloway teamed up with international students from various other unis and we set off towards the Duke of Marlborough's house. It was a tad colder today and the frost on the grass was an indicator of such. Anyway we reached the palace and because his flag was raised (oo-er) he was at home which meant we were forced to only peruse the gardens and sneak looks in his many many windows.

The gardens, however, were stunning. Purely man-made it consisted of a lake with rolling hills, trees each perfectly placed, streams and bridges. You can see the palace here in the photo. As we were looking from this view a very fancy car sped past (Lamborghini or some such vehicle) and the tour guide said "actually that's probably the Duke now" keeping in mind that he is recently on his forth wife and 82 "that's probably how he gets the ladies". Too true. She couldn't be sure that it definitely was the Duke so throughout the gardens we would point at various animals or people and claim them to the Duke of Marlborough. Mostly sheep. It's funny though because the origins of the palace include John Churchill (the first Duke) winning at battle in the 17/18th century and being giving a blank check by Queen Anne to build his dream home. The only problem was he went overboard, as you can see, and Anne got quite shirty about it.

One other thing while I remember - the tour guide was telling us that the person who is closest to the monarch of the time is known as... "Groom of the Stool". Now think about it. What a stinking honour! Haha! Anyway back to the tour...

After traipsing a million miles through random English country side we reached a little cafe thing that had tea and biscuits ready for us. By this time it was 11am so it was "elevensies". Here is a photo of Miranda and I firmly agreeing with this new eating-time. I'm not much of a tea-drinker but this one sure hit the spot. Just two minutes away from this little den was the grave of none-other than Winston Churchill. Had a wee quiz and admired the fresh flowers with "my hero" written on them. He can still pull the ladies - posthumous! I just remembered - there were some quotes by Winston Churchill which I have to reiterate to you. He was in a pub getting drunk and a woman came up to him and said "you're a drunk" and he replied "I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly"!

After "elevensies" we got back onto the bus and scooted on into Oxford in all its glory. I was surprised by how big it was. After all it was a town built around a university like Eton but so much busier and bustling with people. I really liked the town. I would definitely consider living in Oxford - from what I saw. We walked through the town and saw the pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis drank as well as the grounds which inspired Lewis Carol's "Alice in Wonderland". We walked through the college itself and saw the ornate buildings carved individually. There was one college that was called "Brasenose" purely for the reason that the door-knocker is a brass nose! Oh you English folk and your quirks!

We then went to Christ Church which had me confused at first - isn't Christchurch in New Zealand? I worked it out as we entered a church and not the ocean. The church was mostly fostered around the life of a nun named Frideswide. The story of life says that a man fell in love with her so God blinded the man because she was a nun and therefore shouldn't be lusted after. Frideswide meanwhile felt really bad that she got some guy blinded so she un-blinded him. Don't ask how but she did and therefore she's the patron saint of this church. There was a beautiful stained glass window illustrating her life. I don't know if you can actually work the photo out but at least you can understand the beauty. We also saw the dining hall which the dining hall in "Harry Potter" is based on and some stairs which they used in the film. Very exciting. I mean they were some cinematic stairs.
Overall, the day was enjoyable but I felt rushed and couldn't absorb the atmosphere of Oxford. There was a tower you could go up and see the best view of Oxford but the line was so long and I ran out of time which was really disappointing. Oh there was also really lovely undercover markets and little shops throughout the high street. The high street which I may, or may not, have bought a "Oxford University" tee-shirt. I wanted it to have "I didn't go to" in front of the words but ah well. Long day! Long blog! It was nice to actually see some more stuff instead of the laundry - though that was EVIDENTLY very fun.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, okay. so she's a nun, right.
    so how is it she's allowed to totally undermine god's authority and unblind people he has smote?
    that's so not on.
    and i'm totally jealous of you, and you make me giggle.
    raised flag.
    lots of love,