Sean and I woke up early to walk our little friend to school. The sky was grey and spitting, the wind cold and blustering. We were decked out in Wellies and raincoats and walking down streets lined with brick houses and green trees and yards full of flowers.
Once she was safely dropped off, we set off to explore Oxford together, after a couple of days of mostly staying inside to recover from jet-lag. (Although yesterday was a bank holiday and we did go punting down the river to the Victoria Arms--a huge stone restaurant set on a sprawling lawn dotted with picnic tables. We drank pints and watched the kids play and made friends with a pair of beautiful hunting dogs.) All the streets were lovely and beckoning and so perfectly charming that I wanted to take pictures of everything I saw, but even that wouldn't have captured the essence of it, so I just tried to enjoy it.
We wandered into some bookshops, of course, and then got coffee at the Missing Bean, and then over to the Ashmolean. Yay for free museums!
1. The irons that held Thomas Cranmer imprisoned before he was burned at the stake. That was quite powerful for me, given the influence that The Book of Common Prayer has had in my life.
2. The lantern Guy Fawkes was holding when he was caught under the houses of Parliament about to blow the whole place sky high!
3. Powhatan's Mantle: a huge leather skin decorated with tiny white seashells that belonged to Pocahontas's father. The mantle used to hang on a wall in the museum, but people were taking the shells off of it home for souvenirs. So now it is encased in glass.
4. The Alfred Jewel, which was housed in its own special vaulted glass case. It's a man depicted in enamel and then set in gold--probably made in the 800's--but found when a farmer was digging in his field in the 1600's. I just love the idea of a simple farmer finding that artifact one day as he was unsuspectingly going about his business.
By the time we walked home the sun had come out, and everything was green and blooming and wondrous. When I was planning this trip, I didn't realize that it would be spring when we were in Oxford. Spring has never meant much to me seasonally, but I'm so glad now that we are here in the spring. The wind is blowing the white flower petals from the trees into the air like snow, and it's so fun to see the petals scudding down the street when the wind picks up as if they are racing each other.
In the afternoon we walked once more back to Riley's school to pick her up. She was waiting for us expectantly. First we went to the park and looked for snails, walked by the canal, played on the swings and the teeter-totter. It was so windy, it could've almost blown a person over. But there are so many trees here, and the wind in the trees sounds so beautiful, and the leaves look so pretty being blown about. I told Riley that the trees looked like they were dancing, and she said, "Maybe it's Dancing Tree Day."
On the walk home we stopped for hot chocolate and buttery croissants. Riley acted out scenes from Despicable Me 2 and had us laughing so hard. Behind the counter was a giant jar of green olives that Riley and I kept looking at longingly after discovering that we share a mutual love for them. Sean walked up to the waiter and asked if he could get a couple of olives for us, and came back with a cup full of green olives which we ate with great relish.
Tonight we ate pizza, watched Tin-Tin, played games and did puzzles until bedtime.
Being silly on the swings!