Thursday, July 31, 2014

Postcards from Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis far surpassed our expectations -- it's such a beautiful, friendly, and easy-going little beach resort. I suppose the only difficult part about it was the steep climb back to our B&B at the end of each day, but I appreciated the exercise after all the good food!

The colorful Marine Parade, with ammonite-shaped street lamps.

Steve on the Cobb.

A view of Lyme Bay from the coastal path. (That was a long, arduous climb to the top!)

Me standing on one of Granny's Teeth -- yes, these are the steps from which Louisa Musgrove tumbled in Jane Austen's Persuasion. (Or so some say -- others say the steps weren't yet there when Jane Austen visited Lyme Regis.) Either way, they are precarious. I walked up the steps, but I'm not sure I'd walk down them, much less run or jump. (Here's another view.)

A beautiful door that illustrates how much pride the locals take in their town.

I suppose we were fortunate to have clear skies and calm breezes, but I'd love to return in the stormy season to see the waves crashing against the Cobb. One can hope, anyway!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July Tea and a Book: the Lyme Regis edition

This month's post features books mostly set in Lyme Regis:

Seems like various people have recommended Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures to me, and I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it. It's a fictionalized account of the friendship between early 19th century fossil hunters/paleontologists Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Maybe I held out so long because I thought a story about dinosaur hunters would be dry as dust. I was wrong, of course! Great characters and loads of dramatic tension.

The French Lieutenant's Woman is one of those books I thought I'd read long ago but I must only have read the first 50 pages or so and relied on the film to fill in the rest. What a book! Yes, it's a post-modern take on the Victorians -- "historiographic metafiction" or what have you, but really it's just very entertaining! I laughed through the first 200 pages. The story takes a darker turn 2/3 of the way through (Charles Smithson really is a booby, and we see Sarah Woodruff mostly through his eyes, so I couldn't quite get a grip on her), but I actually liked the "three option" ending. I know my preferred ending is a lot different now than it would have been when I was in my late teens/early twenties. Maybe I need to read it again when I'm 65?

Something else I never knew -- A.S. Byatt wrote Possession as a response to French Lieutenant's Woman? Well, now I have to read THAT again! Weeee!

Now, for the tea portion of this post . . .

Of course, I had to have a cream tea while in Lyme Regis. We chose the garden at the Alexandra Hotel for this light (?) afternoon repast.

I'm usually a "jam on top" sort of person but I'd seen the above photo in one of the local magazines in our room and thought maybe this was the Devon way. Best to try the local(ish) procedure, right?

Turns out I really DO NOT like cream on top. It doesn't spread easily and looks a mess. Just WRONG all around. When we got home (in Oxford, I mean) I did my research and learned this is actually the Cornish way of loading up your scone. Bah! If you'd like to learn more about the "jam or cream first?" controversy, here's a great article from The Guardian.

We enjoyed this view as we ate our scones. More photos of Lyme Regis to come later this week!

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Postcards from Wonderland

We returned from Lyme Regis yesterday, but I'll save those details for a post later this week. For now I want to share photos from last Wednesday when the clever Brasenose conference organizers put together a Mad Hatter Tea Party for all the conference groups. Attendees were encouraged to dress up in their maddest hats, or in pretty much anything related to Alice in Wonderland.

A few of our students (shown here with members of the Brasenose crew on either end) took this as a challenge.

But I was even more impressed by the amazing treats!

No matter which way you turned, there was something fun and/or delicious to tempt you.

My hat was not very "mad" at all, but Steve got as creative as he could at the last moment. The ears are part of a zebra headband from Claire's (yes, they have those little jewelry/accessories stores here, too). Can you guess what the blue and white knitted part is? Because it certainly wasn't meant to be a hat!

[cross-posted at Livejournal]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

London weekend

Alas, I'm behind on my postcards.

Quickie recap of our London anniversary trip:
-- Thursday night we saw Matilda, which was all spectacle and flash and broad humor. My favorite parts were when Matilda told the story of the escapologist and the acrobat.
-- Friday we saw Let the Right One In, which was quite spare by comparison, but I couldn't stop thinking and talking about it afterward. You might have read the book or seen the Swedish film. (Or even the American film.) It's certainly one of the most interesting vampire stories I've ever encountered, and the play's use of Olafur Arnalds' songs was quite a bonus.
-- Saturday night was a Baroque concert at St. Martin in the Fields, which featured a recorder player. I don't think I've ever seen anyone play the recorder live, much less the sopranino recorder! That was fascinating.

Before the play on Friday we had afternoon tea at The Montagu, the restaurant at our hotel. Here's the obligatory tiered tray shot:

You may be asking, "where's the best part -- the SCONES?" The server brought them when we were finished with our sandwiches so we could enjoy them warm from the oven. And here's a closer look at the china, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Selfie taken in front of the National Gallery after Saturday night's concert.

Finally, here's an interesting postcard shot of my view when I met Amy Butler Greenfield for tea at the Vaults and Gardens cafe at St Mary's this past Monday. That's the Radcliffe Camera on the left (with its funny face) and All Souls College at the right. Such a lovely view for tea drinking and chatting!

This weekend it's Lyme Regis, where I FINALLY get to walk the Cobb! Let's hope I don't fall off and bruise my skull like silly Louisa Musgrove. Mostly I'm just keen to see coastline. My brain has been buzzing with story ideas -- you guys know how settings inspire me.

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Going to the city

For our anniversary weekend (23 years!), Steve and I will spend three nights in London. There will be theatre, a concert, and at least one full afternoon tea. Many postcards to come!

In the meantime I offer you these:

A rare shot of Radcliffe Camera and Brasenose College with partly blue sky and NO PEOPLE. Huzzah! (Also, the funny face makes another appearance.)

And here's a photo of the folks in our summer law program at Brasenose (excluding two students, a faculty member, and moi.) A fine looking bunch, don't you think?

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Monday, July 14, 2014

The mystery of the wee blue door, an Exeter window, and more...

Every time I walk along Parks Road, I wonder about this small blue door. The building is on the grounds of Wadham College, but I can't seem to find any information about its history or current use. Was the door used for deliveries only?

A closer view of the door. Any insights?

Last Friday we went to a concert at Exeter college -- Kah-Ming Ng always partners with talented musicians for his Charivari Agreeable performances, and that night two Baroque cellists were featured. (Do you say "Baroque cellist" or "Cellists who play Baroque"? I don't know!)

Before the concert began, I just couldn't resist taking a photo of this window outside the chapel door. Isn't it so very Oxford? A few seconds after I took this, a man came to the window and gave me a dirty look. Needless to say, I scurried off.

Yesterday we enjoyed a concert at the Holywell Music Room, and I was delighted to see Edward Petherbridge in the audience! (He will always be Lord Peter Wimsey in my mind and heart.) I waited after the concert to see if I'd get a chance to talk to him, but he looked tired and shy -- as though he really just wanted to be left alone -- so I didn't push the matter. It was nice enough to have seen him in person.

The first half of yesterday's program at Holywell featured Arcadiana by British composer Thomas Ad├Ęs (who is TWO years younger than me, argh). Most of it was a bit too strange and modern for me to appreciate, but the sixth movement, "O Albion," brought tears to my eyes:

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A view of the Camera

I love seeing the dome of the Radcliffe Camera when walking through the Deer Park and Old Quad of Brasenose College, but this is the first time it's seemed like a face peering over the wall -- am I the only one who thinks this face vaguely resembles the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?

Yesterday was rather cold and wet, but today the sun is shining. I'm looking forward to dinner at The Trout with the Oklahoma alums who currently are enjoying the Oxford Experience, but first I really need to get serious about the work I brought with me . . .

Or maybe I'll take a walk with Steve. It's just too gorgeous outside!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Postcards from the City of Dreaming Spires

We're back in Oxford!

I want to do a better job of keeping in touch while we're here, and therefore my goal will be to post at least four photos a week. Virtual postcards, you might say. And I'll start with the above -- a view from our evening walk through Christ Church meadow (enhanced with the "blue pill" filter from Camera Awesome).

More to come . . .

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]