An Ode to London

Because things have been pretty quiet, I’m going to take a brief interlude between papers to present an Ode to London.

When I was here two years ago, the Olympics were going on, which was fantastic because I had the amazing opportunity to go to the see Olympic beach volleyball one of the days.

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However, the presence of the Olympics limiting the accessibility of seeing the rest of the city. One of my goals of this trip was to spent more time seeing London, which is very accessible by bus from Oxford. I’ve gone in a few times with various combinations of people, and once with our whole program to see a play.

Here’s a few highlights:

From the Victoria and Albert Museum

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Buckingham Palace

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The Thames and all its accoutrements

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The Prince Henry House

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The National Portrait Gallery (and accompanying rooster)

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One of my favorite London memories was earlier this month getting to see on of my favorite actors, Richard Armitage at the Old Vic Theatre, where he played John Proctor in the Crucible. I’ve taught this play for several years, and even aside from the incredible thrill of getting to see an actor in person whose work I have admired for years, the entire company put on a spectacular performance.

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So that’s all for now, and I’d best pop to work. I have a 20-25 page paper due Monday, and health hasn’t been the best so it’s definitely rally time. Hopefully I will have lots to update on the other side. Or sooner if I procrastinate….cheers!

 

Oxford Snippets

The one-week lapse in postings was not intentional, but probably exposes the fact that life has been incredibly full and busy. Many many pages of reading to stay on top of, one paper turned in already and another in the works. On top of that, there is much to see, lectures, concerts and theater to take in, and much conversation to be had. Regarding the people I have the privilege to spend the summer with, the majority of us are English teacher, and I am blown away every year to consider the impact that these folks have collectively throughout the school year. We can talk about shared experiences, common struggles, passion and most of all heart. When I consider the caliber of each one of them that are deployed to the classroom, and the sheer volume of students collectively represented in Oxford this summer by their teachers, I am so excited to imagine the learning taking place.

Anyways, here are a few highlights of what has transpired in the last week or so.

High Table:

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This takes the of a guest lecture, a reception, and then the illustrious High Table Dinner, a formal, multi-course meal. The professors all sit at the appropriately-named high table at the front. Yes, I’ll say it, much like Harry Potter, and the whole evening is built on tradition and ceremony.

Natural history museum:

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A quick walk from the college, a few of us checked this out on a quiet Saturday. There’s definitely much to see there.

Hillsong Concert:

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Hillsong came to Oxford Town Hall. Beautiful venue and a really strong turnout.

The World Cup

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And of course there’s just Oxford being Oxford.

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Probably the highlight of the last week was a day (and a very late night) spent in London.  Since I have a prospectus to write and I’m about to go back into London, I’ll make that a part two “homage to London” post in the next today or so. But here’s a preview:

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The Day I Swore Off Academic Arson

Yesterday was our library orientation, which involves a surprising amount of ceremony. While studying at Oxford we have access to the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest and most comprehensive research libraries in Europe. The structure is vast, including many buildings both above and underground. Also it looks like this:

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(And the underground part is super creepy and makes me fear for my life, but that’s besides the point)

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In order to get a library card we have to take a pledge (both verbal and written) that we will behave with proper decorum which includes explicitly that we will not “bring into the library or kindle therein any fire or flame.”

I hadn’t planned on kindling any fires to begin with, but taking the pledge certainly instills a sense of tradition. The library closes early, and used to close as soon as the sun set because scholars being up at all hours studying by candle light was a tremendous fire hazard. Taking a pledge that dates back to the candle-lit studying time period serves as a sobering reminder of the great value of the texts around us, and the academic giants who have gone before us. Also fire safety.

 

 

The End of the Journey and Back to School

Our last few days in the lakes were lovely. We were able to take a boat ride around the lake which gave a superb and even overwhelming view.

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The area reminded me a lot of the Swallows and Amazons series, which we grew up reading and is set in the Lake District. We were also able to enjoy the little town of Keswick, which is absolutely charming.

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Here’s the view from the little tea shop where we had our last afternoon tea:

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Saturday we took many many trains and other forms of public transport back to London, and said good-bye at Heathrow Airport Sunday morning. I’m so very thankful for the chance to take a 10-day adventure with this lady:

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So now I’m back in Oxford, settling in. After living out of a carry-on for nine days, returning to the luggage I had stored at the college and finding new outfits and *cough* [indiscernible number] shoes that I brought is marvelous. Other students have begun trickling in the last few days and our program officially starts today. I love seeing old friends and making new ones. The vast majority of us are English teachers during the year so we have a lot of shared experiences and similar interests.

I imagine the 50 or more students each of us represent would probably feel a sense of vindication if they could see us hard at work, preparing for classes with high page-counts of assigned reading and high word-counts of papers to write.  Here is my summer to-do list:

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It’s a hefty workload for six weeks, but such a labor of love. It’s great to be back in school