Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Daily Trip to School

I start by leaving our flat...

And walk about a third of a mile down Bartlemas Close...

Passing several college sports fields along the way...

And the world's largest artificial tree...

I have no idea what its purpose is
Yep, its fake

At the bottom of the hill, I cross Cowley Road...

And walk about two blocks to the bus stop...

And I hail the bus...

And ride it for about one mile to City Centre...

And then I get off the bus at Queen's Lane bus stop...

And walk another half mile up St Cross Road...

Passing Hollywell Cemetery along the way...

What school doesn't have a cemetery next to its law faculty?

Finally arriving at the St Cross Building

Not exactly the most historical building at the University of Oxford
A view from the final destination

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is about 8 miles outside of Oxford and is a must see if you come visit us!  Jared and I bought year-long passes to make sure that all our visitors will get to see this fabulous palace.

Unfortunately we could not take pictures inside the palace, but here are a few more than enough of the beautiful grounds.  The forecast called for a beautiful and sunny day, but in true English fashion we never saw the sun.  We have slowly learned that you should always carry an umbrella in England!

The entry gate at the main road
The driveway up to our flat.... I mean Blenheim Palace
The front gate
The palace is one of England's largest houses, and it was built between 1705 and 1724. It was originally a gift from the Queen Anne to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, in return for his military triumph over the French at the Battle of Blenheim.

The palace is currently home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough  It is also famous for being the birthplace of the most famous member of the Churchill family, Winston Churchill.  Winston Churchill was not a Duke, but his grandfather was the 7th Duke.  Since Winston's father was the not the oldest son of the 7th Duke, Winston's uncle was the 8th Duke.

It was also an accident that Winston Churchill was even born at the palace.  His mother went into early labor at a ball , so baby Winston was born in one of the bedrooms of the palace.  There was a very interesting exhibit on Winston Churchill inside the palace, and he spent much of his childhood at the palace with his grandparents.

First look at the palace, inside the gates
The gardens were fabulous!
Jared and I trying to do the perfect self-portrait while still getting the fountain in the background
Wouldn't you like this to be your backyard?
The Temple of Diana in the gardens...where Winston Churchill proposed to Clementine Hozier
I guess the Duke really likes ducks
The palace sits on 2,100 acres, so we walked and walked and walked.  It was absolutely gorgeous with all the leaves changing colors.

I may or may not have put this guy and 32 of his most colorful friends in my bag to add a little fall color to our flat....don't tell the Duke!
Next we came to the beautiful rose garden.  Of course the roses were not in full bloom since it is fall, but we could imagine what they will look like in spring. The garden was in the shape of a huge circle with one color of roses planted in each section.  We hope to come back and see the roses in full bloom in the spring.

This trellis went all the way around the garden....stunning covered with roses, I'm sure!
A view of the lake
Perfecting the self portrait again in the rose garden
A glimpse of the waterfall
Crazy big house, huh?
Shhh...we found the Secret Garden.  Don't tell!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Market at Gloucester Green

Every Wednesday there is a market in the City Centre.  I love going because the fruits and veggies are so fresh and much cheaper compared to the local stores.  Of course, I always get carried away with my purchases and find myself really wanting to give my apples away about halfway through my walk home...they get so heavy!

The vendors really like to yell about their featured produce and prices.  I guess this is their preferred method of advertisement.  This really scared me during my first visit, but as I was walking around today, I've actually grown quite fond of someone screaming at me about the price of the "bonanas".

Take a look at this purple cauliflower!
Have I mentioned how much I love fall?
Pork sandwich anyone?  Yes, that is an entire pig!
Yummy breads!

In addition to the food booths, you can find just about everything else at the market.  The booths are filled with rugs, used books, scarves, plants, cleaning supplies, clothing, etc.  Kind of reminds me of Canton...with just the junky aisles.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the market with two of my new friends and I found this tea towel at a honey vendor's booth.  My kindergartners were the "Busy Bees" and my class theme was centered around bees, so I had to have my picture taken with it...thanks Claire!

Today I came home with tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, avocados, garlic and apples.  I debated on "bonanas" but knew I would regret the extra weight in my bag.  Two scarves might have also jumped in my bag, along with a Jane Austen book.  I'm English now so I might as well embrace the scarves and English literature!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two Classics

After almost two months in Oxford, I finally got around to trying the quintessential English meal of fish and chips:
Notice the very large portion of "mushy peas"
The batter on the fish was nice and crispy.  And even though I do not particularly care for green peas, the "mushy peas" were better than I expected.  They are actually not that mushy, and are flavored with something that tastes similar to wasabi.  This is good news, since most dishes in English pubs are served with a side of these peas.  Overall, I was was fairly impressed...but I would still prefer some gold ole' fried catfish and hush puppies!

In addition to trying new food, we have also been sampling local ales in Oxford.
Mom, I promise this was taken at the library
Although Leah has given up on English beer and plans to stick to Foster's for the duration of our time here, I have found quite a few that I really like.  And the rumors about English beer are a little bit overstated, it is not that warm.  In fact, English ales are actually served colder than the Bud Light that may or may not be found in the toolboxes of Jeff and Jeremy two certain farmers who may or may not live in the Texas Panhandle.  Even though I have come to appreciate English ales, I was still thrilled when I spotted this American delicacy on the menu:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lunch at Kellogg

We are living the student life again and with that comes the art of finding free or really cheap food!  We have definitely hit the jackpot with the dining hall at Jared's college.  Now when you think of cafeteria food you might let you mind linger back to your high school days or even college.  In the Kress cafeteria my choice of a highly nutritious meal consisted of a pizza pocket...not sure what was in it, but for a dollar, you can't go wrong.  At Texas A&M our meal card allowed us to visit Double Dave's to partake in the pizza rolls.  Do you see a pizza theme in my life...and I wonder why I always complain about the size of my....oh nevermind.

Kellogg College is one of the newest colleges at the University of Oxford.  It has been in existence for about twenty years but some of its facilities are quite new, including the dining hall.  The Kellogg dining hall is very modern compared to most colleges.  It's a beautiful room that looks over the gardens, I can't wait to see them in full bloom in the spring.  Each college is very proud of it's Coat of Arms and it can be seen on everything.  The Kellogg Coat of Arms displays an open book to symbolize learning and an ear of corn (I think it looks more like wheat) in recognition of the benefactor of the college, the king of cereal.

Every day you are served on fine china complete with the Kellogg Coat of Arms.

You are served either sparkling or still water, with the Coat of Arms of course.

Your chair proudly displays the Coat of Arms.

And what English lunch is complete without fresh flowers!

You have your choice of a meat or vegetarian main course, an array of sides and a scrumptious dessert.  And of course, hot tea which is readily available.  I could get used to this kind of cheap cafeteria food...but I've yet to see them serve pizza.