Sunday, October 30, 2011


First off, thanks everyone for all the responses to my last post. It was a gross 24 hours but but the end of it, I felt so loved and taken care of-- thank you thank you thank you! 

Now, for more cheerful fare: 
I got to go to OXFORD! And STRATFORD-UPON-AVON! And Cambridge and to Cotswolds were pretty too. 
Ah-- I really like traveling, being new places, meeting a few people, or just wandering about on my own. I have a whole 5 day adventure right through the soul of England. 

Day 1: Depart for Oxford

I have longed to be in Oxford since reading these lovely books (careful, the link comes with Narnia music). Oxford is where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and so many other great minds were and are. It's been a center of learning since the 1100s-- wow!!! It shows up in so many books and authors' bios that I had to go. We followed a CS Lewis-themed-print-off-from-some-blog-tour that actually took us to some great places. The city was full of beautiful buildings-- ever so often I would just stare up in wonder, silently adoring the dreaming spires. 

Bridge of Sighs
Magdalen College

The Bodliean, Radcliffe Camera

And in the midst of marveling at the wealth of beauty and brilliance, we made a few Lewis-inspired stops:

We didn't do an official tour of Lewis' house and the church was closed but I got a quick picture of The Kilns (and probably accidentally creeped on Dr. Naugle....) and the grave. The church was lovely and there was just this gathering tranquility in the twilight. I am really glad Neil drove me all the way out there.

Going around Magdalen College was lovely and I really enjoyed seeing the treasures of the Bodleian Library (they had a First Folio of Shakespeare!!!!). I left Oxford quite worn out and extremely pleased with the day.

Day Two: Rest, as it was Sunday, church with Neil's parents (who opened their home to Neil and Rachel and I since they live smack between Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon), and a nice driving tour of the Cotswolds. 
The Cotswolds are an area of England full of charming little villages, old churches, and lots and lots of fields. The scenery is lovely and they were just beginning to dress up for autumn so driving over little hills and around quick corners provided no end of pretty country sites.

Day Three: Neil and Rachel dropped me off in Stratford-Upon-Avon and headed back to Lincoln. After dropping my bags with my B&B, I set off exploring.

I mostly did Shakespeare stuff and it was marvelous! Anne Hathaway's Cottage was my favorite-- it was a short walk out from town and this lovely house with a large garden and friendly guides. They had a scary walk through the woods set up (for kids) with figures from Shakespeare's tragedies along the path. The house itself held so much history-- it was all restored to it's 14th century glory and there was quite a bit about the romance of Will and Anne. It was a pretty, peaceful place.

The other houses were neat but nothing much stands out from them. They had much of the same furniture and same details about the life of The Bard. At Hall's Croft, I learned a bit more about 15th century medicine to add to my knowledge from "Matilda Bone" and  "The Midwife's Apprentice" while creating my own cure for the plague. Nash's house had some nice details about Shakespeare's post-retirement life and a cool dig for the house Will actually lived in once he got back from London. Shakespeare's Birthplace was actually chosen randomly but had a lot about his early years and what life would have been like for the boy Will. And Mary Arden's farm (Will's mum) was also quite nice though quite far out-- I took a short train ride. This was my second favorite for similar reasons to Anne's house: lots of nice places to walk about outside. There were lots of fun, silly things going on for kids for Halloween and I did a few but for the  most part, I enjoyed breathing in the history of Shakespeare and walking through the world he came from. 

That evening, I had a fun, fancy dinner where I tried pumpkin ravioli (I'll stick to meat or cheese or mushroom but it was interesting) and looked around the Royal Shakespeare Company's theater. In the morning, I got up early to visit the church where Will is buried before my train left for Cambridge. I got there so early that I hopped up level with the grave markers and was taking pictures before the caretaker could shut the gold-do-not-cross-this-ever bar! He was really kind about it and the staff thought it was funny that I was there at opening time but I got some great pictures and quite enjoyed an early morning visit to the greatest writer ever. 

A few pics for you (my camera didn't get batteries till about halfway through my day--- so I bought waaay too many postcards-- so nothing too exciting):

The grave curse! 
the church
actually at the grave...

Day Four: Early visit to the grave, then on the train to Cambridge. I spent most of the day on the train, writing and reading, and then the evening in my hotel room because it was about two miles out of town and I didn't want to walk back in after dark! It was nice to have time to just rest, especially after my frenetic tour of Stratford the day before.

Day Five: Cambridge did not have the soaring beauty of Oxford or the rustic charm of Stratford. It almost felt like a wanna-be Oxford until I got on my handy dandy hop-on-hop-off bus tour and began to listen to the commentary. Oxford was full of amazing minds but Cambridge holds it's own: Newton, Watson and Crick, Byron, Milton, Darwin, Marlow, Jane Goodall, John Cleese, Samuel Taylor Colridge, CS Lewis himself, and many many more brilliant minds studied or worked at Cambridge. I spent most of the day here taking pictures of grand buildings (less airy than Oxford but still lovely) and doing the bus tour. King's College was absolutely magnificent but I was also pleased to find this legit old round church built by the crusaders!
Some photos:

King's College

About 2 pm, I hopped on my train and headed back to Lincoln, back to real-life and rude people and hanging out with friends and work that is *hopefully* making a difference. I loved visiting around England I can't wait to do it again. But I also like having a place I belong (for now) and work to do when I am done. 

And look what was waiting for me in Lincoln! 

Seen through a grimy train window. I read a lot of Lewis on the trip as well as a dash of Shakespeare and I think both would see poetry in this picture--the lovely bright rainbow viewed through a grimy window-- promise of a magnificent world to come if we can only deal with the window for a little while more (it was stunning in real life, oh just wow).

So that was my grand adventure last week! It was marvelous!

Thank you again for your prayer and your concern. Please continue to pray I finish strong and also for direction for January-- it's getting close and it's a bit terrifying! Let me know how I can pray for you!

Internationally Yours,


PS not matter what I do to arrange these photos, they do silly things! Any tips?

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