Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Fell For Oxford!

The History of the English Language class Week 3, Oxford

Peckwater Quad, where classes were conducted
What can you cram into nine days and nights in Oxford, England, while still allowing a few hours for sleep?
  • Popping into pubs for cider at the fabled King's Arms, The Turf Tavern (where Henry VIII quaffed a few ales and centuries later a famous Fulbright scholar, Bill Clinton, allegedly did not inhale) and The Lamb and Flag.
  • Admiring William Holman Hunt's 1853 allegorical painting, The Light of the World, in a sideroom of the chapel at Keble College, where I resided for three nights before moving to Christ Church.
  • Blinking in astonishment at the anachronistic hilarity and hodgepodge of musical parodies in the so-called pop oratario Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the New Theatre. 
  • Shouldering my way through throngs of touring Asian students to stare at Picasso's Le Tub, painted in 1901 at the onset of the artist's "blue period," at the Ashmolean Museum. Founded in 1683, this repository became Britain's first public museum.
  • Fighting back tears at the heart-wrenching closing speech of Kate in the Globe Theatre Touring Company's all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew in the Bodleian Library Old Schools Quad.
  • Sitting down happily and hungrily to three hearty meals each day in the Christ Church dining hall, where Lewis Carroll once did, as rumor has it, Harry Potter!
  • Traveling to charming Kelmscott Manor, the Tudor home of William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, and seeing in person the paintings by Dante Rosetti of  Morris' wife Jane, the ultimate pre-Raphaelite model...and Rosetti's lover.
  • Discussing language with noted lexicographer Julia Cresswell, tutor for my class, The History of the English Language. Julia is second from the left in the back row in the top photo above.
  • Touring the Oxford Universal Press building, where the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is produced. Here's where I missed the final step and fell down the final stair of the landing, scraping and bruising my right arm and throwing me into momentary shock, as I recalled tumbling down the stairs at home right before Christmas 2006 and shattering my shoulder. (No permanent injury, but a bit of an embarrassment.)
  • Dining at High Table slightly to the left of the imposing painting of Henry the VIII, founder of Christ Church.
  • Learning, at last, why Hertford Bridge, across New College Street, acquired its nickname, The Bridge of bears some resemblance to the bridge in Venice, but not so much as it does to the Rialto bridge there.
  • Saying goodbye to my fellow classmates at the farewell dinner, with the spectacular Death by Chocolate dessert tray, and every course accompanied by fine wines.
Because I've also attended the International Summer School II and the History courses at the University of Cambridge, I've been asked which I prefer, Oxford or Cambridge. That's like asking a loving mom which child she prefers. Since this isn't Sophie's Choice, I'd say I'll choose them both!

Here's a comparison from a website,


  • A small city where almost a fifth of the population are students and the centre is dominated by the University; it could be the place for you if you’re after a small town feel.
  • Cambridge is more laidback than Oxford and arguably prettier, with a river flowing through the city centre and countryside surroundings.
  • If you’re into pubs more than clubs, Cambridge won’t disappoint.


  • If you’re after a bustling city, Oxford is livelier and busier than Cambridge, but it’s still small enough to cover on foot.
  • The city may appeal to culture fans with its museums and galleries – and it’s got more shops, too.
  • Oxford has more in the way of nightlife than Cambridge with more bars and clubs.
Here's the courses being offered in 2014, six weeks from July 6 to August 16...note the Week 3 course in The Beatles!

Old Tom

The Bridge of Sighs

Le Tub, Pablo Picasso


  1. Thanks so much for the comparison! What a wonderful trip.

  2. We started with pheasant bar-b-que coleslaw (i think its only on the restaurant week menu) and pimento cheese sliders. This is not typical bar food! The appetizers were outstanding...all of us agreed and gladly scarfed them down. Taxi Oxford to London