30 September 2008

In the Hamptons

Hey-hi-hello! Let's all just pretend that I am really, really great at keeping up my blog! Here are some photos from a field trip I took two weeks ago to Hampton Court Palace, former residence of Henry VIII (that wife-lovin' son-of-a-gun, immortalized by Eric Bana in the recent "The Other Boleyn Girl"). The palace itself was pretty fly (for a white guy), since it was architecturally half-Tudor, half-Baroque. Tudor for Henry, Baroque for William and Mary (the III and II, respectively). The trellis in the photo on the left was very picturesque, so, naturally, I took a picture of it. On the right, we see an imposing Tudor facade. Just like Henry liked it - imposing.

Before we went to Hampton Court Palace, I asked my Junior Dean, Jonathan Kirkpatrick, if it would be anything like the hotel chain in the United States of the same name. He said no.

You may recognize the next photo of this rotund Gothic-looking structure from my pilfered Google photo in the upper right-hand corner of my blog. This is the Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian library, and where I spend a good deal of my time these days. Right now I am finishing up a paper on the role of religion in shaping British national identity in the 18th century, and starting a paper on film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels (focusing specifically on Pride and Prejudice). Needless to say, I have been doing as much research as possible. My life is a fairy tale.

I have many more adventures to tell, and many more blessings to relate, but right now - homework calls (and it is a sweet, sweet sound). More from the City of Boots and Brollies asap!

15 September 2008

Cheers from London!

In my opinion, there is nothing optional about an "optional fieldtrip" to London. Quite the reverse, in fact. London—home of Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper, and even, for a brief time, Jimi Hendrix—is a sprawling, vibrant city, as impressive as it is expensive. Taking a coach (yessir, another double-decker) from Oxford at 8:30am, we arrived in London early enough to do some serious damage to our feet, traipsing around town from 10 in the morning till 10 at night. Minus the time spent on the tube, of course.

A List of Important, Entertaining, and/or Famous Things I Saw in London:

- Buckingham Palace
- Tower of London
- Globe Theatre
- Big Ben
- Westminster Abbey
- Tower Bridge (known mistakenly to tourists as London Bridge)
- St Paul’s Cathedral
- the National Gallery
- Millennium Bridge
- Thames River
- A homeless man feeding a baby squirrel with baby formula from a syringe in Trafalgar Square

I attended evensong and listened to the angelic overtones of their world-renowned boys’ choir echo off the gold-emblazoned ceilings of St Paul’s. I saw Rubens, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio up close in the National Gallery. I stood outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and wished the Queen were at home to greet me. I ate pizza off the street in Leicester Square for a

pound-seventy. I took the underground and saw where the fire of London started and walked on the same streets as did Samuel Pepys and the Beatles.

And then I caught the coach back home to Oxford, stopping at G&D’s for homemade Bailey’s (flavored) ice cream before crashing into bed at midnight. What a lucky girl am I!

Nike Ad

Aw heck. One of me jumping off ruins at Old Sarum too.

(More) Angles of a 750-year-old Cathedral

I couldn't post my recent photos of London without adding just a few more of this ancient place. One from inside the dome, one from the courtyard (near an original copy of the 1215 Magna Carta), and one from the tallest cathedral spire in the world. Just another day in England.

11 September 2008

Stones, Henges, & Cathedrals

Salisbury Cathedral, Old Sarum, and Stonehenge: just your average Wycliffe lecture!

Today we boarded a real live double-decker bus (one of which you can spot if you look carefully between two stones on the left-hand side of the 'Henge!) and journeyed to Salisbury, home to the oldest cathedral built in one cohesive style. An hour-long tour with our knowledgeable septuagenarian guide (Tony) later, and a quick jaunt up the tallest spire in the world, and we were off to Old Sarum, the site of the earliest settlement in Salisbury, England. And finally, we paused at Stonehenge - where I took several cheesy jumping photos AND met my first actual, flesh-and-bone Druid! He was displaying propaganda trying to persuade the English to move the Visitor's Centre up the hill and away from the ancient Druidic holy site. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Stonehenge was constructed a good thousand years before Druids arrived in the country, but I did wish him the best of luck with his religious endeavors. He had a Cockney accent.

Today I touched 750-year-old stones, and walked where long-dead kings once trod. A beautiful and blustery day; one for the books, as they say.

09 September 2008

Poetry in Process

halfway through my morning run
they greet me.
two swans—
a welcoming whisper of white
in the august narrative of Oxford grey.but they cannot help their curiosity.
even the cobblestones peep
out from beneath hot-poured asphalt,
to breathe once-ancient air afresh
and nuzzle

my two muddy soles.

Here is first, a black-and-white picture of my home at Crick (mine are the open windows on the second story), and second, a poem inspired by this soggy, sensational Oxford weather. I thought the juxtaposition of the poetry with the haunting chiaroscuro of the photo would make me appear very intelligent indeed. Or at least very emo.

Today in Oxford I...
- Set off a fire alarm.
- Watched a Simon Schama video for class.
- Drank 5 (tiny) cups of coffee.
- Visited my first pub.
- Debated theories of evolution and God's divine foreknowledge with my classmates, and told the story of how I got lost at Heathrow airport. Twice.

More to come from the City That Never Sleeps!

06 September 2008

The House at 8 Crick Road

Here I am, safe and sound in Oxford! One of my two roommates is graciously letting me borrow her power adapter so that I can use my laptop in this European country. I live in room 4 on the 2nd floor (which is technically called the 1st floor, don't know why) of my house at 8 Crick Road, a stately brick beauty on a quick, sprawling lane. There are 24 of us in this house, the smallest of two homes owned by the CCCU program I'm studying with, and because of its more intimate setting is considered the most community-oriented house. Which means we're the best.

Despite being incredibly jet-lagged (which gives my eyelids a greasy, heavy feeling, don't know why), I got a great night's sleep, after drinking tea (which is nast-city without milk and sugar, by the way) and chatting with some of my Oxford colleagues. And this morning, I awoke to a dream-come-true: running with friends at Oxford. Three of us got up at 8:00am and found a PERFECT little gravel trail, which winds about 1.5miles around part of the campus. There were leafy trees, and old men with dogs, and ancient buildings, and fresh air, and rain, and perfection. To run in this beautiful old city, rich in history and stories. I am the luckiest girl in the whole wide world.

And now I adventure off into the center of the city, in search of a power adapter (so I can return my roommate's), laundry detergent (so I can wash my running clothes), and coffee (so I can function). Cheers!

PS: I love you, Mom!!

04 September 2008

My Oxford Address

In just over twelve hours I will be on a plane, bound for England (the Old Country), possible sitting across the aisle from Hugh Grant and/or a Spice Girl! And since I know that some of you (or maybe just mostly my mother) will want nothing more than to send me some snail mail while I am abroad, here is my Oxford mailing address:

Christye Estes
2 Frewin Court
Oxford, OX1 3HZ
United Kingdom

I'm sure you could also send any letters or postcards to me by owl (since this is the UK, and the realm of Harry Potter), but I hear their shipping rates are outrageous these days. More excitement to come, once I finally finish packing and actually arrive in my home for the next fourteen-and-a-half weeks. Wish me luck!