By now, you can probably tell that Miami University is a special place to me. One of the many reasons is the incredible people I met while I was studying there. This weekend, I got to visit a sweet girlfriend who I met as a freshman – 12 years ago! Miami University is located in Oxford, Ohio, so you can imagine how excited I was to have a little rendezvous in another Oxford…Oxford, England! She moved there with her husband last December, and this was the first weekend we could coordinate our schedules! It also happened to be a weekend that her husband was traveling, so we had a totally girly weekend! So fun! I flew into London Heathrow and took an hour bus ride to Oxford. (For those of you keeping track, driving to the Geneva airport, flying to London, and taking the bus to Oxford took less time than it used to take me to drive from St. Louis to Cincinnati!) Upon arrival, there was a wonderful homemade meal of soup and cornbread waiting for me! What a treat!
As can be expected of two friends who don’t see each other often, we chatted for much of the evening. At bedtime, she asked if I wanted a hot water bottle in my bed. My thought, “a what?!” She asked if I’d ever had one before. Ummm…no. Well, we had to put an end to that. She disappeared and came back a few minutes later with this precious Pooh Bear hot water bottle from her husband’s childhood.
The bottle inside is a rubbery, silicone-like texture. We filled it with boiling water and sealed it shut. Then, Pooh was tucked under the covers to keep my feet warm during the night.
Can you believe it was still warm in the morning?! It’s like magic! I was so amazed that I bought some for my guests! Those of you braving Switzerland in the winter time, rest assured that you will be warm! And how appropriate that my first winter guest is British! We enjoyed a leisurely Saturday morning before heading out for a day of fun. It was cloudy and grey, but not too cold. We strolled into the center (about a 15 minute walk) where we were greeted by adorable storefronts, coffeeshops, pubs, cafes, and the University of Oxford. The town feels posh and scholarly, but is also quite charming. We purchased a ticket to tour the Bodleian Library later in the afternoon, but we peaked our heads into the Divinity School before they began setting up for a wedding. It was so beautiful, and we didn’t want to miss it later!
Can you imagine getting married in a place like this?! We took a walk around the campus, which is beautiful! I only snapped a few photos of the buildings that were especially lovely to me.
No girls weekend would be complete without some shopping! We browsed in a lot of cute little local shops throughout the weekend. In one, we spent time trying on fascinators. I think I was meant to be British, because I LOVE them! I sent a picture to my friend getting married in the UK in May to see if fascinators are part of British bridesmaid attire. (They aren’t.)
When we needed to take a rest, we stopped at The Eagle and Child – a pub that is famous for serving The Inklings – J. R. R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and others.
[I know it’s hard to read the sign on the wall, but it states: “C.S. Lewis, his brother, W.H. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and other friends met every Tuesday morning between 1939-1962 in the back room of this their favourite pub. These men, popularly known as the “Inklings,” met here to drink beer and to discuss, among other things, the books they were writing.”]
Our next stop was the Old Parsonage Hotel for afternoon tea. Imagine our delight when we were seated close to a blazing fireplace surrounded by beautiful artwork and tables full of people enjoying afternoon tea together. We chose “Very High Tea,” which was delightful! We lingered for quite a while enjoying our finger sandwiches, scones (with clotted creme and jam, of course), and little cakes and desserts. It was all delicious! And yes, we felt very posh! (Well, maybe not as posh as the table of sophisticated professors next to us, but posh nonetheless.)
With full bellies, we made our way back to the Bodleian for our tour. We were the last one of the day, and it was dark in the library, which made it feel creepy, magical, and romantic at the same time. The Bodleian is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and has been in continuous use since 1602. It is the second largest in Britain – with over 11 million books and 170 miles of shelving! For the Harry Potter fans out there, some scenes were filmed in “the Bod.” We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but I snagged a few from Google for you to see!
After the library tour, we went home for a rest. On a dreary day, a movie seemed like the perfect way to relax. The couple of movies we wanted to watch weren’t available to rent on iTunes yet, but we finally decided on ‘Begin Again.’ I’ve seen so few new movies this year. It was fun to curl up and watch one…especially one that ended the way we hoped it would! (This is a friend who I’ve seen way too many boxing movies with (think, Cinderella Man and Million Dollar Baby), so this was a big step for us to branch out into a new genre!) By the time the movie ended, we could finally think about eating something else. For the first time in more than a year, I got to enjoy some delicious Indian food! We shared an order of Chicken Tikka Masala and garlic naan. Yum! It was the perfect way to end a simply lovely British day!
On Sunday morning, we had breakfast at The Grand Cafe (the first coffeehouse in Oxford opened in 1650) before heading to church. We spent the afternoon shopping in adorable local boutiques, eating a small burrito at Mission Burrito (for only £4!!), and chasing after people carrying boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. (Turns out we just missed a truck passing out free boxes of doughnuts in preparation for their store opening on December 9th!) For good measure, we stopped at The Rusty Bicycle, the neighborhood pub, for a cuppa tea before I headed to the airport.
[I saw this wallet in a shop, and while I didn’t buy it, it made me chuckle…NOTE TO SELF: Foreign money is not pretend money]
I slept the whole way to the airport, but thankfully, they delivered me to the right terminal. I mean, in England, I wouldn’t expect it to be anyone else’s terminal!
This weekend was so refreshing. I am grateful for friendships that withstand time and distance. And I’m excited that I will be meeting “Baby Bean” the next time I see this sweet friend!