Ways to combat jetlag...waking up at 6:00am to make it to a car rental reservation. This has now been tested and verified as an unsuccessful method. But we did it, and we made it to our reservation on time. Scott drove in the UK for the first time and handled it smashingly, with no actual smashing involved.
David, Suzie, Scott and I did the drive to Stonehenge, with Kevin and Laura in a separate car and zooming ahead of us. Apparently one should not get involved in a landspeed contest with Mr. O’Shea. <grin>
While the morning started very early, it let us have what seemed the typical English countryside experience. We got to see some wide open mist filled countryside. Moody, possibly with enough time coming across as a little dreary but for those of us who aren’t used to it...it was perfect. And then our powers of California won out and the English October day became a beautiful spring day. Seriously, we are talking t-shirt weather, possible sunburn, and gorgeous blue sky. You couldn’t really ask for a more beautiful view of Stonehenge.
We got to wander around, I got to see something that I’d always hoped to see and do it with folks who are very important to me. That is a pretty amazing gift.
Always had been a pretty geeky kid...no shock to anyone. I’d for awhile thought I would get to escape to Oxford and go to school there and be one of the people in all the British kid’s lit stories that I loved so much. Or even the American kid’s lit stories that copied the British style. Studying, getting to walk seaside or cliff side or across moors. Studying ancient manuscripts. So, seeing that Oxford was having a special exhibit on Tolkien and his work going into making Middle-Earth, it seemed a perfect signal that at least I could make it to visit, and see what that childhood dream life was like for someone who lived it.
We drove from Stonehenge to Oxford. And when I say “we,” I mean Suzie. Who ended up having to navigate and handle the insane parking lots of Oxford, which she handled with aplomb. Sadly we arrived a fair bit later than expected, parking was a bit much more challenging, and the distance a good walk. So, we arrived a bit late and the exhibit was running far behind schedule. Luckily we did have tickets to the exhibit to get it, but it meant that there wasn’t really much time to see Oxford proper, the campus, the grounds, etc. The exhibit was quite interesting, very well curated but very poorly organized. Our best guess is that they weren’t expecting the level of crowds and ended up possibly having to utilize a different entrance or flow then the galleries to planned??? But it meant that every exhibit you lined up for, you were at the end of the exhibit and progressed through it backwards. So if you wanted to see the exhibit in the proper order you had to jump the queue and then “swim” against the flow. But still worthwhile.
With the long day, we were all quite hungry and tired. Suzie and Laura had done some information gathering while the rest of us were at the exhibit and found two of JRR Tolkien’s old haunts, The Eagle and Child and The Lamb. Neither of which had room for us. But it was still cool to get to wander in and see. We then found the nearest pub that provided food and ate quickly and wearily hopped back in the car to make the way back to London.
While, that should have been enough for one day, instead we got to end on an unexpectedly high note. Gabe let us know that he was available that evening and we got to have a lovely nightcap that he provided (bringing my favorite gin) and getting to share stories. It was amazing to get to chat and get just hear stories and catch-up. Cheers!