Adventuring in Oxford and beyond 


Two years ago...

July 11, 2oo9:
July 11, 2o11:
After two years, one thing is sure: life is never boring with Brandon Eidson.
I love you babe. Hoping for many, many more years together.


Czech Republic

Two days ago:



Hluboka Castle


Karlstejn Castle

More later.


Graduation Day!

The Awards Ceremony and Commissioning Services for the OCCA program were held today. Here are some pictures from that:
We figured we needed a picture of us dressed up on bikes
After receiving his certificate
Giving a thought on the biggest differences between England and Alabama
With Distinction!

The coffee corner
Ellis and Rachel- some of the first people we met in Oxford
Brandon's "huddle group" with leader Sharon

The guys (minus Drew)
We even managed to get Os Guiness in the background

OCCA 2010-11


Wrapping it up

Somehow we are coming to the end of our time in Oxford. We have less than 2 weeks until we move! We have been mourning/celebrating in different ways. Like:
  • Going for a walk in Charlbury (a village in the Cotswolds) with NOOC folks

  • Having Indian night hosted by Jacob and Preeta with amazing food, "ethnic" dancing, and impressions by Kais
 The commissioning service for the OCCA students is tomorrow! Then just one more week of lectures and the program is officially over. It's hard to believe this year abroad is drawing to a close. But we're not headed back to the states just yet... more on that soon!


    Headington Hill

    In the shops around here, I've found four-pane postcards with pictures of Oxford in all of the seasons, taken from one particular hill. For a while I thought it must be a hidden gem, known only to professional photographers who were willing to hike a few miles for this shot.

    Silly me. Turns out it's just a hill in Headington, a village just outside Oxford. On Friday night Brandon and I cycled there to watch the sunset.

    I'm glad we waited until summer to go there. Oxford is spectacular this time of year. The days are long (sunrise before 5 a.m., sunset after 9 p.m.!), warm (50s-70s), and often sunny. It was a great evening to visit.
     (Notice the bottom left-hand corner in the picture above. Doesn't it look like this casual BBQ has turned into a more desperate situation? [For those who are worried, I don't think anything really serious happened. I just caught it at the right moment.])

     And last of all, a silhouette of Magdalen Tower, taken on the way home.


    That "Other" University

    When I told our Oxford-born-and-raised housekeeper where we were headed last Friday, she wouldn't even repeat the name. She called it "that 'C' word." (I thought that was pretty funny.)

    I'm speaking, of course, about Cambridge.

    One of Brandon's friends on the course, Jasmine, studied at Cambridge before coming to OCCA. She and her boyfriend offered to show us around one weekend, so we took them up on it. Thinking it would be nice to have a night away, we booked a room at a little B&B and headed off on the X5 bus (through what felt like 100 roundabouts) before arriving four hours later. (Insert scream here.) Needless to say, I was glad to get there.

    We visited Jasmine and Micha's college, Christ's College, that evening. 
     Here we are lounging in the gardens.
    We didn't walk around much that night, but opted instead for a nice dinner and some time to relax.
    The next day, rested and full of a big English breakfast, we started off through the rest of the city.

    Before I get very far, let me admit something: I'm pretty much  neutral when it comes to the Cambridge vs. Oxford debate. I might be married to an Oxford student, but I'm still way more loyal to Auburn. So out of my unbiased mouth, I say that Cambridge and Oxford have many similarities. Yes, Cambridge is more of a town built around a university rather than a university built up within a town (like Oxford). But walking through its own cobblestone streets feels familiar. You could expect views like the one below in either place.
    You could find people doing some interesting street entertainment in either place. (Though this guitar player in a trash can is way better than a lot of things I've seen on Cornmarket.)
    You can be sure to find famous names all around the city.
    You can be sure to find pubs that sell fish and chips. (Though "The Baron of Beef" is a particularly great name.)
    But there are definitely unique things about Cambridge. Like the Round Church in the middle of town. It's an odd little building. Ranald Macaulay, Francis Schaeffer's son-in-law, serves as coordinator for the work of Christian Heritage based here.
    (Inside, on their book table, we found something we never expected: a newspaper article about the Life! mission week we took part in in Leyland. [David Gibb, I put this in just for you, since you're such a faithful follower of this blog!])
    But one of the biggest differences between Oxford and Cambridge is, in my mind, the way you see the colleges. You actually punt up and down the river Cam through the colleges themselves. Isn't that awesome?
    Micha showed us the proper way to punt. 
    It's harder than it looks, by the way. Before trying it you think to yourself, "I can do that. You just use a big pole to push off the bottom and move the boat forward. No problem." But then you try it and think, "Wow, this pole is heavy. And the boat keeps running into the wall. And I'm afraid I'm going to fall off the back." (Which we actually saw happen to one guy.)
    Anyway, while he was busy getting us upstream, Brandon was busy taking hilariously awful pictures of me and Jasmine.

    Brandon decided to take a shot at punting and see if that worked any better than trying to photograph us.
    He did a great job, though he did have some help along the way.
    And the views of the colleges are amazing. Here is St. John's college.
    Jasmine and I enjoyed being punted around...
    ...before giving it a try ourselves.
    We wisely chose to punt going downstream. It helped a lot (though it does still take a good bit of strength and coordination).
    I even got a chance to redeem myself after a poor attempt at punting in Oxford.  It went much better this time around.
    Then I handed it back over to Brandon, because it got way busier as we went along. But I had a paddle to help him out when we ran into other boats.
    Here we are in front of the Bridge of Sighs.
    Here's Jasmine and Micha.
    And Brandon again, looking very manly.
    After our amazing time punting, we had lunch and walked around some of the colleges. Here is St. John's:
    And King's College:
    And even one called Clare College!
    (They left out the "i" though. It's ok, I added it.)
    We spent less than 24 hours there but saw a lot thanks to our friends. It was a great day away. I'll finish off with some photos.