Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blog 48 - 4th August

Travelling to Oxford to attend Skilly and Thea's 60th birthday celebration was a highlight of our final week in England. Thank you so much for inviting us, for your generosity and introducing us to your friends and family from Austria, South Africa, Singapore, Holland, Romania, England, the US and Germany. What an international gathering!

Pre-party and post party lunches and dinners were included as optional extras. The historic Trout Inn is just north of Oxford and is a well known student watering hole on a beautiful river tributary of the Thames. Not to be missed if you are in the area.

Nick and Chris, both born in Oxford where Thea and Skilly first met and married, gave wonderful tributes to their parents. The Skillicorns were our neighbours in Singapore and teachers at United World College where our boys went to school.

A tour of the Balliol College was followed by lunch at the college and in the beautiful grounds.

The tour included Chris's murals which adorned the Balliol students' bar and lounge area. He was invited to undertake this tongue in cheek history of the college while he was a student there.

Later in the day, we all changed into our picnic clothes and headed off to the Proms at Blenheim Palace. Helga, Monica, me, Krishna, Josephine and Thea getting ready for the next adventure. What a day....!

Our group of 28 or so hardly made an impression on the thousands who came to fly the flag, sing 'Rule Britannia' and act appropriately British!! It was so amusing for us and wonderful entertainment off stage as well as on!

The Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture was accompanied by real life cannons - deafening, scary and exhiliarating at the same time.

Our final destination was London where museums and more churches were on the agenda - just for something completely different!!

These Greek treasures in the British Museum were amongst many stolen from the Parthenon in Athens. I wonder whether these women lost their heads before or after the voyage.

Morning tea with Paddy and Marie Ann in Earl's Court was a funny coincidence. These dear friends were our neigbours in Hobart, Tasmania, and were visiting their three sons in London and celebrating the birth of their second grand-daughter. Congratulaations and wonderful to see you both.

While getting lost and wandering around Covent Gardens Market, we came across a group of young musicians bringing classical music to the hordes in a very humorous and light-hearted way.

As an archecture student Damien was required to draw Salisbury Cathedral from memory in his exams. This was Damien's first time in England, so a trip to Salisbury was a must. How surprised we were to see the wonderful lifelike statues adorning this famous building. Great to have such humour in these otherwise austere places.

This actually looked so like a real man lying on his brief case on top of the stone casket that I just wanted to touch him!

The interior fountain was so ethereal - calming and modern in this ancient place.

The Tate Modern Gallery was my favourite - built from a disused electricity generation station, abandoned for many years, it was revitalised about five years ago.

We stayed in student accomodation owned by Wesminster University and were able to walk everywhere. The upside was that it was clean, central and cheap. The downside was shared bathroom and kitchen, however it was fun and friendly. We found a wonderful coffee shop, Gastronomica, and Pimlico market down the road and again, really enjoyed summer fruit and western food. Happy to bring back a supply of muesli and licorice.

On our last night we attended the annual Mass with full choir and organ at Westminster Abbey - yes, where the Royal Wedding was! We were walking past and noticed a poster promoting this celebration for Our Lady of Pew. We had never heard of her and are neither Anglican nor religious, however, it seemed like a good opportunity to see inside and hear some lovely music. We got to sit in the wooden stalls next to the choir and were invited, along with everyone else, to supper in the private gardens of Westminister Abbey. What a rare treat and a great way to end our holiday.

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