Verdict on The Turf (the Bill Clinton bar): pretty cool, but not life-changing. A former Prime Minister of Australia made his way into the Guinness book of world records by chugging a yard of ale (2 1/2 pints) in 11 seconds! It was also mentioned in Jude the Obscure, a novel I read for my 19th Centure English Novel course a few semesters back. Anyway, I had an Olde Trip Ale that was quite good, but again, not life-changing. I’ve decided to keep track of all the beer or ale I consume, and Abigail has decided to keep track of each pastry. You should see that girl go after a chocolate croissant. One interesting thing we’ve found about this area is that everything closes really early. The Turf closed at about 11:30. Some hostel friends (note: when said aloud, that sounds like “hostile friends”) led us to the pub, and it was fun to chat with them for a bit. Francisco (Chile), Darren (South Africa) and Luigi (Italy) were our friendly guides last night.

After the pub, we made our way back to the hostel. We crawled in bed for some wondrous, snuggly sleep with the window open and rain pattering on the deck outside. Sounds ideal, right? It was. Even with a snorer in our room, it couldn’t steal from the magic of being in Oxford. I settled into a great, fluffy pillow. I read a bit. I waited. I settled again. I waited. I re-settled. I let my mind wander. I fidgeted. I listened to music (a bit of Brothers by the Black Keys, The Suburbs by Arcade Fire [thanks to Matt Carney], Bethel Live, Mouths Like Trumpets by Brad Kilman, and even a bit of Patty Griffin [“Rain,” which made me miss Jenny and Amanda]). I lay wide-eyed until after 3 a.m. If you don’t know me too well, this is beyond abnormal. I usually fall asleep mid-sentence, or in some weird position on a couch or chair before I can get to my bed. I never have trouble falling asleep. So, naturally, I was frustrated. It finally crossed my mind that maybe I was picking up on a spirit of restlessness over the hostel. Judging from the conversations I had had with hostel friends (who really aren’t too hostile), and that some of these sojourners wander for months in search of self and truth, it made sense. So, I interceded for the travelers, and prayed over the hostel we’re in now (which I’ve really enjoyed. It has a really great family atmosphere.), for peace and rest for them. I immediately fell asleep afterward. You’d think by now I’d recognize something like that a little earlier. I just hope I never waste that much sleep again.

Today, Abigail and I tried to out-tourist ourselves, so we headed to the incredible Ashmolean Museum. If you ever find yourself in Oxford, go there. It may have been my favorite thing so far. They had exhibits from Ancient Greece to Japan after 1850 to Italian Renaissance (I saw a chess set from the 1400s! Incredible!) to Modern Art (I saw a Vincent van Gogh and Manet! Be jealous, Dad, be verrry jealus.) We ran around “ooh”ing in the Egyptian exhibit. I began turning my broken record then as well, “This is incredible!” Once we got to the European Music and Tapestry room, however, I lost my faithful museo-companion. I flitted about from case to case, gasping and giggling anew at each instrument while Abigail sat unimpressed on a bench. Let me tell you what I saw, and hopefully you’ll understand a bit. I saw a performance violin from 1638. I saw 2 incredibly detailed, beautiful harpsichords (my most exciting moment). I saw a Strativari violin called “The Messiah.” I saw an English guitar inlaid with fine ivory detail from over 400 years ago. I feel justified in the freak-out.

After our extended visit (thanks, Abigail) to the Ashmolean, we made our way to Christ Church and the Alice in Wonderland shop. I labored over whether to buy an Oxford shirt (to tap into my Letters mojo) for at least 10 minutes, and finally left the shop 15 minutes later with a shirt and mug (classic). We then stopped into a local cafe in search of tea and a pastry for Abigail and a Peroni Lager for me. It was alright, but my favorite this trip has been the Alpine Lager at Ye Olde Swiss Cottage.

Tomorrow, we make our way through gorgeous English and Wales countryside to Ireland. After several failed travel plans, we’ve finally finnagled our way onto a train and ferry. Expect another long post, I suppose. Cheers!


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