brightlywoven: (harriet)
I spent most of July either in Australia or in a book. Besides which, let's face it, the weather in July this year was pretty rotten. So the August sunshine has been very well timed, and beloved and I have tried to make the most of it. Saturday afternoon we had a long ramble up the Thames to Port Meadow, across the Meadow (which is now dry in the centre!) to Walton Manor, through North Oxford to Parks. Here we found nothing so lovely to do as to lie in some dappled sunlight eating strawberries and listening to the obligingly rustle-y leaves of a nearby tree. Eventually the sun began to slip behind some clouds and we meandered home via G&Ds, where we acquired some mango sorbet.

As we walked along the river I was once more reminded about how often I'm inclined to play about on the river in something with oars. Don't get me wrong, punting is clearly the superior means by which to propel oneself up and down the Cherwell. However last year half a dozen of us took out some rowboats on Grassmere, and had a smashing time: I wanted to try it again. Maybe it's the excitement in Ratty's little speech I find so enticing:

'Nice? It's the only thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. 'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: 'messing - about - in - boats; messing - '

So today we went to Magdalen Bridge and DIDN'T take out a punt. We took out a little rowboat. First up we discovered the disadvantage of the rowboat:  you take up much more river width. So when the August Sunday afternoon has turned golden and glorious, and dozens of clueless tourists and summer students decide to try punting/rowing/peddaloes, you are rendered unable to manouvre, because they are in your oar space. However once we were south of the Botanic Gardens, the extra river width and the distance from the boathouse combined to give us much more freedom, and we rowed happily past Christ Church meadow, watching light glint off the water and making the meadow grasses glow. 

We had a midriver picnic of strawberries, pimm's and goat's cheese with crackers, and then braved the Thames! Then back up the Cherwell and home, this time taking the Hilda's branch, which was less crowded. exactlyhalf rowed most of the way our, and I rowed along the Thames and back. Combine this with today's gym visit and I'm beginning to feel my muscles creak. However after four months of driving every day and not having time to exercise, I'm enjoying the feeling of tired muscles and achey joints that signify I'm moving again.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (fire)
It's freezing!

It's just so cold in Oxford right now. Moreover it has kept on being cold, which I don't think happened the last few winters. Cold cold cold. Our downstairs neighbours' pipes are bursting, meaning that we have actually been instructed to keep all the radiators *on* (not just on 'don't freeze'). This means I can feel guilt-free about having them all on a low setting.

Oh jeebers it's cold.

end whinge
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (dodo)
After a fairly bad night's sleep (4 hours? Seriously?), I was cycling in to work this morning, listening to a Leonard Cohen tribute concert, and musing on how Nick Cave singing 'I'm your man' is probably one of the great moments in musical history (and how if I had to choose between Mr Cohen or Antony singing 'If it be your will' I would probably choose Antony, making it one of only two Leonard Cohen covers that I would choose over the original).[1]

Musing such muses I rode past many people in fluorescent yellow vests, then past some people in BioHazard suits with gas masks, past some police, and various official looking people. 'Well,' I reasoned, 'if I can't go up here someone will try and stop me.' When I got to the very top of the hill I saw the small sign 'exercise in progress'.

Which all goes to show how strong is the impulse to assume something is *not* my problem. If the apocalypse comes, someone better bleep me, because clearly, if left to my own devices, I will ignore it.

[1] Leonard Cohen concert is TOMORROW. Ask me how excited I am...
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (daffodils)
3 car trips down, maybe about 3 to go, although the majority of things seem to be in the new place.
Shanith the awesome is here carrying things indefatigably, and now we are about to have some yummy greek deli food to replenish us before tackling the second half of the kitchen.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (hand gesture)
There are things I freely admit This Country does far better than My Country. These include but are not limited to: spring, beer, architecture, meadows, summer evenings, rivers and river sports, pudding, water recycling and comedy.

There are however some things in which I think My Country could give This Country some lessons. I have previously listed coffee and brunch. To this I add beaches, voter enrollment, election night broadcasting and hospital communications systems. It would spark endless controversy if I added cricket[1] and tea[2], but they do rightly belong on this list.

Now I add exams. Honestly, this finals system is an effing travesty, which seems to in no useful way assess the intellectual achievements of very bright and hard working people. Those of you who are/have just/have previously suffered through it have much admiration from me. Can those of you now climbing the pole of academia not, like, fix it?

[1] Perhaps our teams could be more gracious, but we are still better at actually playing the game successfully, you know it's true ;)

[2] In My Country, this beverage does not come with a floaty layer of scum on top. I've been told this is at least partly due to Oxford water. I intend to investigate this further with the help of an antipodean friend currently holidaying up north.

OK, I make two qualifying concessions

1. Apparently English tea is only scummy if you live in a hard water area, and these do exist in Australia as well. (I knew mentioning tea would start a war!)

2. The abysmal exam system may be largely limited to Oxbridge. So that means it's only inflicted on a large number of the most academically inclined undergrads. Goody.
brightlywoven: (harriet)
Not going to be an effective day for me. I went to bed at 2 (after a fab evening with shanith watching Peter and Bunter and concocting a pavlova for some celebrations this afternoon, after which I tried to piece together this presentation for some Very Important Types at 8am, after which I tried to pack).

BUT in 2 hours I'll be heading into town to congratulate a triumphant finalist
AND THEN exactlyhalf and I are off to Paris for the weekend. After putting up with anxious, tired, grumpy and stressed out me in various doses for the last two months, he deserves it! With at least the next 12 months looking secure and enjoyable, this should be a weekend to enjoy.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (lalala)
I'm sure many of you know the song of The Wild Rover, and most of you in Oxford will know this has been adapted to The Wild Punter, telling tales of river exploits. Well, while strolling down the canal yesterday, exactlyhalf made me a gift of the following verse:

I've been a wild Bunter for many's the year
But I've changed all my ways now that Lord Peter's here.
He needs a good man since that hell that was War
So I never shall play the wild Bunter no more.

And it's no, nay, never,
No nay never no more
Will I play the wild Bunter,
No never, no more


We have now got 8 verses to our ditty, telling the much needed back story of Bunter. For those who don't know him, Bunter is valet to Lord Peter Wimsey, an man of immaculate presentation and utmost propriety. Our song tells of Bunter before the war, tales of wildness that begin with brandy drinking and stolen kisses, and end up with the buckling of swashes! It still needs some polishing, then we'll post it. It was wonderful to wander through the sunny evening composing verses about Bunter the poacher!

no punting

Apr. 19th, 2008 03:13 pm
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
sorry this message is later than 3pm, but hopefully no-one thought we would punt in this dismal weather.
brightlywoven: (harriet)

Jet lagged being awake at 6:30 *rules*

*goes to play in april snow*
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (daffodils)
A glorious weekend, in which I
- had a most bracing walk throug the ice puddles to Godstow lock, learning on the way that the Perch 'aims' to reopen in summer
- Finally saw Serenity, while enjoying Wife Soup. Yay River!
- Enjoyed defeating dracula (even if by the end I was getting impatient to start watching Serenity
- Went to the gym twice
- Got my meringue making mojo back just in time for the banquet (mmm, chocolate pavlova roll...)
- Made the most awesome lasagne ever (I roasted my own peppers! I bechameled the hell out of a sauce!)
- Enjoyed the above with just enough cider and wine and good company
- Learned (if you can stretch 'the weekend' to '1pm on Monday) there will be a new Tindersticks album. Album AND tour. Am giddy with glee over this.

Now, back to work!

ETA giddy glee slightly tempered by learning DH has left the group, which means I'll never see him sing 'sweet memory'. *small sob*
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
Last weekend it was my birfday! The night before I took part in an excursion to watch The Golden Compass. It was not a fabulous film, but I actually found it enjoyable enough. Although there were some odd stylistic and geographic decisions, there was no actual butchering in ways that could have upset me. (And it was fun to giggle everytime Lyra walked through Jordan/Exeter/Queens/All Souls/Christ Church/college mega-mix). It would seem my lowering of expectations worked for me.

In the spirit of this, we had a "Lyra's Oxford" themed birthday do the next afternoon. It was far too cold and rainy to go off in search of a narrow boat to pirate, but we *did* play 'Kids and Gobblers' - which became vaguely disturbing. I survived, along with 2 gobblers and another kid, who was sibling of one Gobbler. It was a stalemate: thwen wouldn't gobble me, because if he did elleblue and cealdis would throw him in the river.

So we had tea, and choclatl, and bear paw-print biscuits made by Freya_9. Also, there was best birthday cake ever!

Shanith you are a marvel!

(in case you are wondering: the three hands pointed at an hourglass, a book and a horse. I formed the question 'When will I know so much that I get a knighthood?' The answer hand is pointing at a spider web, clearly telling me to bide my time, like a spider waiting patiently in a web. Cool.)
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
Before heading to the OULES panto on Thursday - more puns that you could possibly imagine - our pre-panto dinner plans hit a snag, when we found Balliol hall closed. We decided to try Wagamama (noodle bar off Cornmarket) instead. Since we were now in something of a rush, we checked the meals should take about 10 minutes to arrived, and ordered. 25 minutes later, mine was yet to materialise, and I was getting edgy.

After explaining the situation to one of the waiting people (including the fact we had tried to ascertain this beforehand), she was very apologetic. 2 minutes later dinner (a coconut, lime, chilli and noodle soup) arrived. (exactlyhalf had had to leave by this point to set up a projector for Taruith) It was utterly delicious - full of fresh herbs and vegetables, but sadly I had to rush it. I went to pay, only to find my half of the dinner (which would have been good value at the listed £8) had been comped.

So I thought I should give the place a public recommendation. Not perhaps a place to choose if you are in a screaming hurry, but delicious and reasonably priced food, with quite nice managey people.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (fire)
Well, actually, it was below freezing, and it became one of those times it is made apparent to me I am living in a different country (not in a transported bubble of normality as I sometimes think). It looked frosty outside, so I cleverly remembered to take a big bottle of warmish water on the 5 minute trek to where my car is parked. Poured said water over frosted windshield and windows. Said water turned into a (thicker) layer of ice.

I ended up resorting to running the engine and heater while defrosting the glass with my hands, which were (ever so slightly) above freezing, until I could actually see.

I can envisage I'm going to have to invest in some sort of squidgee-scraper thingummy.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
On their recent visit, my in-laws gave us a National Geographic thermometer, which dangles out the window and gives a handy in/out reading. This morning the out read a mighty chilly 2 degrees. I anticipated - and experienced - a glorious cycle to work: frosted, misty meadow and fields, sun streaming through the mist and the filter of turning leaves. Nevertheless, I was loathe to leave the warm flat (22 degrees and the heating still not turned on!) for the morning.

For a rare experience, exactlyhalf was up to enjoy the dawn. Yesterday he rose when I did, but was disappointed that although the bbc predicted a clear morning, it was entirely overcast. I'm pretty sure today's outing will have yielded some pretty stunning pictures. Though I doubt I'll be awake late to read them. (These study goals are becoming onerous, and I forgot how tired-making it is to come home and study...)
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
I did a quick head count in the one calm moment when everyone was sitting for the play, and there were fully 60 people in the Bayne room! Suddenly, the plan to perform our reduced LOTR for a second time at short notice seemed perhaps unwise. More than one thespian looked a little pale...but, bless them, the people seemed to have fun. Our first rehearsal with the full cast that afternoon had been a little worrying, as our cues were long forgetten, and our pace sodden. However when we heard the first giggles, then roars, from the audience, there was a lot of grinning backstage. We had to pause for laughter to settle before delivering our lines! Most enthusiastic they seemed.

All in all, quite a success. Extra special hugs and thanks to cuiaalfheim, who journeyed far to reprise her stellar performance as Gandalf/Galadriel/The MC, and to freya_9, who did the lighting, and didn't complain once through two very chaotic rehearsals. Stars, both.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (daffodils)
It has become increasingly apparent that autumn is here, and so I am excited. The sunniness of the last few weeks has been accompanied by a delicious crispness, particularly in the morning air. The chestnuts have begun to change. I've never seen leaves shrivel on a tree so. Autumn was always my favourite season at home, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it amongst the many deciduous trees. This is exactlyhalf's first September in England too, and it is nice to experience a 'first' together.

We had a most autumnal weekend. It began with a very long walk on Saturday, and the gathering of conkers, for to string them and fight each other (and everyone else who might like to play). Sunday we enticed like-minded others out for a spot of autumn punting, which, with leaves falling on the Cherwell, and Magdalen radiant in the afternoon light, was simply delicious. There was also the playing of cards in a punt (appropriately, a game of 'up and down the river'). Then to a friend's home to conquer a difficult crossword over tea, and back to the Castle for gardener's pie (vegetarian shepherd's pie). There is something so comfortable about sitting in the lounge and reading, while dinner cooks in the oven and fills the room with good smells.

Other nice thing that happened was a chance to catch up with one of my old consultant's from Melbourne - The Very Clever Professor who recommended me to my current employers. He was in Oxford for a conference, and so we caught up for coffee, careers discussion and talk of Australian health care/politics.

All of which just about covers up my latent worry about what it will be like when the dark comes.

joy is...

Sep. 12th, 2007 04:08 pm
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (biscuit)
...Sitting in the Phoenix cinema watching the beautifully remastered Withnail and I, with friends and a packed giggling cinema. Oh so quotable a film, with so many glorious lines:
"Black puddings aren't going to help us! I want something's flesh!"
"We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now!"

And something I spotted for the first time?
Uncle Monty went to Balliol! The college crest is on the picture that 'I' finds in the Penrith House. Oh joy, oh rapture. This brings to 3 my list of fictional Balliol men:
- Uncle Monty ("as a youth, I used to weep in butchers shops")
- Sir Humphrey ("Politicians like to panic, they need activity. It is their substitute for achievement ")
- Lord Peter Wimsey ("We are mortified in nineteenth century gothic, lest, in our overweening Balliolity, we forget God")

What an awe-inspiring - dare I say it? - trinity! (Since threesome would have entirely the wrong connotation!)
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (daffodils)
You know you're in England when (number 452)
- You're at a party in early September, and suddenly everybody stands up and sings during Pomp and Circumstance (though they don't know the words)
- This is followed shortly after by everybody standing up and singing Jerusalem (and they do know the words - and some actions)
- Late comers arriving at this point ask 'why we're singing Jerusalem so early?' (not knowing that it's last night of the proms, but thinking that singing Jerusalem is perfectly normal behaviour later on in any party).

To be fair, the whole thing was more rousing than the Australian equivalent (singing Cold Chisel's 'Khe Shan' "Well the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone/ In under seven flying hours and I'll be landing in Hong Kong/ And there ain't nothing like the kisses/ Of a jaded chinese princess...")
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
I have a bod card!!!

Because some of my new job involves access to academic (university) rooms at the hospital, I have been signed up as a member of the university medical department, thus granting me a University/Bodlean card that doesn't expire till 2011! How cool am I? Today I plan to gratuitously visit several colleges...

(I also get a university email address, thus making me uber cool)

ETA: Mission successful. Exactlyhalf and I took 2 Melbourne friends in and out of many colleges for free, courtesy of having *two* bod cards ;)
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (biscuit)
You know it's your last chance to join the international frolicking and so....

Our man in Christ Church has booked the Bayne room for revelry from 8pm on Friday night - it's booked under the Taruith name. Here we can have some revelry before braving the bookshops. In a more ambitious time I had imagined games, snacks (themed, of course) and general merriment. The tragic reality is that I will be working right up until 8pm, and am due back in the salt mines at 8 the next morning. So I can't promise carefully planned merriment, but I'm pretty sure any ideas would be cheerfully entered into! (All those on holidays might have time to come up with some!)

Thanks to those who have indicated an intention to be there. Since it's out of term and many people are away, and since chief lembas maiden Tora and I will be making some snacks, it would be great to have a vague idea of numbers, but don't feel bound to commit, or unable to come without rsvp. (And if anyone wants to turn their hand to making cockroach clusters or fizzing whizbees, knock yourselves out!).

Oh, and if anyone has a cunning idea about how you mull mead without a stove or microwave, would love to hear it!

In summary - friday night, 8pm, Bayne Room till about 10, then onwards to the Book shops of Broad St.
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