Sunday, 23 June 2013

Straight From The Books

If you have read Charmed Life by Dianna Wynne Jones, you will know exactly what Waddesdon is like without need of description; three floors of pure luxury set in grounds that stretch for miles.
Almost exactly what I imagine Chrestomanci Castle to look like.  

Built between 1874 and 1889 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, Waddesdon Manor is a treasure trove, with artworks by Gainsborough and Reynolds along with many others.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild collected 18th century French Art and Furnishings. One item in this collection is a writing desk that once belonged to Marie Antoinette.

A couple of weeks ago my Aunty and Uncle treated me and Mum to this lovely day out, and still, I am charmed by the likeness to the book.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Cream Teas and Quantum Theory

This lock, between the Oxford Canal and the River Thames, acts like a lift, 
helping narrowboats, and other small boats, to get up and down hill.
Mum and Dad lived very near here on a narrowboat named Ben. 
This lock side was their party place.

The Wednesday market in Gloucester Green has a wide array of fresh fruit and veg, meat, breads and pastries, cheeses, watches, clothing, and general brick-a-brack.

Cream tea at the Mitre is no ordinary cream tea; they use real clotted cream, as apposed to the whipped cream that most New Zealand cafes use. Delicious!

Christ Church College is part of Christ Church Cathedral, which is also Oxford's Cathedral.
This college is one of many that make up Oxford University. People come from all over the world to study and teach in Oxford. But you don't have to be a student to attend some lectures, like one on Quantum Theory that I when to with Mum.
These speakers:
Markus Aspelmeyer,
Vlatko Vadral,
Terry Rudolph,
presented us with an entertaining, interesting, and confusing lecture.
Light particles proved to be a little mischievous, and things started happening in two places at once. The biggest message that they put across at the end of the night was;
If you aren't completely confused by now, you don't understand Quantum Theory at all.

Most of us have read at least one book by C.S. Lewis, but not so many have seen his grave.  I felt very humbled, kneeling next to his tomb stone. One of the best known writers was once, and possibly still is, lying there, right in front of me in the cemetery of the
Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry.
We found it by accident, while looking for William Kimber's grave. 
William Kimber was the musician for the Headington Quarry Morris Men at the time
Cecil Sharp was collecting morris dances and tunes. Kimber played a big part in the recording of the music.

Speaking of Morris Dancing...
Icknield Way Morris Men dancing outside the Oxford Castle on Cry Havoc's Day of Dance
in celebration of '20 Years of Cry Havoc Morris'
There were many sides there that day, some of which Mum used to dance with herself, before she and Dad went back to New Zealand.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

My Arabian Adventure

Quarter past four in the morning, sleeping soundly in our beautiful hotel room in Dubai
(Arabian Courtyard Hotel, shown in the photo below).
Then the Muezzin start singing, right across the city, calling people to prayer.
They do this every morning and at intervals during the day, so it becomes less novel after a couple of days.

On our last morning the Muezzin sang as usual, but this time I particularly enjoyed hearing our closest one sing. He was very melodious and holding notes for quiet a long time, then adding a bit more on the end, all on the same breath. It was all wonderful.

Our hotel was in the old quarter, Bur Dubai, which grew up around an old fort that now houses the Dubai Museum. It was one of the most unique museums I have seen. Like I said, it was in the old fort, but there were also underground chambers, full of artifacts and interesting information.

As well as wandering around the streets of Bur Dubai, we crossed the Dubai Creek on a little boat to visit the Gold and Spice souks. 

We ate lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, flat bread, dips like hummus and mutabele, olives and sweet pastries along with New Zealand butter, We came all this way, and we get butter from home!