Tuesday, 24 June 2008


A whirlwind tour to the UK and then back to the lilypad. Being in Blighty was in a lot of ways a huge relief - for a country I've barely even set foot in before, it felt like home. Imperial leather soap, vending machines with recognisable lollies, poo-free streets, normal milk in normal sized coffee, people apologising when they bumped into me, people wearing colours on the tube....

I didn't realise how isolated I was really feeling in France until I caught myself on the tube spying over someone's shoulder to see if they were reading in English or French. It was English of course, and the rush of relief at the realisation that I didn't need to check anymore was a bit of a worry. I didn't realise until then that I've been doing that unconsciously in Paris in order to make the tiniest imagined connection with total strangers...weird hey?

I lugged all my luggage to Nhan's who will babysit it for me over the coming months. Another wave of relief at the idea that I won't have to drag it around anymore.

Most of the weekend was spent at Oxford. We wandered around the city a little, snuck into the Bodleian (wow. wow. wow.), ate gourmet student food at an outdoor cafe, drank warm beer on the river, took photos of skylines and gargoyles, toured Worcester and Magdalen colleges (saw the deerpark!), had a fryup breakfast, bought too many books at an inspiring bookshop, drank Coopers on the back lawn.

Friday night was the Worcester ball, which was lots of fun, yet different than I expected. Set in beautiful grounds and with men floating around in tails, that's about as far as my imagination got it right. It was more like a slightly damp Womad without all of the music - we spent the night outside tramping between different buildings and tents, on a beeline for the comedy, the chocolate fountain, the little casino with the jazz band, the beer, the pizza, the music, the 'ferris wheel', the bacon butties, the pimms, the henna, the icecream, the gladiators station, the portaloos, the dj & dancing, the cuppasoup, the colourfully lit trees, the strawberries and champagne. And at 6am, we went home exhausted and grubby.

I think Oxford must be a nice place to live. A city as well as a student town, small enough to walk everywhere but big enough to not feel stiffling, it's got beautiful old architecture yet green and trees everywhere. You can travel to the big smoke of London in an hour, or stay home and breathe the fresh air. The only less than beautiful bit is all the English people, who despite my fondess for them, it has to be said are just not as good-looking as their amphibian neighbours across the channel (nor despite embracing of colours do they dress to their advantage).

Sunday and Monday were spent in London, wandering around shopping, eating sushi and dumpling noodle soup and just chilling out at home, in the park or in the next door cafe. Possibly not the most efficient use of my 2 days visit, but I feel a lot better for having a bit of a break, and hopefully in August I'll have the energy to see a little more of the town.

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