28.08.2010 - 29.08.2010 19 °C
It was a bit of a grind getting to Oxford from York. After diverting to see the family connection with the stables of Castle Howard, it took rather longer than expected to get to Oxford. Mysterious road works (we never saw them) slowed traffic down to a crawl on some parts of the various motorways we travelled on. There is a tremendous network of motorways criss-crossing the country. Fortunately our GPS is able to correctly direct us to turn off and join various motorways with great accuracy. The only travel failure of the trip has been my inattention at some roundabouts, where I have mistakenly taken the wrong turn. Thankfully the GPS voice calmy says "turn around when you can" - if it was me navigating I'd be shouting "wrong way fool - don't turn here!" which would undoubtedly be bad for everyone's blood pressure.
We got to Oxford in time to join the Sanderson wedding party for a family dinner on the eve of Rosemary's wedding. They had just been to the rehearsal, and it was lovely to see them all again and join them for dinner. Caitlin & Finlay got to meet Gregory, their cousin (in his mid 20s) and reacquaint themselves with Uncle Michael, Aunty Judy and cousin Rosie. Michael cried on seeing us, probably reminded of Geoff. He set me off....
Our accommodation was a 2 bedroom apartment. Very comfortable. Oxford is a very beautiful city and it's so compact it's easy to find one's way around. Our early morning rambles took Caitlin and I past some of the colleges (Balliol, Magdalen, Nuffield, Trinity). We poked our noses through the gateways to see the enclosed courtyards. Also went to the Bridge of Sighs and past the Bodlein Library. Fabulous.
The wedding was in Keble College, where Rosemary's betrothed, James, studied. The service was in the college chapel. A very traditional service with hymns such as All Things Bright and Beautiful, and Jerusalem, but quite appropriate for the setting. Rosemary looked breathtakingly beautiful, in a simple greecian-inspired outfit and hair style to match. She's very slender and has a porcelain complexion, and she looked really stunning. From Keble College we walked the short distance through the streets to the wedding reception in the ballroom of a nice hotel in town. Never been part of a wedding procession before. It was fun. People stared at us in all our finery as we snaked through the streets. Fortunately the weather was kind to us. There had been rain the day before and the sun had come out on our arrival.
The excitement of it all got me quite tired and after all the speeches, the food and the cutting of the cake, we discretely left and made our way on foot back to our rooms. Caitlin & Fin seemed ready to leave too. Arrangements were just being made to remove the tables for the disco, so it seemed like a good time to leave.
All in all a very lovely day and so moving to see a couple very much in love and planning their future together. Geoff was very fond of Rosemary, so he would have been thrilled to have seen this if he could.
We had breakfast in town in the morning after the wedding. A bit of a challenge finding anywhere open at 8:30am on a Sunday. Even more challenging is the prospect of decent coffee. There is watery coffee by the bucket load. The only decent coffee is espresso, which comes in a thimble-sized cup (a taste and it's gone). I'm not really complaining - just reflecting how fortunate we are in Wellington with good cafes and restaurants.
We left Oxford this morning and have arrived in a small village called Hopwas, just outside of Birmingham. Staying at a B&B on a converted farm. The rooms we have were probably the stables. We have 3 horses outside our door, and it seems to be the time of day when they like to gallop up and down their paddock. I keep hearing thundering hooves and half expect to see a horse poke its head in the door to my room. It's one of those farm doors that can be split in half. I have the top half open and the bottom half shut. As with old buildings the ceilings are fairly low. Fin has bumped his head three times now. He'll learn!
We went to a pub for lunch when we arrived in Hopwas - called The Lazy Otter. A canal runs near to the pub, so after lunch we strolled along the path to see what was there. Canal boats moored nearby, and more canal boats sliding through the water silently. They go very slowly, as the canals are very narrow. Picked juicy fat blackberries and ate them as we walked. Lovely. This is quintessential England. I'm thrilled the kids like it. We picked apples from one of the farm trees and fed them to the three gamboling horses. They made the apples sound very crunchy, and they managed to be very slobbery about them as well. We gave them quite a few. From inside my room I saw one of the horses rolling around on its back with its legs in the air and I wondered if the apples might not have been such a good idea.
There's a small indoor pool here which the kids have gone off to examine. I'd better get over there with the camera. I haven't loaded any pictures onto this blog yet as I brought the wrong cables. Will see if I can pick up some more and then I'll try to punctuate this site with pictures. Have been taking heaps!