Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Eights


After our long haul to Stratford, Saturday came with the promise of late mornings and relaxing afternoons. We slept until 11:30 so I guess we were still getting over the effects of jet lag. Jenni and I have been having a bit of trouble waking up on time because we never hear our alarms! Hopefully that will straighten out in the next few days. Once we finally rose from our slumber we decided to go eat lunch. We stopped to eat at a little restaurant called Ask Italian. Little did we know, what good fortune was about to befall Jade. The manager seated us at our table and we simply thought that he was being friendly. Well, when the waitress brought the check she brought another little surprise along. The note was for Jade and went something along the lines of "Jared, blonde manager, would like to take you out sometime if you are single :)." Literally five minutes before, Jade had mentioned how she wished that she could marry a British man and have blond hair blue-eyed babies. Jared had blonde hair. And blue eyes. Serendipitous.
After our eventful lunch we went to do what us girls do!! On this shopping trip we found the godfather of all department stores. MARK AND SPENCER'S. I'm talking this place had a three story clothes department, cosmetic area, coffee shop, bank, and grocery store! I think I might be cheating on Target. Afterward I had my awkward experience where a young guy followed us into the store, proceeded to have a one-sided conversation with me about shoes and his mom's birthday, got tongue-tied, and turned around. Poor thing, he was trying so hard to start a conversation but it just didn't work. Anyway, it made for a great story and is even better to tell in person, so ask me when I'm back in the states. 

Later on that day we went to the Summer Eights, which is a rowing competition between the 38 colleges of Oxford. Steven tried to explain the process of "bumping" to me but I still don't really understand it that well. Basically, the boats are lined up in a row and as they paddle down the river they try to literally bump the other boats in front of them. The boat that comes out in front is the winner and thus advances to the next day. At least that's how I think it works. 
This is a picture of Mary Lowry and I in front of one of the college boathouses. The students stand up on top of the boathouses and cheer on their respective colleges. It can be compared to a high class tailgating event and everyone looks as if they are dressed for a summer in the Hamptons. We tried to fit in as best we could. One of the highlights of the Eights was the drink of choice, "Pimm's". It's a summer drink, and the British REALLY like it here. And so did we! It tastes like lemonade and sweet tea and a bit of alcohol. Oh, and remember how I said that the Brits are more reserved than we are? WRONG. After the last race we heard shouts of joy and laughter coming from behind us. We went to see what all the fuss was about and people were stripping down to their knickers and swinging into the ice cold river. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure the PDA here is even worse than in the states. 
After the Eights we went to a famous little pub near the Bod called The Turf Tavern. It was absolutely swamped with people, but the food was worth the wait. 
This picture was too good not to post. Wonder if Bill knows it's here?

We woke up for church Sunday morning and attempted to go to New Road Baptist Church and found that it was having a combined service with Wesley Memorial Church. Surprisingly, it wasn't that different from church back home. I was expecting angelic voices and long sermons, but it was short and to the point. The priest pointed us to a restaurant down the road called "The Nosebag." This should have been our first inclination to STAY AWAY. It's cheap prices and small crowd drew us in, but little did we know what we were in for. Jenni, Steven, and I ordered the quiche with three side salads. And everything was ice cold. One of my salads was raw potatoes mixed with mayonnaise. Straight up mayo. Don't get me wrong, I'm a mayo fan, but using it for a sauce to mix my potatoes in?? Our only saving grace was our tiny cup of fruit. 

Later on that afternoon I tagged along with Jenni and Jade and sat by the river to read Surprised by Joy while they went for a run. And what did we wear? Nike shorts and a t-shirt! It was one of our first really beautiful days, and at that point we didn't care that we were screaming "Look at us we're Americans!" from head to toe.  
That night will go down in history as one of the coolest experiences I've ever had: eating in the Great Hall at Christ Church! Aka the dining hall in the Harry Potter movies! We even had to wear black robes to signify that we were students. It looked very much like the one in the movie except much smaller, and the portraits sadly didn't move. The ceilings were extremely high, the tables long with dimly lit lamps, and the walls were covered with massive paintings of chancellors and deans from hundreds of years past.We were served a seated three course meal consisting of tomato soup, roast, cabbage, and potatoes and a pear/summer berry crumble. Needless to say, we were spoiled rotten!

Afterwards our international liaison named Georgia took us to a nice little pub called Chequers where we exchanged stories and enjoyed one anothers company. She was just as eager to learn about American life as we were to learn all about the ways of a true Oxford student. 

Here are a few pics from our first night in the Great Hall

I know I know, cheesy Chi O pic but it isn't every day that you get to eat in the Great Hall!

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