It has been nearly 72 hours since I decided that the tube of hydrocortisone in my shaving kit was a travel size tube of Crest toothpaste. I must admit that it took about 6 seconds of vigorous brushing before the shock kicked in.
The taste was not as I recalled and the immediate sensation of being sick to my stomach was not as per usual either. I looked down to the bathroom counter and to my horror it all became clear. The label says for external use only, so thats a problem right off the bat.
When in Britain one must keep a stiff upper lip and “Never Surrender”. I am just hopeful to have an upper lip when I wake up tomorrow, stiff or otherwise. So as I sit knocking out today’s blog I can say that no matter what I eat or what I drink tastes like hydrocortisone. OK, moving on. Today is Saturday but not just any Saturday in Oxford’s calendar. This afternoon is the annual Boat Race as Oxford Universty rows against Cambridge on the Thames for the 163rd consecutive year. This sporting event is rumoured to bring out sometimes close to a million fans along the banks of London’s famous murky river.
We hummed and hawed over what we should do. Should we brave the crowds and take the train into the city from Oxford or put together a hotel room picnic complete with Pimm’s on ice. No brainer, we have to be up at 04:30 tomorrow to get the rental car back and check in for our return journey to Seattle. So there we have it. We are half an hour from the starter’s gun and we are watching on BBC 1 with a picnic at the ready.
The last couple of days here in Oxford have been marvellous. West Oxfordshire is a veritable cornucopia of beautiful villages. Every cottage made of stone and so many of those with Thatched roofs. It is a story book location that takes you to a place that reminds me of every book that I have read about World War II and the RAF. The only thing that gives away the period change is the modern cars that speed along the country roads and most cottages are now adorned with ugly and seemingly out of place satellite dishes.
The accents of the locals here are drastically different to the ones of the northerners that we spent time with last week. Most locals sound very polished and some may even say posh. I know that how one speaks is not an indication of their socio-economic status but I just imagine every person we have spoken to in the local pubs leave refreshed, hop in their Bentley amd retire to their stately home in understated yet epic fashion.
Yesterday we wandered the streets of Oxford proper in the morning and as such we had the good fortune of attending the Oxford book fair. Later I stood by to watch a group of academics and their supporters gather in front of the Sheldonian Theatre to protest yet again Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. I know that it was a very close race at the time of the vote. Now it has come to light that the same company that worked with Facebook to data mine over 50.000,000 peoples profiles for the Trump campaign were also in the employ of the Brexiteers. Cambridge Analytica were crucial in helping to design a campaign filled with fear mongering to help sway the vote that may have gone the other way if not for their efforts.
We left the university and drove to the Trout Inn in Wolvercote for lunch. We sat riverside at a lock that serves as the beginning of Thames and where it begins to wind its way into Oxford and then downstream to London. Lunch was amazing and I would put the Trout on my must return to list without hesitation.
After lunch we decided that we should try to find some of the most quaint villages we could, so we drove on to Chipping Norton. I met a fella on the street there who put us on to (as he described) the most picturesque village of them all. He said you have to go and see Lower Slaughter. Not a better name for a crime novel but as we drove into the tiny village your breath is taken away by the picture postcard setting. I suggest that if you are at all interested please search google images for this village. I do not have the vocabulary to do it justice.
After a few more hours in the country we eventually wound our way back to the hotel and the drive was spectacular. We stopped in the hotel bar on the way to our room for a couple of local pints. Job done and to bed for an early morning set aside for souvenir shopping.
I could go on and on but I am drawn to the television now. The women’s race is on and Cambridge is several boat lengths ahead. I do not want to miss the rest of the afternoon’s excitement so I bid you farewell. Tomorrow is for home and to reconnect with family.
p.s. Cambridge was victorious in all 4 races this afternoon.