Wednesday, July 7, 2010

a stroll next to the Thames?

today was sunday. The 4th of July. Somehow, I always manage to spend my holidays out of the country. First Thanksgiving, then Easter, and now Forth of July. Not that it matters, of course, I'd always rather be traveling. Unless it involves family of course, then I'd like to stay. What did we do today, you may ask? We went on a lonnnnng walk up the Thames to a town calledTo the town of Wythem today. Perhaps it’s spelled “Wytham” I actually don’t know at this moment. Our walk was simply lovely. We walked up the Thames to the town and then back. No, it was not that simple and there was plenty to see. About a meter beyond the train station the path split off into the bushes next to the Thames. Everything here seems to be in the bushes, I’m surprised everyone knows where they are going, signs are often quite obscured by overgrown vines and large flowers with winding stems, as these were. We wandered along this path and I could feel the ticks reaching towards my bare lower legs with their sticking legs, getting ready to take up temporary residence in my pale skin. We had not been walking long when I felt compelled to whip out my camera and take photographs. Everything here seems to be in bloom! Perhaps flowers prefer cool weather such as this and that is why flowers in the US are not so vibrant and overgrown as they are here. These flowers grew into the path, their petals brushing against my arm as I walked past, as if taunting me to stop to smell them, holding up our line of intrepid travelers. I also have the idea that, unlike Northampton, pedestrians are not in the right of way here. A person on their own two feet should be ready at any moment to be side swiped by a bicycle or a double-decker bus careening around the corner or the cobbled streets. Bikes do not slow down and paths such as the one we walked are not meant for walkers alone. It did not take me long for this to all become clear, of course, after I had nearly been run down by some bikers early in the walk. To our right was the Thames and to our left were shrubs upon shrubs and vines upon vines. I wish I were an adequate photographer because I cannot seem to do flowers justice when I photograph them. Alas.  I could picture meandering this path, parasol in hand, with my suitor of the afternoon, in Jane Austen’s time. As we went over a bridge, much like the one featured in Monet’s garden, the Thames came to be on our right and stretched out across the fields beyond. Geese dotted the water and soon filled it. As we came to a clearing of trees by a beach, the geese seemed to get into formation, as if attempting to cover the entirety of the water’s surface with their gray-feathered bodies. They looked expectantly at us, as if waiting to have their picture taken. I was only too happy to oblige. Geese and plants were not the only features of our walk, oh no. Canal boats painted bright colors lined the sides and I could not help but imagining living in a boat like them and fishing for my meals….not that I eat fish. The boats painted the picture bright with their bold, blocky colors and I was tempted to become a painter in an instant to capture their picturesque qualities. Along the Thames rowed groups in rowboats and two white-bearded men in a small sailboat, hauling themselves in to shore. Their white beards were grown out just so, giving one the image of a typical fisherman, such as the one in Tintin. They even matched!
Wytham was not anything to look at, really. Thatched roofs thickly covered the houses that were surrounded by walls that contained-but just barely-vivid flower gardens and roses climbing on every vertical structure. Yes, I am certain that the lack of constant sun and beating heat causes flowers to thrive here. I have never seen anything so beautifully and messily alive in the US.
I was exhausted when we returned and took to my bed at a rapid pace, to sleep until dinner, which was a BBQ on the back garden lawn. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been craving corn! Corn they did have, which was wonderful indeed. On the cob, however, is the only acceptable and delicious way to eat the vegetable, in my opinion. Oxford is simply beautiful, I cannot explain how it feels to be among the buildings that I looked at so many times on the internet in attempts to gain some sort of understanding of how I would feel when I got there. I am here now, I look out my window now and see the yellowed stone opposite me that belongs to the other half of our U-shaped building.
Speaking of our building, how could it not remind anyone of Harry Potter? When we live on staircases, as they did, and our bathroom is located in a dungeon? Classes begin tomorrow, I am tentative about my History of the English Language class, as I did not think of taking it initially but was rather placed there, but I will certainly give it a try; the textbook has been interesting (albeit DENSE) thus far.
OH! I forgot to mention that I joined the public library. Perhaps I did mention it, but the action merits mention a number of time over because it is the most wonderfully exhilarating fulfillment of a hope that I have had in a long time. What a friendly staff as well. Most people here tend to be friendly, actually. More to come, I plan to go tomorrow to take out a Jane Austen book. Just one, I don’t want to overdo it. 


  1. A library card from the public library in Oxford!! How fabulous is that!! Loved your description of the verdant countryside. Thanks!

  2. Ah- At last!! I have checked your blog every day and today I found, and loved, your account of the walk near the Thames. We went to SPAC Wed/ night to see Midsummer Nights Dream and it was wonderful. The newspaper review called it magical and I have to agree. The audience was full of children of all ages. Some were barely able to walk/ I guess they were siblings of the children who played sprites etc. Those were very talented children and danced with grace and precision. Love from Mimaw

  3. I auditioned for it one year and didn't get in. thank goodness I can write!