Monday, November 29, 2010

Birmingham, Leamington Spa, Oxford

I am overly caffeinated and suffering from jetlag. I can't seem to get to sleep at a normal time, even though I only drink one cup of tea in the morning. I have made it through half of Jayne's copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows due to my inability to fall asleep. At least it's worthwhile!

I am currently in Leamington Spa with Jayne and Scott, and I will shortly be heading off to Oxford for a day of gallavanting and Tolkien before joining Jayne for dinner. But to backtrack...

On Friday in Birmingham, having slept through our Thanksgiving stupor, Jackie and I traipsed through B'ham to Cannon Hill Park. Despite the fact that the cold was biting our noses and fingers, we had a nice walk around the park. We watched the ducks slip and slide as they emerged on the now frozen sections of lake. I can imagine it in summer with picnics and music, kids and dogs running around, flowers and trees in bloom. It's not hard to imagine in these beautiful public spaces as the Brits sure know how to do gardens well.

We spent the evening at home making another fantastic meal before enjoying a film (2012) and some more chat. I'm sure all my friends are getting tired of my incessant questions and need to hear about everything in their life. Like my brothers, they seem to tolerate this particular character flaw :)

On Saturday, Jackie kindly took me to the train station where I went south to Leamington Spa to meet Jayne and Scott. A quick and gorgeous train ride as everything is covered in the first snow of the year. It's beautiful but brrrrrrr.

Jayne and Scott flew into the car park, picked me up, and we flew home to a cup of tea and a warm house. Besides seeing my brothers so happily coupled, seeing my good friends so happy is the next best thing. I haven't met Scott, and I'm so thrilled to finally get to know him, to see how happy he makes Jayne and vice versa.

We had a lovely Saturday with cups of tea, trips to the grocery store, and a great little walk around Leamington Spa--which included the pub where J & S met, the pump rooms, the church, the town hall with a town crier in costume (he obliged me with a photo). A cute town with all the things that make it truly English: the promenade, the church, the cute bridges, the pump room, etc. Scott chose some absolutely wonderful wine, and we chatted and ate a delicious meal.

On Sunday, Jayne and I went into Oxford to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at the Ashmolean Museum. Since it's closed on Mondays, it was Sunday or never. Since this is my favorite artistic movement, I was in heaven (as was Jayne). What a great exhibit, though crowded. Artists I've never heard of, artists I love. Rossetti, Burne-Jones. Really lovely. At the end of the exhibit, we both had reached our museum limit, so we didn't meander through the rest of the museum.

We then went for a meander and lunch before heading back to Leamington. Oxford was busy and crowded, people out for a Sunday stroll or holiday presents. It's been 11 years since I've been here with my Nottingham Lenton & Wortley Hall friends, so it's been awhile.

Sunday night was a great quiet evening at home with Jayne & Scott. I really just love being in everyone's homes with them, to experience the normal stuff. It's what a miss most of the time.

So, I'm off to hunt down some Tolkien history in Oxford if I can keep warm enough. It looks brutally cold out there. No blue sky today! I'm sure I can manage with some long underwear :)

Love to you all.

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