We are in Oxford, England where Kristi is teaching for the third year at Oxford Summer School. She is teaching “I am a Woman Who” an altered fabric book, and “It’s All Inside: A Toolkit for Creativity.” She loves the long 3 day courses allowing her to really work with her students.
I have been tagging along with her these past years, so I know this city pretty well by now. It is a beautiful place, and the colleges are amazing in their variety. I have hundreds of photos of the absolutely drop
dead gorgeous quads and squares and cozy little spaces in the different colleges. The city is absolutely aswarm with tourists. It feels like a museum, like Old Sturbridge Village, where I used to work. This is not my cup of tea, but I know the town well enough to be able to skirt all the tourists who gather like bees to honey in the very center.
But here is what I absolutely adore about Oxford. We stay south of downtown in a fantastic neighborhood. It is a working class place with street after street of adorable row houses. The ones lining the main roads are bigger and fancier. The ones away from these roads are varied levels of smaller and humbler. Yet they have wonderful details and the small front gardens are gorgeous. So the architecture and human scale are embracing and pleasant.
Then there is the amazing diversity. The number of languages spoken in our neighborhood, the different colors of people and native garb is fabulous. And of course there is a match in the different types of foods offered. We ate at a Nepalese restaurant last night. Kristi, who’s Dad raised sheep in Colorado said she has never had better lamb. I, growing up with Middle Eastern roots and eating rice all my life, have never had a better dish of rice then the one I had flavored with turmeric, saffron, mustard seeds, sauteed curry leaves and God knows what else he didn’t tell us about.
You just can’t find this kind of diversity in the US unless you are in a very big
city. Oxford is a small city. It really is such a treat to be here.
Ok, last thing I love is the pubs. We read coming over that 3 pubs a day close in England. I hate that, because they are such a piece of this country and such a wonderful institution, if you can call them that. There are many left in Oxford. They are warm, cozy, friendly places full of fun people. We have found one in our neighborhood that you wouldn’t know is there unless you lived in the neighborhood. It is the lone commercial building among blocks and blocks of row houses. We were in Saturday night
and it was poker night. Tables of poker being played. This pub has a playground in the back and big yard for kids. It is so clearly a neighborhood place to gather. This weekend they are celebrating their birthday with 16 varieties of ales and ciders, and activities for the entire family. I just love it, and we plan to attend!
This is one of the joys of travel. You experience new things, get insights you normally don’t have. For us, seeing Oxford reminds us to live life richly, to embrace your neighbors no matter their color or origin. It is about being human together. Wonderful lessons to be had here, and, we believe, on our Adventures in Italy trips. Cheers!