Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Day 29 – Wednesday, May 23rd

This was our day to get ready for our Yorkshire trip so we spent much of the time washing clothes, buying supplies and picking up our rental car. We walked to the rental company to pick up the car (a Toyota RAV 4) and thought that we had planned out how to get back to Merton Street. There are MANY, MANY one way streets in Oxford and it is very hard to drive there. After repeating our mantra….stay to the left….stay to the left, we headed onto the street with Michael driving and me navigating. Even with out planning, we still had to guess where a couple of the intersections were as the street names change almost every block. We thought that we were home free when we turned onto High street, just about 3 blocks from Merton Street. However, we saw a sign that said “ROAD RESTRICTION” (only buses and taxis were allowed on the road during certain times of the day). Since we didn’t see it until the last minute and since we weren’t really sure what the restrictions were, we just kept on going (with the buses and taxis) and decided to play dumb if we got caught. Actually, we would not have had to play!!! We were very happy to park the car in our Merton parking lot and leave it there for the rest of the day. I immediately walked to a local bookstore and bought a detailed Britain map to help us on our longer trip.

As I was walking back from the shops, I kept seeing people carrying helium balloons, so I asked one of the girls what was up. She said that the English final year students were currently taking their last exams and that the celebration was for them. For about the next hour we heard cheering, clapping and laughing as each of the students emerged from their exam session. Various groups of students would walk past our window with one of them wearing their gown (which they have to wear for exams), leis around their necks, crowns, fuzzy animal ears, wings, halos and other crazy things. Most were either drinking or being sprayed with Champaign and some were sporting silly string, spray whipped cream or flour.

Michael was scheduled to give his talk to the Merton College scientists at 5:00 pm so we got dressed up and headed over for the evening. After his wonderful talk, we sipped wine and then dined at Head Table. The meal was much more simple than the ones served on Sunday nights. We had Garlic and Ginger Scallops for the appetizer and roast beef with mushrooms, rice pilaf and asparagus for the main course. Dessert was fresh fruit salad with cream. After dinner, we walked to the Warden’s house and had coffee with she and 7 other scientists. It was a fun time but we were glad to get back to our house that night.

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