London, Day 4

Well, I basically got no sleep. At 11 I was in bed but didn’t feel tired, and lay there, tossing and turning, till about 3. Then from 3 to 5, I kept waking up every 20 minutes. The instant coffee and Beard Papa made me feel only slightly better.

A bunch of us met in the lobby and walked to the bus stop, which took a good half hour. It was cool though to see Oxford Street, normally teeming with people, completely empty. It took us a little bit to find our bus, but soon we spotted some other classmates and the Dean, and the bus came rolling in.

The ride was so peaceful. Everyone was quiet, listening to music or reading the paper. I enjoyed the time to myself and being able to take in the scenery, from the different streets in London, to the little towns and suburbs, to the rolling green lawns with cows, horses, and sheep.

Oxford is a really interesting city. You feel like you’re walking through medieval times. There’s nothing in the U.S. like it. Yale is designed in a medieval way, but it’s just a design.

First stop, coffee of course! I got a mocha and despite the custard cream puff, was starving and I got an almond croissant, which was absolutely delicious by the way.

Next we walked to Oxford University Press (OUP). Part of the outside retains that old look, but the rest is very modern. I couldn’t get over how big it is, especially compared to the 2 or 3 floors of the New York office. There were a couple of cafes, and good-sized dining area.

The lectures were pretty good. The most interesting one to me was the revamp of the online OED and ODNB since I studied at least the OED fairly in-depth for one of my classes, and I’m always interested in how online tools are marketed. I have to say the last presentation was a snooze. The content was interesting, but the woman’s delivery was a total monotone. Plus I was so tired, hungry, and bummed that we wouldn’t be doing the OUP Museum tour because the guide was a no show. Lame.

At least lunch was free. I made a bad choice though: ham and chicken pie. I thought there’d be vegetables in the pie, like peas, carrots, and onions, but there were not. So the side of fries didn’t help. Later one of my classmates got sick from the quiche she had, though another woman had it too and was fine.

Afterwards we walked through town and stopped at this pub, The Eagle and the Child. Apparently C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein used to hang out there and dubbed it The Bird and the Baby. I kept asking people what the significance of the eagle and the child was. I had seen a statue of it at Queen Mary’s Park. No one knew. Finally, one of my classmates pointed out an explanation on the menu: the eagle and child are on the Queen’s crest.

I didn’t drink anything since I was so sleepy, and just sat there while everyone else drank. Afterwards we walked more, and stopped at yet another pub, The White Horse Tavern, I think. The sick-off-the-quiche girl and I weren’t interested so we ran across the street and checked out this free museum on THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE. Tall order. It was basically a random conglomeration of compasses, calculators, globes, bones, and early electric stuff. But hey it was free.

Our next stop was the Bodleian Library, where a the head of collection development talked about the complex Oxford University library system, further complicated by licensing of e-resources. She was a very good speaker – smart, amusing, and self-deprecating.

Next was a tour of the library at the New College.

The campus itself is very pretty. We didn’t actually see a lot of the library. Mainly the librarian showed us these extremely old books. One was an enormous Bible, and the other a book in medieval French with gold gild. It was cool to see those books up close and to actually be able to touch them.

Finally, Anthony, the guy who runs the program, showed us more around campus. There was a very nice garden, which we strolled through in the rain, and the dining hall, which looked like something out of Harry Potter: long wooden tables with place settings, surrounded by giant portraits of stern-looking old men.

Most of my classmates stayed in Oxford to check out the Blackwell’s bookstore and maybe try out another pub. The Dean and three of us lightweights headed back. I had thought about staying but was so exhausted. Sure enough, I promptly fell asleep on the bus for a good hour. By the time we got back to London, I felt more energized and decided to walk back to the dorm from Marble Arch, rather than take the subway.

I’ve been looking for dark-colored Keds all summer. For some reason, New York just doesn’t seem to have them. Where do I find them? In a store called Schuh on Oxford Street. I don’t even know how to pronounce the store name. I got black Keds for 26 pounds, which is a bit pricey, but I think that’s how Keds are.

I ate sooo badly today. Let’s recap:

• Breakfast: instant coffee and Beard Papa custard cream puff
• Breakfast 2: mocha and almond croissant
• Lunch: chicken and ham pie, french fries, diet Coke (NO vegetables)
• Pre-bus snack: 2/3 of sausage roll
• Dinner: yogurt and nacho chips

I kind of want some tea but also feel too lazy to go back out.

Tomorrow is a mellow day of lectures in the morning and a tour of the British Library in the afternoon. I think we end early, around 3:30. I may check out the National Gallery.

All Day 4 pictures.


  1. Are you going to have anytime to go running at all? Not that I’m saying you need to do it, but it seems to be such a part of your daily life.

    • i was planning on running – brought sneakers and workout clothes – but i doubt i’ll make the time. i’ve been dashing out after lectures every day to take in the sights. might as well take advantage while i’m here! and i’ve been walking so much and not eating as much, so i feel like i’m in pretty good shape.

  2. It’s always my crying shame – especially when my suitcase ends up being too full to zip up – when I’ve brought running gear that I didn’t end up using. I wouldn’t know where to run outdoors in London – it just doesn’t seem like it’s done, not part of the culture. It would be more for a “Look, I ran in London!” than to keep in shape – you’re touristing enough to ensure that.