Monday, 9 March 2009

Oxford #2

The final instalment of our Birthday Weekend in Oxford.

Off we trotted to the Botanical Gardens on Sunday morning with a lovely walk in the beautiful sunshine to get there. Lola and D are big fans of Botanical Gardens. This time I was a little more reluctant but I had a lovely time, starting in the small hothouse with an ENORMOUS jasmine. The smell was over-powering but absolutely beautiful and hard to leave. Plus there was a little display with free little chocolates that Lola and I felt would be rude to refuse.

D can name plants like you wouldn’t believe and we spent some time happily wandering around the sparse plants. That was the moment when we had the annual “WHY DID YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BIRTHDAY IN FEBRUARY!!!” And my customary reply was repeated for the hundredth time; “I’m afraid you will have to take that up with my parents”.

Tolkien's TreeJRR Tolkien (1892-1973) and CS Lewis (1898-1963) were both professors at Oxford University, and friends too. The Botanical Gardens have ‘Tolkien’s favourite tree’ and it was truly spectacular.

The Natural History museum was beautiful. Very well-spaced exhibits and perfectly presented cabinets with just the right amount of information. Lots of natural light and, best of all, an exhibit showing the relative hardness of natural substances.

Beneath each mineral was an everyday item, comparable in hardness - a penny, a steel knife and, our favourite, a plaster cast finger. We think it was probably the nail of the finger that was being used for comparison of hardness, but it was fun nonetheless to watch a little girl passing by, exclaiming “a finger, how strange”.

A café visit before hometime and a wise decision by Lola not to make a repeat order of the large hot milk with vanilla syrup, requested the previous day. It was presented in the largest cup imaginable, more like a goblet. For some reason she objected to the sensation of something equitable to the Atlantic sea slopping around her insides afterwards. She wisely went for the mint tea and then home we all went.

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