Friday, 2 April 2010

Day trip to Oxford

I had a mini-holiday this week, because now that term has ended I can afford to take a little time off for myself.

Tall building behind Oxford station signThe main reason for the trip was to go to the Oxford University Press Bookshop. As a member of the Biosciences Panel for OUP, I have accrued some book credits by doing tasks such as reviewing books, commenting on potential designs for book covers and circulating notices at the university. I'm not entirely sure how much I have to spend, but it could be £150. Unfortunately, none of my key textbooks is published by OUP, and browsing the online catalogue is fairly unsatisfactory - I want to pick up a book, browse a few pages, see how it reads. Hence the trip to Oxford, which is only 40 minutes away by train.

Apart from the bookshop, my advance research centred around where I would eat lunch. Our very favourite tiny Japanese restaurant in Oxford was closed for Easter! I seriously considered putting off the trip until it re-opened, but I thought it would probably disrupt my revision if I waited until later in the month. My other advance research was around what might be on at the cinema - not that we don't have cinemas here in Leamington, but I rightly thought I might get tired of shopping very quickly indeed, and I didn't feel like taking in any culture after the brain-strain of such a hard term at university. In the event, neither lunch nor cinema turned out as planned.

The first stop I made on arrival was a handy Oriental supermarket, very near the station. I can't resist. Impulse purchase this time: four different sorts of seaweed snacks.

Front view of OUP bookshopMoving on to the bookshop, I spent a happy hour or more browsing the stock, and now I have a list of possibilities for my book credits. This left me with only a little time before the cinema - not enough to have a leisurely lunch - so I decided to have a snack and eat properly later, after the film. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken account of school holidays, and the cinema was besieged with under-10s. I balked at the thought of having my seat back kicked for 90 minutes, but after my snack, I wasn't ready for the leisurely lunch I'd planned. So I bought a chocolate éclair as a treat dessert and tried to go shopping instead.

Shop escalatorWhat can I say? I failed. I really don't like shopping. I almost bought a coat - it was reduced in price because of a split seam (which I could have repaired without any difficulty), and it probably fitted OK. I just lost confidence at the last minute and couldn't go through with it. After that I sat in the department store café with a cup of tea, reading the magazines I'd brought to read on the train, and texting Lola II about how I can't do clothes shopping without remedial shopping support, and whether she wants a haircut in Leamington when she visits.

Yes, the great news is that Lola II will be visiting for a couple of days, which guarantees some good times, extensive use of catchphrases, and heavy focus on good food.

Anyway, that pretty much brought my day trip to an end, and I walked back to the station with my Japanese snacks and a mixed sense of freedom at not having to do any work for a day, and despair at my inability to buy a coat, again. It doesn't help that I need to lose a good deal of weight to fit back into the clothes that I have - the thought of replacing my wardrobe with larger sizes fills me with horror. So perhaps it was a good thing that the leisurely lunch was replaced with a snack, even if it did come with a chocolate éclair.

Sign at Leamington Spa railway station


aims said...

Oh my friend. Having sold coats for 30 years I could have had you into what was best for you and looked great too. Sigh.

What a great day off anyway. The freedom of wandering and doing what you wanted even though it didn't fit into any plans. Sometimes that's best for the brain.

Anonymous said...

It actually sounds like a very nice day out - a train journey, a book shop, a leisurely lunch (I am leaving out the choc eclair and the coat). Days like that recharge the brain. PS how did you get to be a book reviewer for the OUP? I am envious!

Lola said...

@aims: I would defy you to find me a coat that fits bust, shoulders and arms at the same time. If it fits round the bust then the shoulders are too wide and arms too long; if the shoulders and arms are right then it definitely won't button up.

@Studentmum: an email came round at university asking for volunteers, so I volunteered. It's specifically a Biosciences panel, and I've only been asked to review 2 books so far. The OUP is a pretty academic publisher, and I'm not particularly interested in Oxford Companions to this and that, so I actually had some difficulty finding books in the bookshop that were lowbrow enough!