You know a place is special when the peacock-shaped garden ornament turns out to be an actual peacock. At first I think I’m seeing things, but on second glance I realize this is not a hallucination. There is actually a peacock sitting in the garden of my hotel in the Cotswolds.
It’s not every day you see a giant yellow chicken walking down the street in London. Or groups of people going from door to door trying to find it. In fact, I don’t think I ever even dreamed of such a thing until I started playing the One Giant Chicken game.
I have always had a strong connection to Alice in Wonderland. For starters, my mother’s name is Alice. As if that’s not enough, playing the role of Alice in the musical version when I was young made me an even bigger fan. But it wasn’t until I moved to London that I learned what a strong connection Alice herself had to one specific place: Oxford.
The British summer season is well underway. In the past month alone, we’ve had the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, and Wimbledon. And that’s to say nothing of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But my favorite event of the summer is the annual Henley Royal Regatta, a rowing extravaganza featuring teams from all over the world.
On Friday I celebrated my four year anniversary of living in London. Throughout my time here, I have made an effort to see as much of the country as I can. One way I have gone about it is to take day trips from London to other parts of England. I always do so independently, either by train or car. Until Saturday, that is. On Saturday GetYourGuide invited me to take an organized day trip from London to the Cotswolds, Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford.
It’s wedding season. This summer I have been invited to weddings in destinations as far flung as California, England, Indiana, and Washington. To that end, I traveled west on Friday to attend the nuptials of two good friends at their wedding in Oxford.
There’s nothing like a traditional English summer event to get me excited about celebrating American Independence Day. Actually, that’s completely untrue. But I do like traditional English events, and if one happens to fall on Fourth of July weekend, so be it. This year, like every year, the event happened to be the Henley Royal Regatta.
Continuing this week’s theme of UK travel, my boyfriend and I headed out to Oxfordshire yesterday. Last year a friend of mine had gone to Garsington Opera, an outdoor opera venue at a stately home near Oxford, and, knowing we need little convincing when it comes to adventures, she insisted we go this year.
Last Saturday was America’s birthday. Most years on the 4th of July I spend the day in a bathing suit by a lake and a grill. At night fireworks burst overhead as we recall our great war for independence. And while most Americans would have trouble telling you what year that great war started, most of them could eat a few burgers washed down with cheap American beer and sing a somewhat coherent version of the national anthem.
It’s graduation season. A few weeks ago I traveled back to Brown for my five year reunion, which took place on the same weekend as graduation. The following day my cousin graduated from Yale with a master’s degree. This weekend it was my good friend’s turn to graduate. She invited me and my mother, who is visiting from San Francisco, to attend the ceremony at Oxford.
Yesterday I took a day trip from London to Oxford to visit a friend that is studying there. It was my second trip to Oxford to see her (the last one being in the midst of a terrible snowstorm in 2003), so we had time to enjoy the town without feeling pressured to see and do everything.