At this point, months into my trip I was bewildered most of the time. It was just unreal everything I was seeing and experiencing. I felt overwhelmed and still not sure what to do or where to go.
The only thing I knew was winter is coming and I did not pack for that. I had a hoodie that worked well so far but it was soon to become real cold. Freezing.
Had I been really adventurous I would have flown to Morocco. I investigated going when I had a week off in Barcelona.
I was chasing the sun at this point, trying to stay warm if I could.
The weather wasn’t too much better where I was heading next, Oxford.
The college was certainly a draw, the writers who taught and lived there: CS Lewis, JRRRR Tolkien, radiohead… Yeah I pretty much went to see what the area that radiohead lived looked like.
I’d been listening to radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool literally the entire summer. It is a great record but can be a bit depressing. It’s a good listen on an overcast or rainy day. As is Kid A, that is my go to rainy day record.
I didn’t have time for coffee and a meal before I left so I had some of the instant coffee with sugar at the hostel before I left.
At some point the night before I decided I needed to have fish n chips here, to complete my UK fish and chips experience. I’d had the meal in England, Scotland, Ireland (N and S) and now Wales.
The fry guy just smiled when I ordered and said it would be a few, had to fry it fresh to make it best!
A stupendous amount of chips with a slab of fish soon arrived. Enough for 2 easily.
I had time but still felt rushed. I mean, the train station was only across the street so I am not sure why I was concerned.
I left my still near full box near one of the many stoops with homeless.
The railway was small and everything was in English so finding my track was a breeze, especially compared to Budapest.
I did however miss my connection in Redding. I took my time putting on my hoodie then everyone was getting on so I couldn’t push past them.
I got to the door just as it closed and locked. Trapped!
What made this rather interesting was the previous hour or so were non stop. I hoped for the next stop to be soon.
It was so I jumped on a train heading in the direction of Oxford. Luckily the trains were timed well so I had plenty of time to get on the right track.
I sat with a couple chaps at a table. They both worked for a transportation company, or maybe logistics. They were going on a work trip for more training.
The impression I got was they went to school for a specific degree related to this job.
They worked while in uni as interns or journeymen, then received a 1 year commitment at this company. The company seemed well structured and promotions were clear and easy to work towards.
To my right the green pastures rolled past, a green blur.
The great thing about this train was I didn’t have to transfer, it went to Oxford where I stood near the door, ain’t missing this stop!
After a brief walk I was near University of Oxford, a storied place whose history goes back to 1096 but it is likely older, just haven’t found a document yet.
Oxford just feels like a village, full of life as well as proper people.
My hostel was a few blocks from the uni, I found it pretty easy.
It was small and cavernous hostel, winding around a few floors. I got lost a couple of times looking for restroom and shower, located in different parts of the house.
The weather was ok so I sat outside on the patio and tried to join in on a conversation with some employees and a couple of pretty gals from New Zealand.
They were stuck at the hostel waiting as they had checked out but their flight was late at night so they let them hang out in the smokers lounge.
After trying to jump in and join the conversation a few times, I had to give up.
I was hungry so I figured I’d find something a long the way. Literally the 1st restaurant I saw was Nando’s, which I passed up, felt like something different.
Jamaican! Now that is something I don’t get everyday. I do enjoy a beef pie, jerk chicken, rice, all the stuff.
I belly up to the bar and order a Jamaican pale ale a local brewery made for them. Better than Red Stripe!
I got a couple of pies and side of rice. It was rather expensive for a whole meal, plus very large portion sizes. When I encounter this I just order a couple of appetizers and maybe a salad or side.
A few blocks away was the Eagle and Child pub. It was across the street from the literature department so that explains why lots of writers went there.
It was very small, a bit of standing room in the front before it opens up to a nice room with tables in the back.
Cash only too I recall, no cards here. This is also a real beer destination with 4 hand cranked taps of beer.
In the corner was where the writers met for pints after teaching class. I sat for a good while just wondering what all they talked about…
‘Clive, what are you writing about now?’
‘Well John, it’s about a magical land some children stumble upon, witches and a lion I’m thinking of naming Aslan. How about you?’
‘Oh well I’m still writing about orcs, hobbits, faeries. I think I have cracked writing a new language for the elves as well.’
To my surprise they had last call just after 10pm. I wanted another pint, just not going to get one here.
Probably for the best, it had been a long travel day, I needed to rest up for tomorrow!
Beer Oxford Gold
Song radiohead Darkest Hour