Something quick and satisfying

I love this place (Oxford) more and more, I can’t believe we (husband and I) just dashed out of the house to purchase a gift for one of our son’s friends at Boswell’s (great toy department) and thought we’d go for a tiny wander around the block. Anyway our block shape changed a little and we decided to head to the end of Turl Street, go right along the High Street and back past the Radcliffe Camera, (I hope I’m painting an ideal image here) through the Bodleian Library quadrangle and out the other side to get our bikes, when my husband’s attention was drawn to a poster advertising ‘The Romance of the Middle Ages’.  He, a former a student in Medieval History and me, nervous that I might miss out on something, jumped at the opportunity, for a free and impromptu date and rushed inside the small exhibition, to have a sticky beak.

I hope I’ve got the maths right…there were approximately eleven glass display cabinets containing an assortment of beautiful manuscripts, printed books and at least one, very assuming (I laughed out loud, my husband laughed out loud, I’m sure you’d also laugh out loud too) letter.

Now to a brief description of the printed books and luminous texts on exhibit and I promise to return to the hilarious letter later.

Directly opposite the ‘front counter’ where you can purchase postcards and badges – was my first port of call – and I’d recommend this as a decent place to start.  For after my initial flash backs to seeing something similar in the British Library approximately 13 years ago, I started to rapidly appreciate the absolute craftsmanship, beauty of colour and handwriting skills that the producers of these tales possessed.  I confess, I didn’t even attempt to read any of the ancient text, though was/am very grateful to the descriptions provided and positioned by each piece, by the curator.  There was enough information to inform without too much to take in and overload my Friday, post-lunch, brain.

Each display cabinet you reach focuses on a different aspect, for you can read and learn a little about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or set your eyes upon a version of Richard Coeur de Lyon written in a mediaeval Norfolk dialect or even view some truly beautiful ivory panels.  Keep an eye out for the display case housing a ‘delicate presentation scene prefacing the Middle English romance The Earl of Toulouse’ (reference, the back of my 50p postcard), it’s good, really good. My interpretation – it illustrates immense love, a man showers his sweetheart with a book – what a fabulous gift!

Worthwhile to mention, this is not just an exhibition of medieval texts, rather a mix of works through time with a common theme.  For instance, you can gaze upon some of the original handwriting (maybe part of his first draft) of Philip Pullman’s The Scarecrow and the Servant. It’s on lined paper, written in blue ink and has real words crossed out on it. Now, getting to see that kind of stuff doesn’t happen every day, does it?  Furthermore, you can laugh yourself silly, to a reply to John (someone) Esq – in relation to the submission of ‘Monty Python’s Holy Grail’ to the film censorship board for a certificate.  This is a typed response with recommended corrections, considered, presumably to improve the quality of the entertainment.

What a great and unexpected find and wonderful way to finish my week! Oh and thank you Elias Ashmole and Francis Douce

One Man, Two Guvnors

Though I’m not one to usually seek out and attend a comedy – I did find myself earlier last week contemplating, than last Wednesday (14 March) actually recommending and purchasing a ticket to attend this particular production.  Why the change of heart?  Well, it started with Grannie’s high praise for it (for she’d seen at the National Theatre) and then I’d discovered the Queen had been to see it, so I guess it was only a matter of time.

I shan’t fill you in on the plot, as that would just spoil things, though I could talk all day about the cast…or I could say it in three words – They were fabulous!

All of them and I may as well admit it, I did come away with a soft spot for Alan, though I feel that was inevitable, as you may discover.

Briefly, it’s set in the early 1960s in Brighton and from the 1st Act you come to rapidly appreciate the jokes aren’t hard to find.  Then by interval, you have shrieked with joy more often than not, watched a certain scene with disbelief and found yourself desperate to find out what happens next.

Well, the second half in no way lets you down.  For the comedy gauge hits scorching and Mr Owain Arthur (as Francis) continues in his epic performance.

Thank you to the cast, Mr Richard Bean, Nina for saying ‘Yes. Let’s do it!’ and the Director – I had a super theatre experience.

Comedy is definitely back on the menu!

Does this piece really require commentary…

Hands up, I was distracted.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

We were able to pick up from where we missed off last week and managed to make it to an open/presentation day as part of the Oxford Science Festival 2012.  And I’m so pleased with the achievement.  This time we headed to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH), to marvel and be engaged by some really into their subject volunteers.  It was so great.  Compromising of a selection of stalls, scattered around the permanent exhibits – with these providing a whole spectrum of fun/learning/hands on experience.  Though, we couldn’t take it all on –what we did -was really diverse and so good. We managed to learn a little tomography, make slime, play with custard balls, communicate in Morse code, see ice being made from liquid nitrogen, chat about ammonites, undertake some brain trick games (small chap’s definition) and be distracted – very much so -by top drawer.

Top Drawer was everywhere – in the Pitt Rivers (PRM), not the OUMNH. (PRM =The museum which is separate, though connected to the OUMNH)

A little confused?  What’s Top Drawer? Just return now and take a re-look at the above image.  Basically, the kind of stuff you find at the bottom of your backpack or handbag, that you purchased (because ‘it was unusual’ and you liked it on some level); or bartered for; or even created yourself, whilst waiting (really waiting) for a bus, ferry, train or friend. Once home, you aren’t ready to position it on the Mantle-piece, though by no means could you part with it, so you forward it to Top Drawer.  I have a couple, for they can easily exist in the plural. As the ‘recycling’ display cases on level two of the Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM) clearly testify.

Further too, my top drawers tend to be overstuffed and I know that I’m guilty of occasionally supplementing them with a few additional and non-essential items, such as broken CD covers, keys that don’t have locks anymore and ribbons. I think that’s OK though, for I don’t have the heart to chuck them and I have a tendency to squirrel.

Promise, I’m here

Good Morning

Thought I’d pop in very quickly just incase you were wondering why I’d been super quiet since January. 

I promise I haven’t though, for I’ve been working in the background, on the pages that connect to the menu options – such as Great Loves and Top Shelf Destinations. So, please feel free to venture off and have a wander around these.