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Robin grew up in London and I've been there a few times before, but we made a deliberate choice to live in a small village this year, not the city. However we've had a terrific time on our first three trips to London, and hope to make many more. We are very appreciative of any recommendations for sights, restaurants, and activities from anyone who has visited recently!

Day 1

On a rainy Wednesday last week we met Jim and Eileen for an Italian dinner and a play in the West End (similar to Broadway for shows in New York, though nothing matches the glitz of Times Square!). We chose "Dr. Semmelweis." It's about the Hungarian doctor who first realized that hand-washing in hospitals could prevent deadly infections (mid-1800's). It was special to see the noted actor Mark Rylance star in the show. Frankly though I'm more a fan of musicals! Will catch a few more shows while here.

Day 2

On Saturday Jim and Robin went to a Premier League Football game. Robin grew up as a Fulham supporter, and enjoyed seeing his home team, albeit away at Crystal Palace. The teams played to an exciting 0-0 draw (I'm being ironic, but Robin and Jim assured me it was a superb game!)

Meanwhile Eileen and I took a long walk through London's Hyde Park and then around the upscale Carnaby Street shopping area, complete with a traverse of the 7-story toy emporium, Hamleys. (According to publicity, "Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and has been an icon of Regent Street since it opened in 1881.") Along the way we enjoyed seeing a few monuments plus the boats on the enormous urban lake known as "The Serpentine" in the park.

Day 3

On Monday we dropped off Jim and Eileen at Victoria Station for their train to Gatwick and flight home to Boston. As luck would have it, more friends from Boston were in London, and we made our way to the British Museum for an afternoon with Larry and Cheryl. (Yes sharp readers, the one and same Edinburgh Cheryl!!)

I'm NOT a museum person, but a couple of you have suggested hiring a guide to enhance the sightseeing experience. We decided to give it a try. Dr. Lawrence Owens is an archaeologist who enlightened and entertained us for a whole afternoon. He's a great story-teller as well as an expert in ancient civilizations.

The British Museum contains artifacts from around the world and describes its purpose as: "to document the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present." It contains 8.5 million items, and according to Wikipedia, "the right to ownership of some of its most well-known acquisitions, notably the Greek Elgin Marbles and the Egyptian Rosetta Stone, is subject to long-term disputes and repatriation claims."

Now Dr. Owens: we were so wrapped up in your stories of how the artifacts related to ancient cultures, that we totally forgot to see either of the above!

A year or two ago we watched a movie called "The Dig" starring Ralph Fiennes as a British archaeologist. In this true story, Basil Brown made an amazing discovery of 18 royal burial grounds dating from the 7th century at a site called Sutton Hoo. The graves were rich with treasure, and the most amazing burial was in a great ship. All its artifacts are now at the British Museum. We highly recommend this movie and hope to visit Sutton Hoo this year. Meanwhile it was cool to see the treasures recovered from the site.

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Updated: 3 days ago

Last Thursday we were treated to a tour of Oxford University by Robin my husband, who graduated from there in 1972. According to Wikipedia, "there is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world." Today the University is made up of 39 semi-autonomous colleges. Robin attended the one called "University College," aka Univ, the oldest and the best!

Each college entrance is guarded by a "porter" and Robin had to answer a series of test questions before the porter believed his legitimacy as an alumnus, and let us into the Univ quad. Robin then reminded us that President Clinton attended Univ as a Rhodes Scholar, and worked nights as a porter. They were there at the same time, and Robin thinks it quite possible that Bill might have let him in after hours a time or two 😁.

It's an impressive, picturesque place and my photos have not done it justice! Our visit with friends Eileen & Jim focused on the university itself, though there is a bustling city all around it. As you can see from the photos, bicycling is a popular way to get around. From where we live in Somerton, we can drive into Oxford in about 30 minutes, and will soon try taking the train since parking isn't easy.

The next day, Friday, Eileen said she could use a low-key morning, so Jim and I went to play at the Oxford Duplicate Bridge Club. It was a friendly group, and we were pleased to be invited to the "Dew Drop Inn" pub afterwards. We really enjoyed lunch and a discussion of the hands with the local players.

But to be honest, I'm a little more intrigued with London right now than Oxford! Next up, some highlights of our three excursions to London with our American visitors.

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Hello Dear Readers, the past week has been filled with the mundane tasks of settling into our new house in England, sprinkled with a detour or two and a much-anticipated visit with our niece Mia. Mia is the daughter of Robin's (late) brother Paul and Leni, and is currently a university student in London. She is definitely a major reason for us to be here this year - it is always a pleasure spending time with Mia.

She agreed to meet us halfway for a hike in one of Robin's favorite spots, Watlington Hill, but we gave up after a half hour due to getting soaked with rain. We retreated to the local pub for lunch, then gave her a tour of our house and exchanged stories from the past year. The day with Mia absolutely flew by!

Last weekend we drove to Nuneaton to pick up an exercise bike I found on eBay. We like to detour if anything of interest comes up. I had a hankering for a Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich, which I have been unable to find in Oxford; but handy Google sent us to a place in Leamington on our way home. Then we noticed signs for the major castle in Warwick. We drove into the city but soon realized, after paying £6 for parking, that the tour would take all day and it was already late afternoon, so we put it on our list for another day.

By the way, I've been collecting copious photos and notes about the British cuisine. The first of many food and drink-related posts is coming soon! Suffice it to say for now that we are eating well.

Meanwhile, I'm getting used to doing laundry with no clothes dryer. Most British homes don't have them, according to our house manual. That will probably top the list of things I miss most about the U.S. (But if I can get used to it, it's much more environmentally responsible isn't it?) I'm learning that if you get a clear day, strongly consider whether you need to do laundry, as the next one might take awhile to arrive. Fortunately there is the backup of an indoor heated drying rack, as long as you're not in a hurry.

Our friends Jim and Eileen are in London this week and coming to stay with us for 5 nights. The guest suite is ready! We'll be in London three times during the next six days. Perhaps I will have more interesting adventures to share other than "the laundry." Cheerio for now!

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