Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

30 March 2008

England, Day Five

The goal for today was to spend a few hours at the Ashmolean Museum. When I came to England last year the entire museum was closed for repairs and upgrading, so I never had the chance to tour the collection. I rose fairly early, just after seven thirty in the morning, and was due at Steve's parents for breakfast. Suddenly my problems resolved and I had access to work email. After more than an hour reading and responding to email, I suddenly realized it was Saturday. No one would care what I had to say about for several days! I packed up and headed off to meet Steve.

The bus ride was notable for the picture I took of the only toll along the road from Witney to Oxford. The pictures are on Flickr and show the toll being 1p ($0.02 US) per axel. The bridge is only thirty feet long, but that is a pretty inexpensive toll. Once in Oxford, Steve and I spent several hours touring the museum. My favorite household item is a set of six dinner plates with an almost Burma Shave expression on them:

What is A Merry Man

Set him do what he Can

To Entertain his Guests

With wine & Merry Jests

But if his Wife do frown

All merriment Goes Down.

The plates are dated 1738 and are obviously quite humorous. There was also a collection of Beadle's staves or rods. In old Lodge records from the founding in 1717 to the start of the nineteenth century the Tyler was also referred to, occasionally, as the Beadle. Americans best understand this position was the old colonial town crier. The beadle's staff was an important defensive item when walking through the town at all hours. These staves are far more beautiful than the normal painted wood version, and are likely to have been of a more ceremonial nature within Oxford.

For the second day a museum made me late for lunch and it was 2:00pm before we made our way to a pub. FIrst we tried Jude the Obscure in Jericho, but it had stopped serving a few minutes before we arrived. We turned toward St. Giles road and found ourselves at the door of The Royal Oak. It was the penultimate quiet English pub with comfortable chairs and great ale. I had a delicious hand drawn stout, making up or the complete lack of stout, other than Guinness "extra cold," thus far on my trip. Steve and I shared a ploughman's and fisherman' platter and resolved to return soon on Monday for lunch again.

From there we stopped in at the Lamb and Flag then returned to Jude the Obscure. We were both fairly tired, so we were soon back to Witney and to bed.

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