Chapter Three: Oxfordshire

Chapter Three: Oxfordshire

For the last episode of Little Britain, I kept the best for the end in order to finish on a high note. You might have guessed from the previous episode, this journey has been deeply enriching and calming. During this entire trip I have never been so happy. Nothing was missing. I know traveling doesn’t always mean comfort or extraordinary. However, some trips are just perfect and you can’t use any other words to describe them. I think these two days in Oxfordshire have been the most wonderful I ever had. It was the icing on the cake, the culmination of my happiness. Sometimes when I’m in doubt, I just need to think about those two days. I’ve never been to Oxfordshire before, and to be fair, I’ve never seen truly British countryside until this trip. Let me say that I was totally in the ignorance. Indeed, I only had the image of London in my mind when I though about Great Britain. Thanks to this travel, my opinion about this country is now totally different. Of course, I’ve been to places like Cambridge, and Leeds Castle before. And at this time, I was already falling in love with this country. This family trip has just increased my obsession. More and more, I am convinced that Britain can be the country of my heart. I could probably leave there without any doubts. Not only because of the fashion industry, but also the lifestyle, the philosophy and the landscapes are all seducing me a lot. I might glorify a little bit the life there, nevertheless, I deeply think that I could be like a fish in the water. France is as well a beautiful country with plenty of sceneries. However the mentality is more and more far from my own philosophy.

 

Day 1

7:45am Last Breakfast in Chelsea

This morning, we woke up really early because my parents were leaving. They didn’t came with us in Oxfordshire. As my sister is living far from France – more precisely in Canada – those goodbyes were quite emotional to be honest. As you might bet, living far from family can be a really hard experience, especially in my family. We all are very close. So this day started with tears and nostalgia. We let our parents go in a taxi at the Hotel. Then after a small nap, we’ve been seeking for a place to eat in Chelsea. I’m not a breakfast person, I’ve never been one. My sister is totally the opposite. Breakfast is for her the most important meal of the day. Thus we had to do it properly. We took the full menu. I’m rarely replete so early but this day was the beginning of the most beautiful day of our lives. We had to celebrate. After a huge and happy breakfast, we took a cab to Marylebone train station to go to Oxford.

13:28pm Hello Oxford

To get us in the mood, we listened to music we love. Once arrived in Oxford, we were so motivated and just happy to be together. We started visiting the various Universities of Oxford including the Balliol College. The latter is famous because the well-known economist Adam Smith had studied there. Also, we went to Wadham College which is as well one of the prestigious university in Oxford. Those visits made us think about our own educational backgrounds. In my family, studies have always been placed as a priority. Our parents spent a lot of money to allow us to have the best education possible. They were no limits to our scholar ambitions. When I’m thinking about it, now that I’m done with studying, I realize how lucky I am. Indeed, I know everybody doesn’t have the same chances when it comes to education. This is one of main progress we need to make in our century. There are many inequalities concerning the knowledge access. Studies can be highly expensive, but luckily, in France we have ‘affordable’ solutions. As a Communication student, it was hard for me to go at uni. I needed something more ‘professionalizing’. I needed to do internship for instance. Unfortunately, public universities are not always requiring those type of experiences. Therefore I chose private schooling for my 5 years of Master, only my year of sociology was almost free. Being in this type of prestigious colleges made me think about the fact that I’m not from a well-known university and I might have some difficulties in life someday. Indeed, to me, companies are tempted to take the best when it come to recruitment, and honestly I get that, it makes sense. However, I found it quite unfair because people can have the same skills even if they made their studies in different schools – for instance one at Harvard and one at Université de Paris. The opportunities for those two individuals would probably be totally different even if their knowledge are quite similar. This visit was a good opportunity to discover Oxford famous scholar institutions, but besides that, it was a interesting way to put my own background in perspectives.

 

16:45pm Tea Time

I’ve never took a proper British Tea before. So for this perfect day, my sister booked a nice place in Oxford at the Old Personnage Hotel, a Luxury place to have afternoon teas. I don’t know if it’s because we look young or because we are black, but people – from this particular moment until the end of our trip – didn’t stop looking at us. We were thinking, perhaps they are not use to see young people, alone, without any parental figure going into those places. To be honest, we don’t really mind, we were too excited. So this first tea time experience was the best I ever had obviously. My sister prepared a fabulous surprise. She asked for an extra plate with a specific message « My heart is happiest when I am with you – Didi ». This is the most beautiful attention I ever had. This moment was really perfect and I was so overwhelmed by it all this day. This little attention had a deep impact on me. Some of you can think it’s nothing, but what is really affecting is all the preparations beyond. She kept her secret until the end of our journey, and she tough about it away before we’ve met. At this exact moment, I tough I couldn’t be more happier than now, but it was before our night in Eynsham Hall.

 

18:04pm Post Tea Time Walk

After this delightful tea, we decided to go back to the city center to enter into the various streets and decor Oxford has to offer. As you might guess, the architecture is quite impressive, you feel like you’re playing in a Harry Potter movie. We’ve seen two famous landmark, The Codrington Library and The Bridge of Sighs. We were very tired because we had been up since 7am. Thus this little walk went wild. We were screaming, dancing and jumping in the street. That’s what a lack of sleep does to us. Then phase three started. The motivation dropped down and we decided to take the bus to Eynsham. We didn’t realize how far and how complicated it was to go to this place. The bus was dropping us off far from the castle. So after two stops in it, we decided to get down and call a cab. We were waiting near to a pub were drunk talk were already initiated. Many funny anecdotes happened in this little street corner, but if I try to count them, they will be deprived of their funny aspect. It took almost 45 minutes to the cab to fetch us. Then as we were exhausted, we secretly hoped that it would be a quiet drive. Unfortunately, the driver were too chatty and he felt he could talk about his entire life during the drive. We were not in the mood so we opted for short answers and onomatopoeias.

 

19:45pm Eynsham Hall

Arriving at Eynsham was like seeing a temple of coziness and sophistication. We were like religious people coming to church. With the tiredness, our emotions were doubled. The facade was so impressive. You could be afraid by big castle. You might think about scary stories, ghosts and spirits. Here it was not the case at all. We were enchanted by the idea of staying here for the night. The field were sprinkled of sheep. As I have an obsession with them, I became totally crazy. My sister had to calm me down to make me drop my luggage in our room. During our way to our chamber, I was so distracted by all the surroundings. But then, when we entered the room, classical music was playing at the radio. It was like a dream. The entire room was beautiful and full of comfort. We felt so alive and well when we came in. The little music detail made this moment unforgettable. After dropping our stuff, we went back to the gardens to admire the little sheeps. Daylight was fading and it gave a special ambiance. Indeed, we felt as if we accomplished a wonderful day and abundance was in the air. The necessity to eat appeared slowly. The time came and we sat at the hotel restaurant. During this nice dinner we’ve talked about our deep thoughts. By explaining all those emotions, we tried to make things clear. It it always useful to have someone like this in your life. Someone who understand you without many explanations. Someone who literally read in your mind because of your common backgrounds. You feel less alone when you have someone like that. After this long day and a bath, we slept as little babies in this snug bed.

 

Day 2

7:33am Morning in Eynsham

This morning, when I woke up I really felt peaceful. But as my mind is a redoubtable player, few minutes after I woke up, nostalgia knocked out in my mind. I tried to not think it was the day of our departures. My sister and I would have to say goodbye. I decided to focus on the present to avoid depression. We woke up with classical music to remind us we were still in paradise. Here again, we had a huge breakfast, a little too big for me to be honest. I felt quite swollen by all of this. But we didn’t have the time to draw out so we packed our luggages and then we ordered another cab to Blenheim Palace.

 

10:27am Blenheim Palace

Home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family, this palace is a real art and architecture treasure. However, when we came in and started the visit, my sister made a good point. A big painting was exposed in a long corridor and a black servant was painting at the bottom in a small size. My sister quite irritated by this representations, told me « Is that the only representation of black people in art? » When you think about it, it’s hard to find a noble representation of black people in this western art culture. I know this issue has been quite mentioned in the public debate lately. However, I think there are many improvement to do. Except that point, the castle was really beautiful and the paintings as well. This palace was a part of Churchill’s inheritance. An entire room consecrate to him. The gardens were, as well, a delicious discovery. New castle means new flock, so we’ve been seeking out for those lovely sheeps. They were more aggressive this time, so we stay within safe distance. During our lunch break, we were quiet and in a bad mood. The end was definitely coming and also we were sick of restaurant foods. The all way back was a question of hold back our chunder urge. The driver was really efficient and we came back to Oxford just in time for our bus to Gatwick. Our goodbye were harrowing. At this time I didn’t knew that I would see her few months later for our Cuba-Mexico trip. Each time I take my flight to Gatwick straight to Lyon I got to deal back with the French behavior based mainly on incivilities. When I have connections before Lyon, it is always better  for me because I get to slowly go back to the routine.



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