Last night I went and saw The Taming of the Shrew over at the Novello for just £5. I love being a student. The performance was excellent, of course; it was the RSC, after all. However, it isn’t Shakespeare’s best play, and I’d forgotten how the play-within-a-play issue was never quite addressed. The director took some liberties to make that work out, and he also gave the play a much darker reading than I ever had. When I first read Shrew, I gave it a quite optimistic spin, but that’s the wonder of the written word: one person can read it as sarcasm while another reads it as a threat. I won’t spoil what the director did except to say that it was extremely powerful and left the audience dead silent during most of the last act. I went out that night to see a comedy, but ended out sitting up until 3 am with tea and a kid’s book. Parasites I can deal with. People are another matter.

Staying up so late was probably not the greatest idea, since this was an early morning meeting other students for a trip out to Oxford and Blenheim Palace with Angie the wonder guide. Typically, of the 18 of us registered for the bus, only 7 showed, so we had a much better organized excursion than we’d been planning on. For the first time since I’ve been here, it rained tremendously, but the awesome destinations made up for that. Olivia, Salam, and I also had lunch at the Lamb and Flag, where the Inklings used to meet and write. Next visit, hopefully the weather will be better, and I’ll go to the Eagle and Child across the street (another Inklings pub). Despite the initial rain letting up for a strong and bitter wind, we did get a rainbow over Oxford, and we had a good time.

Unlike at Greenwich, I had my camera and took a few shots. These are some of the better (or at least, more representative) ones:

Blenheim Palace

Here we have the drenched entrance to the only non-royal palace in the UK, and Winston Churchill’s birthplace.

Blenheim estate

Blenheim Palace in the rain looks pretty dreary, but the iron-rich stone glows beautifully in the sunlight. I’d also bet that the grounds are incredible once spring really hits. As it is, they’re beautiful in the rain, but I suspect I could enjoy them more when my fingers aren’t half frozen. The same applies to Oxford, which is about 20 minutes away by coach.

Christ Church

Christ Church, even after a rain in nastily cold weather, has the prettiest grounds.

trees on the Christ Church grounds

This is also the college that hosted the Great Hall scenes for the first Harry Potter film. I hardly even tried to take pictures of that (after all, I went there so I would remember it – not to take pictures to that I could prove that I should remember it), but it was pretty awesome. I was pleased to see Boyle’s portrait halfway along the wall.

The spiky building dominating the above picture and the background of the one on the side is the refectory, which stood in for the great hall. If I had the privilege to eat there every night, I wouldn’t mind the cap and gown requirement.

Below is, amazingly, another lamp. Sorry if I get predictable after a while, but it was an exceptionally pretty corner of the courtyard.

lamp and the refectory of Christ Church

Oxford BackstreetsOxford also has some pretty awesome sidestreets. After leaving Christ Church, I saw this directly down the road. I’m not  entirely certain, but that should be Corpus Christi college. You’d never guess that Oxford was one of the old monastic schools, would you?

I didn’t take too many pictures, and didn’t get to really explore the town on my own, so I’ll have to return when the weather’s nicer. I suppose this is one more reason to apply for a Marshall.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with the rather soggier (but warmer) picture of the Blenheim lions:

Blenheim lions