Gypsy's Travels

Monday, July 14, 2008

Travels With Em - "Friday 11 July"

"We are holding our Garden Fete and I am looking for some minor celebrity to open it. Would you be available?"

Thus began Colin Dexter's presentation to our group. He called it the "worst letter I ever received."
Colin is a wizened little man who admits to a profound hearing loss. The loss had a pronounced effect on his life, leading him to give up teaching and, eventually, become a writer. He has been quite successful with his "Inspector Morse" novels.A couple of days later, we happened on a filming of one of the Inspector Morse episodes.... right downtown....right in the bookstore where we we were searching. Truth be known, I had never heard of the series before. I believe the man in the pink shirt, on the far right, is the "star."Colin delighted us for an hour with his dry, self-deprecating, British humor and left us wanting more. He willingly answered questions, posed for photographs, and signed books, He admits to being "well past my 'Sell By' date," but exudes a wonderful sense of humor that surpasses age.

After lunch, we boarded the "coach" for an afternoon at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden. The gates at the Museum are from the film, "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,"and were donated by the film company.The doors inside, leading to the Museum area, looked, and smelled like a bar of chocolate. It is a delightful, almost magical place where there is a lot of information and encouragement for young writers. The museum told about Dahl's life and there were dozens of interactive displays and informative tips for encouraging young writers. One of the children tries the hands-on exhibit which showed how Dahl set everything up every morning in preparation for his day's work.Dahl's method of designing unique characters was explained and interested participants designed to their heart's content.A short video could be made using ordinary toy animals.
The children had an evening workshop with Helen, leaving the adults free for a couple of hours. Four of us banded together for a brief exploration of downtown Oxford. All the Pubs / Taverns were crowded so it was easy for us to pop in and have a look around. A plaque inside tells the story. Sinclair Lewis, his brother W.H. Lewis, J.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and other friends met at "The Eagle & The Child" every Tuesday morning between the years 1930 - 1962 in the back room of this, their favorite, pub. They commonly changed the names of the pubs where they met, calling this one "The Bird and the Babe." These men, popularly known as "The Inklings," met to drink Beer and to discuss, among other things, the books they were writing.This unassuming house was the home of Edmund Halley, a Savilian professor of Geometry 1703 - 1742. He live here and had his observatory in this house. Don't recognize the name? Think, Halley's Comet. The Turf Tavern was built within the old canditch (moat outside the city wall). The town wall was initially raised as part of Alfred the Great's defences against the Danes in the later 9th Century, but was continued in the Middle Ages and would have stretched along the line of New College Lane fronting on the Turf towards Smithgate, at the corner of Castle St. There are very few sections of Oxford's town wall left standing, but the Turf is blessed to have one of the prime examples literally in its back garden. The oldest part of the buildings standing today is the 17th Century, low-beamed, front bar area.


  1. Are you hitting the pubs mom? Have some fish & chips & vinegar for me, but make sure to sing the song when you do!

  2. Just think, your kids are telling you what to do. We get that also.


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