Winchester II: return to gilly’s
Luke Bagnall again, writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom about mine and my girlfriend Matilda’s visit to our friend Gilly’s and our daytrip to Oxford. It was a while ago, so I can’t actually really remember the order in which we did a lot of things, so I’m just gonna spew them out.
Typically (since I love food so much) I remember having a lot of good dinners – a massive roast and some spaghetti bolognese in particular. So good!
We also went around town on a pub crawl where Gilly’s frequent proclamation of the superiority of English pubs to Australian pubs was finally and resoundingly proven to us. The first thing about English pubs: there are so many of them. Every tiny little town has them. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned Alnmouth, a tiiiny one-road village on a tiiiiny peninsula. Even it had at least three.
Winchester has so many that Gilly has a different pub for every mood. Another thing is that a lot of them have charming, vaguely racist names that I assume must be relics from an earlier time, like the Saracen’s/Arab’s Head or, the best one we went to, the Black Boy. It was absolutely crazy in there – junk everywhere. In retrospect, we should’ve taken some photos. And the third English pub fact is that they’re really tolerant of dogs. Welcoming, even. We saw at least two or three, and the Bishop on the Bridge (I think) even had snacks for them.
Another night we went to see The King’s Speech at the cool Winchester cinema, which is an old barn or church or something. Obviously the movie was fantastic, and it had sold out the previous night, apparently due to the posh Winchester viewing public (the conservative old folk behind us took indignant exception to the lesbian scenes in the preview of Black Swan).
We also did a day trip to Oxford with Gilly as our fearless guide. First stop was Alice’s shop, a shop where the supposed real-life inspiration for Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland bought sweets.
We then continued on to the Church of St Mary the Virgin to go up its tower and see Oxford from above. Having just seen The King’s Speech, we were obliged to practice our royal waves as well.
We also had lunch in The White Horse pub where we were entrusted with a talkative Englishman’s electronic goods, and spent a bit too long in a cavernous bookshop.
One of the things I’m loving about England is the historical/architectural/artistic sites just scattered casually about the cities:
The Bodleian Library was one of the highlights of the day. We went there early on and went to a free exhibition about the Shelley family featuring information, letters, first editions and diaries relating to Percy and Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, which was fascinating. We came back later for a short tour.
The other two places we visited were the museum, where I saw a couple of familiar faces from my days of Year 12 Ancient History:
and Magdalen college with its mythical statues which supposedly inspired the stone garden scene in CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Tilly and I were so jealous of the students riding around the city on their bikes. We felt like we were missing out on something – this community of academic supremacy and aristocratic wealth that we were sitting outside of. Gilly wasn’t jealous, though, she said it would probably be so snobbish, which is probably true. At one point we saw this couple walking down the street and the street and they just looked SO RICH. And aryan. They were blonde and brown and dressed from head to toe in cashmere haha.
During our stay at Gilly’s we had been watching episodes of Gilly’s favourite, the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. On the night before we left, she and I stayed up to some ridiculous hour watching all of them, despite having to travel to uni the next day. Worked out for the best though, ’cause I was to study P&P this semester and I hadn’t read it by the first week when we were discussing it, so I at least had the adaptation to fall back on.
That’s all for now. My next posts will be about university life in Norwich this semester, and then a detailing of my further adventures in Ireland!