One promise I made to myself for 2016 is that I am going to make more of an effort to capture my day-to-day life and not just wait for trips or big occasions to whip out my camera. I generally squeeze most of my travel into six frenzied months of the year, but the rest of the year is also pretty wonderful because it means I have time; more quality, unrushed time to spend with friends, to organize, to pursue obscurities and classes (the Oxford improv scene, public lectures and screenings, the University Walking Club, the famed climbing wall at Brookes, and so much more). On a side note, I’m working on a full post for Oxford residents that are stumped on what to do with their free time. There’s a surprising number of things happening in Oxford if you know where to look or who to ask, but it’s not always that obvious. Looking forward to having this all pulled together and getting some reciprocal recommendations!
Early in the autumn – I’m delighted to say – the residents of my street banded together for the first time since the 1970s to organize a street party! Although I never shared my New Years resolutions on this blog, one of my key goals was to try and organize a street party. I grew up in the Midwest where the annual block party was one of my favorite days of the year. I’ve always been very nostalgic about starting a street/block party tradition where I’ve lived since, though it’s a little more challenging as I’ve moved so many times and always been a renter, so had shorter roots. Now I’ve lived on Charles Street for 4+ years, it does feel more like my home.
An impressive pavlova for the street party!
Getting the tables all set-up for the big, tumble-down family-style dinner in the middle of the street.
So, going back to getting this organized in the first place. Just as I was starting to make bold, definitive statements about organizing a street party to friends (and secretly feeling overwhelmed by the detail and uncertainty of how Charles Street might respond), I had a flyer through our post inviting us to join a street party planning committee! I was so stoked. I had admittedly different visions of a street party (calling on the talent I knew of in the street already: a dj, a singer-songwriter, a bellydancer, etc), though it was decidedly more family-oriented. Totally lovely, but it meant I could help out and slightly divest from the intensity of full-on council coordination and activity planning.
Horns of Plenty played!
The day consisted of musical performance, a ceilidh, children’s games, a “How well do you know your neighbor” game (answer: not at all! Nice to meet you), a “swish” shop (bring what you don’t want and take what you do), decorations (obviously!), and a big ole potluck of delicious treats. A terrific day. I think I met about 25 neighbors.
Also around this time of year, Oxford is at its most stunning. We took a little walk along the river and around Christ Church Meadow and I… got a little carried away collecting cute, unusual and absolutely gigantic folliage.
What in the world kinda tree needs leaves so huge!
Leafy spoils from the day.
Picnic afternoon in South Park, still with my slightly embarassing armload of leaves.
Just so many varieties of tree in such a small area! Look at these beauties!
Harlem improving my boring autumnal tableau with her pretty little face.
Halloween! Jenny pulled together such a stunning outfit just by adding a raven from a novelty shop.
We were the boring guys who (yet again) didn’t get organized in time for costumes. Another one of my resolutions for next year is that I have to make an effort on Halloween! Plan ahead and don’t be so lame :)
Holy crapola – Alice’s Mad Max costume gave me chills. Another home-grown number. So impressed by the creativity.
I mean, what a cute face.
The night before, Jenny was approached by the woman on the left when we were in town. She loved Jenny’s costume and asked me to take a picture of them together, gave me her business card, and asked me to email it to her. So I did! And we couldn’t help looking her up, just out of curiosity… trip on this: she is an incredibly accomplished costume designer, most famous for her work on Doctor Who! Unbelievable!
Later at a favorite local. They really go to town with the decorations for everything in the Fir Tree.
Raven’s new perch.
Saying goodnight & goodbye to the raven.
Autumnal times also mean beer brewing times! Jack whipped out the Best Bitter – IPA kit I got for him last Christmas to have another go at kit brewing. Verdict: maybe a bitter IPA is not the best combo. But now we have 40 pints of it…! Ha. One of Jack’s goals next year is to venture further into brewing experimentation with small batches.
A not-so-brilliant picture of one of my favorite ladies! Jess visits!
On Bonfire Night this year (Guy Fawkes), we celebrated Huw’s birthday from the top of the Varsity Club. Ingenious. Avoiding the heaving crowds at South Park with a nice drink in hand and a great (distant) view of the fireworks show.
And a distant peak at the bonfire to follow (no longer Guy Fawkes in effigy, but traditionally… I think that’s the case).
One of the best things about Oxford: how close you are to great walks in Oxfordshire. A quick, 10-minute train ride took us to Charlbury in the Cotswolds for a gorgeous day out. Our walk map can be found here.
Setting the camera up for a group shot…
Slightly more obscured (I kinda like it though…!)
Favorite animal of the day.
Teresa’s hilariously large sandwich.
Just so stunning! I love autumn.
On Cornbury Park Estate; a very sad, one-man stag party.
Finishing a beautiful day. Just look at this little valley village!