Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Cut-Rate Grand Tour: Day Seventeen

Thursday, 22 December 1988

Took the day off. First thing I did was rifle my suitcase to pull out everything I’d decided I could do without. And guess what I found in the bottom? Right. My NatWest chequebook. Oh, well.

Out for pastry for late breakfast. Got a fascinating cake-like thing called a peche, and it really did look and taste like a peach. I think I could reproduce it once I get back to my own kitchen in Kansas City. It’d be fun to try. Yesterday I got a gougère at the same place. It's like a cream puff-- choux pastry-- except savory and made with cheese. That’d be easy to make, too.

Then did some shopping: tape for the package, new batteries for my flash, another box for the post office, and a jar of real Dijon mustard as a Christmas present for Mom. And I bought some fingernail polish, thinking it would help with the fact that I just can’t keep my nails clean in this blessed country, but I can’t always be digging under them. Got pink to match me. How conservative.

Came back to the hotel to find the management had hoisted everything off the floor-- bed tables, chairs, end of the bed and all, preparatory to vacuuming the room. Oh. The woman at the desk said it was all right for me to put everything back down if I needed the room. Thanks.

(That bed was jolly heavy.)

They didn’t want to vacuum yet anyway. This was a good time to sit down and make myself do that pen and ink drawing I’d been planning as a Christmas gift for Lukas’s* family. And you know how that can generate eraser dust.

Didn’t think I’d be able to do it at first. Kept getting the image too large for the paper. But I finally got into it and though I wish I had left more white space around, it came out a lot better than I had expected and I felt better doing it than I had thought I would. Why do I have such a hangup about doing artwork?

It’s of that cottage (the one I call the Hobbit House) on Parks Road on the lefthand side as you go towards Bodley. Thought it’d be nice to give them a souvenir of Oxford but not something terribly typical. The drawing is gray in tone-- can’t help it, it’s the color of the ink. Now I just need to resist the temptation to work over it and ruin it.

That took till after 5:00. Got up then and packed up all the books, my jeans, and other things in the two Post boxes to send back to Coverdale*. Put the bust of Hector in, too. Wasn’t sure how to label it, so that box just said, "Books and Personal Effects," in English and French.

Took those to the P.O. Both went book rate, despite how I’d labelled the one. 67F total but worth it for relieving the agony.

Mailed postcards to Prof. Kay, Darla Dawson*, Regina Carroll* [a friend at my home church], Francis and Penelope Warner [the couple who ran our year abroad program in Oxford], and Mom, and so much for ones from France.

Didn’t want to spend too much on dinner so tried to find something cheap. Not much available, since I was trying to reserve at least 50F for cab fare tomorrow morning. So I ended up using the Visa at Nouvelles Galleries and bought some lox, some cheese, and some chocolate and took it all home to eat in the hotel with a bit of bread I bought earlier today.

Packed everything up then did my nails before I went to bed. Took longer than I’d hoped, but I’m out of practice. Lights out by 10:15, though.

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