I kicked it into high gear during last week in Oxford, trying to see all the things we wanted to before leaving England, finishing my classes, presentations and papers and getting packed up and ready to leave. I am definitely going to need a vacation after this! :-)
July 17th was Dave's and my wedding anniversary, and we celebrated by attending a wonderful performance of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Ernest" by the Oxford Shakespeare Company at Wadham College. Evan behaved very well, and even seemed to enjoy it and relish in some of the baudy jokes. One line in particular seemed to tickle his funny bone: "I know exactly how to treat women," stated the character of Algernon Moncrieff. "If they're pretty you sleep with them, and if they're not, you don't." To which my five-year-old son slapped his knee, laughed loudly and announced "Thats the really funny part." Needless to say he was the real show stopper.
We also visited Christ Church College, where several scenes for the Harry Potter movies were filmed. An incredibly beautiful college campus! Our final family event in Oxford was a perfect conclusion to our stay. We attended an excellent performance of "Robin Hood" by the Creation Theatre Company in Headington Park. The stage was built around a large old tree and the action took place in and around the stage in the wooded area of the park, so that we really felt like we were in Sherwood Forest or watching a performance in much the same way that the play was originally performed. Robin Hood is such rich play from a historical, cultural and artistic perspective covering the Norman/Saxon aspect of British history and excompassing the economic, political and religious issues of the time. Evan was "afraid of the ghostes" at the end of the play, but all in all, we very much enjoyed this last evening in Oxford.
The final week's lectures included: Dr. Martin Conway with a fascinating look at "Fascism and the Modern State," Dr. Philip Davies who asked "What Have the Blair Governments Achieved?" Dr. Sarah Whitmore who provided a perspective on "The Orange Revolution in the Ukraine" and addressed the question of whether this could indeed be considered a full and effective revolution, given the current state of political affairs in the Ukraine. Dr. Ashley Jackson gave a sobering lecture entitled "Into Africa: Security Challenges for the Modern World" and Dr. Mark Radford concluded the lecture series with "The Irish Peace Process: Ending The Long War."
On Friday evening, I attended the final ceremony at Exeter, which started with a lovely champagne reception in the Fellow's Garden, followed by a formal dinner in the Great Hall and presentation of our certificates. Then it was back home to pack and set our alarm for 3:45am to make our early morning flight back to Chicago! The experience of a lifetime!