Iceland · 40 Days · 48 Moments · August 2016

Emma Keil-Vine

Oxford and Abroad

10 September 2016

Sitting in Heathrow waiting to board my last flight (or, second last, if you count the brief stopover in Iceland). Picture from the dreary, yet still sort of beautiful, that was rainy Cardiff this morning at 6am. Many hours, buses and escalators (seriously, Heathrow is all escalators) later here we are. Last leg of the journey. Heading home.

9 September 2016

For those of you not caught up on the ever so important aspect of Cardiff - the main reason, in fact, that I'm here - let me enlighten you: in Cardiff there is a rift in time and space, making it a place of high alien activity and the perfect charging spot for the TARDIS. Or, in less geeky phrasing, it's the location of the Doctor Who Experience. An interactive museum/exhibit/homage to all things Doctor Who, and also my main activity for this, my last full day of travel. After some wandering in the morning I headed down to Cardiff Bay, seeing the Roald Dahl Plass (the impressive looming structure in the last photo) and then spent many a happy hour in this sci-fi paradise. After that more wandering and am now turning in - tommorow starts early with a bus back to London and then, at long last, my flight back home.

8 September 2016

Landed safely in London and then, after taking the train from Stansted back into the city itself, finding myself with spare time, decided it most reasonable to walk to the coach station. This decision I deemed slightly questionable when I finally arrived, boiling hot with my bag feeling much heavier than when I started out. All the same, got to the bus station in time and by 3pm I had arrived in Cardiff. The hostel is adorable (if strangely lacking in forks? I did always want to improve my chopstick skills) and the town charming. Most things were closing by the time I had checked in so instead I walked through the lovely expanse that is Bute Park before retiring for simple dinner and a good book. This travel thing is exhausting.
So mountains.. They're pretty great. And also surround much of Edinburgh (and are surrounded by Edinburgh) and this award some pretty spectacular views of the city when climbed. The climbing part... Well perhaps a trail *should* have been followed, but really who doesn't like a little adventure? The sign at the top of the Mountain warning me of the path I had just taken certainly wasn't working to prevent it. After that simultaneously invigorating and exhausting experience I wandered around, getting in my last views of this beautiful city before having a wonderful meal (David Bann, all vegetarian - everyone hop on a flight and go go go!) and then an early night to be up at.. 4am! I'm now sitting in the Edinburgh airport, getting ready to fly back to London and then on to Cardiff for the final stop of my journey.

7 September 2016

So yesterday I did the very Scottish thing if trying Haggis - vegetarian haggis, specifically. And, even more specifically, surprisingly delicious vegetarian haggis. Fully fortified by the hearty meal I explored more if the city, including the most enchanting graveyard I have ever seen before capping the night off at the Edinburgh Playhouse to see The Simon and Garfunkel Story. Which was fabulous - and truly felt like I was listening to the duo themselves when they sang. This morning I climbed a mountain - but more on that once I regain feeling in my legs.

6 September 2016

The Green Acres theme song seems odly appropriate as I traded out the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile from yesterday to explore the little gem that is Dean Park - a small neighbourhood north west of New Edinburgh which is entirely one with the nature surrounding it. Just a brief walk from one of the busy streets and I found myself in a river (or, more accurately, on a rock in a river). If you had told me I was a million miles from civilization I would have easily believed it.

5 September 2016

Started the day off right with a delicious almond croissant followed by a wonderful walking tour (which I might have gotten lost walking to. Possibly. Maybe.) of Old Edinburgh. The number of gorgeous old buildings here is unbelievable and the history of the city equally so. After the tour some wandering of the main street followed by a much needed quiet night in with tea and a good book.

4 September 2016

Safely arrived in Edinburgh, and was greeted with this beautiful view as we descended. Now on my way to the hostel, fairly worn out by this day of travel but also quickly being energized by pure excitement at being in Scotland.
Another early start to the day, this time to catch the bus into London. With a fair bit of time I walked through beautiful, lovely Hyde Park and then walked very much out of the way to go see Paddington Station (because how could I not?). After a train ride out if the city, I'm now waiting in Stansted Airport for my flight to Edinburgh. Oh so bored at the moment but oh so looking forward to what's to come.

3 September 2016

Warning: the word "last" will be used many times in this post I have now packed up everything, printed boarding passes and gotten my ticket for the bus ride tomorrow morning but I still can't believe this is my last day in Oxford. It was, at least, a long day, starting bright and early to say goodbye to those heading home. Then a last look around what has been my campus for the past month, a last walk along main street (fittingly, in the rain), a last bit of exploring; going back to Covered Market (and buying a little 'thank you' flower for my host) and then lots and lots of packing. I'm going to be living out of a little backpack for the next week meaning everything else has now been packed away to go into a storage locker. Last pot of tea, last dinner (so impressively similar to the night before, it's astounding) and a last quiet night doing some final (or should I say last?) planning and organizing for the next couple days. Goodnight Oxford, it has been amazing.

2 September 2016

With the majority of the class heading home tomorrow, today felt distinctly like my last day here (though as I keep assuring myself, I still have one more day) and we thus tried to see as much as possible. First a trip to the Pitts River Natural History Museum, then explored the vintage-store-laiden Cowley Road before heading to the Ashmolean Museum and a final celebratory roof-top afternoon tea. At night I successfully cooked the rest of my food (clearly the most important accomplishment of the day) though I'm certain I have leftovers for weeks and we enjoyed a quiet night in - with more tea, of course, because what better way is there to toast Oxford?

1 September 2016

Today marked the official end of my course, with the final exam this morning. Can't believe it was over, but managed to somehow distract myself with a trip to an exhibit on Shakespeare (including an original copy of his first folio!), the Oxford Botanical Gardens and a walk through Christ Church Meadows. Capped off the day with our final karaoke night at the college pub - perhaps no one will notice if I just never leave this place?

31 August 2016

With today being the last day of proper classes(!) it seemed only fitting to celebrate with a proper afternoon tea, at a restaurant right on the Thames, no less. And then, given the final exam is tomorrow, the naturally seemed like an excellent time to walk back along the winding River rather than the boring direct route. Several hours (and many beautiful sights) later studying commenced. And now off to bed - can't believe the final day is upon us.

30 August 2016

As the program starts to wind down, we reach the end of term celebration. Yes, tonight the stressed, tired students of Oxford put on their fanciest attire, conceal the bags under their eyes and enjoy a full nourishing meal not parceled together from the "sale" section of Tesco. All melodrama aside though, a lovely evening and dinner in the Worscter College dining hall... Plus why ever turn down a three course meal and chance to dress up?

29 August 2016

Last week of classes began today, and with that the preparation for the (cannot believe we're here) final exam. The theme of this week's food will, I have decided, be "use up everything in the fridge" meaning tonight's dinner (and most likely many meals to come) was just as many vegetables as possible. Ended the evening with the final trivia night - at which our team was victorious. Only took us a month to get there, but the (sadly only metaphorical) crown is at last ours. A fitting moment given I am now home and finishing reading Richard II. (Second photo taken by Sam, stolen by me for this lacking-in-photos day)

28 August 2016

Today, in search of cheaper food (apparently it does exist!) we headed out into the yet unexplored eastern side of Oxford. Although most everything closes at 5 around here, it was still fun to look into the closed shop windows and to plan future trips for daylight hours. After heading to a restaurant that was closed and then accidentally passing by the restaurant we decided on twice, finally food was acquired. Less expensive, though still not cheap for the quantity - but oh so delicious. Evening walk back through the streets of Oxford seemed like the perfect cap to an afternoon of exploration.
Another work day, though it's much easier to not mind being stuck inside working when the outside world seems to be unable to decide whether hail or torrential rain is the best way to fill the day. Went out for dinner, post indecisive weather attack, which I realized was my first proper dinner out in London. Exciting as eating a meal not limited to my meagre ingredient collection might be, let me say food in Oxford is not cheap. Back to home cooking from hear on out methinks.

26 August 2016

Today was an essay writing day. And what says "essay writing day" better than... The Oxford orchard? Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but a beautiful view and I think that's the really important thing here. Theme of tonight's dinner was "use up the tomatoes from the market" which I think I did quite well, and after that a night of scrabble and The Producers - nothing helps unwind quite like board games musicals, no?

25 August 2016

A little tired today after getting in from London the night before, but nothing like a rousing final class of the week and walk around town to wake you back up. A little tea at our quickly-becoming-favourite spot of the cafe in the church and then back home to work. Dinner in, during which I realized the view from the kitchen is rather lovely - though that may have been heightened just by it not being a computer screen..

24 August 2016

After class, stopped by a bustling farmer's market and then headed off on the bus to London for our final class trip. This time to see the Globe's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and, with our last show, I'm so pleased that we finally had a complete success. Very modern and innovative and simply bursting with joy and humour with every turn. A wonderful end to our little "course season." This conclusion does of course mean that the end of the program itself if coming, so there might be a little less to report over the next few days as this traveller tries to forces herself back into her student role.

23 August 2016

Beautiful morning in Oxford today, and although most of the afternoon was spent inside working, still managed to find a little time to enjoy the weather. In the evening the day got *really* exciting with cooking Swiss Chard for the first time (quite successfully if I do say so myself) and then a quiet evening in watching Chicago (preparing for our karaoke finale perhaps?) and drinking (given the time of night) a probably unreasonable amount of tea.

21 August 2016

Sunday was a bit of a dreary day, raining fairly constantly, but that just made the board game cafe we found all the more appealing. Also explored the Worcester College grounds a bit more, coming across this lovely garden area. Aside from that, the days have been filled with play readings and a side of more play readings. On the final play now though (Richard II) so can now look forward to.. an essay on said play readings. It amazing how quickly the program is going by, it seems like the final exam and wrap up are just around the corner.

20 August 2016

Spent this morning at Brick Lane market (my view of London is now one of vintage shops and tiny food stalls rather than Big Ben and the like - something I'm entirely happy about) taking in another corner of the city I didn't even know existed. After that we headed (on a classic red double decker bus no less) to the Pheonix Theatre for a production of Guys and Dolls. After the show we did the required little bit of tourism and stopped by Buckingham Palace before catching the bus back to Oxford. (Did I again get lost trying to find the bus stop? Possibly. Is there a recurring pattern here? Sadly it seems so.) Now happily back in Oxford looking forward to a good night's sleep and a slightly less busy day ahead, though already missing bustling London.

19 August 2016

This evening, continuing our nights of light cheerful theatre, we went and saw 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre - an absolutely brilliant and disturbing production (especially with in the front row rush seats we had) that left me truly in awe. After the show, much in need of some sort of catharsis, we got gelato (in the shape of a flower!) and appreciated the full moon over the Thames. A truly spectacular night in London if I do say so myself.
The day of course started off raining so after taking the tube back into the city we headed off to the National Gallery for some beautiful paintings and appreciated shelter. After that we walked to Camden Market (stopping for lunch along the way) to spend many happy hours exploring the stalls and eclectic shops.

18 August 2016

Apologies for no update yesterday, my avid and attentive audience, but to make up for it I give you all the photos the Globe Theatre you never knew you wanted! Yes today I am in London, coming in on a bus with that class to see the Globe's production of Macbeth. Before the show we wandered around Borough Market and after took the hour long tube ride (only went the wrong way once so I call that a success) to get our airbnb so I'm now rather exhausted. Given this, I shall any real play feedback to my more concious brain and for now just say goodnight!

16 August 2016

Random direction of the day was... North? Possibly? It started off as north, walking through Jericho and then branched off into any number of directions eventually landing me at Christ Church Meadows, a gorgeous green space set in around the soaring old buildings complete with a river, gardens, and the perfect reading spot. I think I shall only study by rivers from now on...
In the evening we went to the college trivia night and, after losing spectacularly (I'm trying to not see this as a recurring pattern) I headed home.. Only to find my key not in my bag as I had thought. As much as I do love standing outside locked houses at midnight, I instead headed back to the college, and fulfilled the life long dream I never knew I had of crashing on a friend's dorm room floor. For those of you wishing to replicate this fun journey, may I suggest leaving this part out. I got let back into my place in the wee hours of the morning (shockingly I had yet to fall asleep on the floor as I was so luckily I was awake to get the call) and now am going to make sure to never wish to stay out of my house again. (The irony of the situation shockingly did not become apparent until I acquired a few hours of sleep in a real bed).

15 August 2016

After a weekend of being stuck at home working, it seemed most fitting to go out to explore after class today, ending up at The Grand Cafe, the oldest coffee house in Oxford (my lack of coffee drinking perhaps made this slightly less impressive, but they had tea and I think that's all the really matters). After our impromptu afternoon tea, still wanting to be outside, we wandered around the city exploring some of the other colleges at Oxford, all of which I have decided are equally beautiful and worthy of visiting.

14 August 2016

The weekend of work has officially come to an end, with several assignments finished up and this little known play (Macbeth? Am I spelling that right?) being delved into for the third time. Joined some friends for dinner at a cute burger place (though I don't know if it can be called dinner when they were eating at 4 o'clock) and spent the evening reading at a cute cafe. This is more like it.
Today is a day without pictures, because today was a day, unfortunately, without picture worthy events. It is, however, to be celebrated because I have now submitted the 110 page report I've been working on for Shakespearience and have officially finished my contract. Perhaps not the most exciting day in Oxford, and one that has left me thoroughly drained and ready for bed, but now means tommorow I can fully commit to... more work (this time of the school variety). Regardless, it is lovely to have this off my plate, and perhaps tommorow they'll be time for a break and celebratory tea - I think there is always time for celebratory tea.

12 August 2016

There is a street, a beautiful beautiful street, going through Stratford that has on it almost every Shakespeare-related building a girl could dream of. This does of course mean that this street also has hundreds of tourists and pricey entrance to everything, but I have now seen the outside of many many things, and went in one or two of them (ie those with free admission). After a delicious breakfast we stayed at the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried and then worked our way back, ending at his childhood home. After that we stopped by a little cafe and then back on the bus and home to Oxford we went.

11 August 2016

There was class, there was (very minimal) packing, there was an unpleasant bumpy bus ride and then -- then there was Stratford Upon Avon. By the time our class arrived we didn't have much time to see things, but just being in the town a certain Bard was born in is enough to set my obsessed heart a-flutter. After dinner at an old pub (leek onion pie - I have now had proper British food, I think) it was off to the RSC for their production of Cymbeline. The production was half good, half bad -- quite literally, with the second half unfortunately going down hill (much like the script does, in my opinion, but regardless..). All the same, beautiful theatre, amazing costume and sets, and fantastic musical accompaniment. After the (3.5 hour long) show we headed to our cute B&b and now a much needed rest so we can be ready for all the exploring tommorow. Night from Shakespeare's birthplace!

10 August 2016

Today I learned many important things. First there was a wonderful class on Shakespeare's life where I.. well, shockingly, learned more about Shakespeare's life and then, then I learned that there is a canal that runs through part of Oxford. The fact that I don't know which of these two discoveries was more exciting I think says a lot about engaging the lecture was, because this canal was beautiful. A little secluded oasis of old brick and canoes and boats and the perfect reading spot to finish the first of the plays we're studying, Cymbeline. A slightly odd story (to say the least) but only improved by nature and the (I think mandatory) cup of tea later on. Tommorow, after class, we head off to Stratford to see a production of Cymbeline with the Royal Shakespeare Company. So for now, goodnight!

9 August 2016

Putting a pause on my meandering mission, I met up with a couple others in the program to have tea and scones (of course) at that Vaults and Gardens Café. Located inside the church in the first picture and also the site of the first Oxford university building the main thought on my mind is why are there not more cafés in old churches? (That and how scones and tea can be so delicious)
I have made the important realization that the best method to deal with the confusing Oxford streets is to blindly wander into them without want of a final destination or a limit to time. This decision was only cemented after walking aimlessly through Oxford today after class, choosing roads purely based on how old and secluded they looked, and finding all sorts of incredible buildings. This town oozes history and beauty and I think my new mission is to accidentally happen upon all of it.

8 August 2016

First day of classes done! Although I might have gone to the wrong classroom initially, a very enjoyable class after that full of close readings of texts and plenty of class discussion. Then, around the homework I already have (I suppose that's how they fit an entire course into a month) time for a scavenger hunt that just dissolved into walking around the city exploring, and a trivia night later in the evening. Now off to bed so I can avoid being unconscious for tomorrow's class.

7 August 2016

Quiet dinner at my place tonight (so relatively cheap when compared to Iceland's food prices!), catching up on some overdue work, and getting ready for classes which start tommorow (!!). Featuring tea, because when in Rome...
I have concluded that all of Oxford looks very similar, full of little alleys leading away from one gorgeous street of old buildings and letting out on to other similarly gorgeous streets of old buildings. Oxford College itself seems endless, with its buildings even more integrated into the town than UofT's. This place is remarkably easy to get lost in - and I am completely okay with that.
With a good night's rest and yesterday firmly behind me, I could fully appreciate this morning just how lovely Oxford and this place fully is. I have fully unpacked (making me unreasonably happy) and am now off to explore all Oxford has to offer.

6 August 2016

Not many pictures today, not much of anything to see - awake early to send off Teagan who had to catch at 7:30 bus, then some time spent working in a coffee shop (which is decidedly more enjoyable when said coffee shop is in Iceland) before heading off for my bus. One delayed bus, hectic airport, and delayed flight later I am now in England - or rather waiting at Border Control. But that Border Control is located in London so I know I am oh so close! Aaaaaand 1.5 hours later, finally leave border control to then (rather unsuccessfully for a while) try to navigate Heathrow (the jungle) airport to eventually work my way to the bus station to take a 1.5 hour (there's a theme here) bus to Oxford where I have now safely settled. Exhausted, and just a little stressed from this day, but the bit of Oxford I saw walking to my new place seems lovely, and my rooms are beautiful - pictures to come once I am again concious. Goodnight from Oxford!

5 August 2016

So due to brilliant Airbnb planning on my part, our last night in Iceland is being spent in a different bnb, located in the small town just outside of Reykjavik, Hafnarfjordur (which sounds, helpfully, nothing like it's spelt). So after a quick breakfast we headed back on the bus (which we are quickly becoming quite adept at navigating) we took the winding path to the adorable seaside town full of colourful houses, a bustling harbour and a creek that cuts through town and ends right outside our front door. With the first rainfall of the trip, we took shelter in a little coffee shop filled with antiques and records and learned and lost (though barely!) gin rummy. After clearing up, we wandered through the little town and then back to the apartment for our mish-mash dinner with the theme of "use up all the food" and then back out to see our last sunset. Tomorrow: on to Oxford!

4 August 2016

At night we headed up to the Perlan, an observation deck looking out on the whole city and (if you stay up there late enough) a gorgeous view of the sunset.
One would think, hope even, that after hiking yesterday we might take it easy today... Not a chance. Out the door after breakfast and back through the city, looking in shops, finding (delicious) bakeries and eventually winding our way to the harbour - which we then walked along for over an hour to get to the town of Seltjarnarnes, home of Grotta Lighthouse. A beautiful little island (connected by a beach at low tide, but completely separate when the water rises) surrounded by rocks and flowers. After spending, perhaps slightly longer than we meant to by the house, we headed back to the beach path to find it quite a bit smaller than it had been - only adding to the adventure of getting back to main land.

3 August 2016

Dinner out; possibly to celebrate our successful hike, possibly because we were to tired to cook. Regardless, delicious Indian food at a cute little restaurant should never need an explanation!
A small restaurant and map marks the base of the mountain and after a brief (possibly too brief) look at the trail options we head up up up. At some point we stopped bothering with that whole "marked trail" business and after about two hours of hiking we reached the top of one of the mountains - exhausted, dusty, but thoroughly pleased with ourselves.
Fully rested and stuffed full of slightly weird tasting bananas, slightly weird tasting peanut butter, and slightly weird tasting (Icelandic yoghurt) off we headed for the days first adventure: trying to figure out the crazy system that is Reykjavik's bus routes. With a somewhat temperamental app, over 20 bus lines and not a single stop name that we could pronounce it is a wonder we ever got on the right bus and headed out of the city to Esja.

2 August 2016

Got in late last night, up early for smoothies and walking to the Reykjavik City Hall, the starting point for our walking tour. Spent the rest of the day wandering the city, taking in the beautiful views and attractions. After dinner at the apartment (and a very confusing grocery run - this language has a lot of vowels!) back out to the harbour to take pictures with Iceland's Midnight Sun.