Monday, December 30, 2013

a frandsen christmas, part two.

like i said before, a frandsen christmas is a good christmas. this post is mainly a smattering of a couple random little groups of photos i took in the days before & after christmas.

here are the gifts ben & i gave to various members of the family. basically, my gift-wrapping vision is to get the presents to resemble parcels anne shirley would have received as much as possible.

a few pictures of what the tree presiding over the gifts looked like:

the frandsens have amassed a truly impressive collection of diverse and beautiful nativities. i only captured a small fraction of the many set up all over the house. i love that this collection represents the incredible variety of ways such a sacred scene can be depicted. sometimes it's hard for me to decide which i like better: a colorful, intricately-decorated nativity such as this first one...

...something uniform in color & style like these two...

...or an incredibly simple depiction, consisting of only a few shapes, lines & details, like this one:

christine just mentioned tonight that this frandsen trip is unique in that the men outnumber the women, when it seems to tend to be the other way around. all of the four frandsen sons are here (& us two wives & kiddos), so lots of guys around. but us girls took some time on christmas day (or it might have been the day before? or the day after?) to have a quick little tea party in the backyard, all set up by lucy! we even drank actual cinnamon apple herbal tea out of a little tea set. add in some girl talk (ie NOT about physics or maths, which is what the guys' conversation often starts to evolve into...i mean, don't get me wrong, i LOVE discussions of math theorems & whatnot as much as the next girl :) & i'd say this tea party was a grand success:

& please for everyone to notice lucy's fabulous outfit. a close-up of her ensemble is a mere few pictures away. get excited!

tiny cups = much delicacy

i left the part with the firm belief & conviction that tea parties need to happen more often ("did my jane austen class this last semester teach me nothing?!," i said to myself) & to consider incorporating a satin-y white skirt-as-veil piece into my wardrobe ASAP.

london calling: particularly british things.

this post is full of photos i took various days of our trip & compiled into one big post about things that seem particularly british, & therefore delightful & enjoyable.

maltesers, anyone?

remember in the colin firth/five hour/bbc pride & prejudice (you know you've heard that movie described in each of those ways!) when jane is visiting the bingley sisters? she had ridden there in the rain, & is at lunch with them & tells them her uncle lives (or was it works?) on gracechurch street? right after that is when she gets pretty sick (but still daintily so, as in all she does is put her utensils down & kind of rubs her temple) & the one sister is all, "foster, call for help, miss bennet is unwell." well, WE FOUND GRACECHURCH ST:

we saw these blue signs all over the place, all these commemorations of some historical thing that happened in the spot that's now a starbucks or something. we saw the signs all over the place because basically anywhere you go in london, something historically important happened there:

"unsuitable for coaches." let's all take a moment to let this sign sink in:

& quite possibly the best sign we saw there: "the secret life of walter mitty: IN CINEMAS BOXING DAY."

stop for a sec & observe what all a full english breakfast consists of. ben ordered a full english breakfast once while we were there...& he said it was good!

found this friendly piece in a bookstore:

we think we know what bollards are:

mulled wine! so christmas-y.

that's it! that's all. thus concludes my series of particularly british things. there were so many more particularly british things we saw during our trip, but i kind of slacked & wasn't as camera-happy as i perhaps should have been. i think this also concludes all of the posts of our london trip! we miss it already - & already have a list of sites & experiences we didn't have time to do this trip, that we would love to do if we're ever lucky enough to go back. cheers.

london calling: oxford university.

a quick, quick break from christmas festivities to document the final days of our trip!

for our last full day of london-ing, we knew we wanted to take a trip up to either oxford or cambridge. we've had friends give us zealous references for both universities, but ultimately we decided on oxford, for semi-sentimental reasons. we almost went there for ben's phd...twice! ben was accepted there this one time (the same time period in which he was accepted to columbia), & then this other time in a completely different situation he almost received a dang nice scholarship to go there. so we thought we'd go check it out to see what might have been...& also because it's the oldest university in the english-speaking world, it's an incredibly beautiful campus, etc. there's still a chance we'll go there for ben's science-making sometime in the future...time will tell. time will tell.

the train ride to oxford was about an hour, so we settled in with some hot chocy-choc, books, & some grandparents in the seats next to us who traveled with their two grandchildren, one of whom spilled their drink not once, but twice. it was all okay, though, because the little kids had british accents, & have you heard little kids speak with british accents? basically the most adorable thing ever.

from the train station at oxford to campus is maybe a five-minute walk. behold some of the things we passed on the walk:

this pretty pretty tree-and-river-and-bridge scene:

& then once we came a little closer to campus:

this photo would have been so perfect if it weren't for that huge smudge on the window on my face. the smudge, of course, makes the photo even more perfect:

a production of seven brides for seven brothers happening on campus. who knew?!

there were a few nice long stretches of street to stroll down. i liked this street because it represents so well the juxtaposition between modern & ancient oxford is full of. the campus itself is cobblestone, medieval sand-colored buildings that feel kind of yentl-y, scraggly trees & foggy wide fields that make you feel like you've been plopped right into a scene of wuthering heights, & quiet, ancient churches. but then outside of campus the streets are full of, like, gap & j. crew, bookstores & tourist-y shops that sell oxford hats & little phone-booth magnets, & things like this glass of fake ale that says "cheers from oxford":

anyway, a very interesting juxtaposition between old & new:


we found this little christmas village down one of the streets, & took some pictures of it all. i deleted all of them because this post was feeling a little too long, but i could not bring myself to lower the axe on this truly wondrous & priceless image taken in the market:

so perfect, right?? additionally, here are some of the nice things one would come across in the streets somewhat outside campus:


this building was light pink, i repeat, THIS BUILDING WAS LIGHT PINK:

this house was a salmon-y/rust joy:

also these three pastel dreams, like strawberry, vanilla bean, & pistachio ice cream:

i could live in any one of these, at any time:

a mini cooper & a telephone booth all in one photo wins all:

& even further up our walk:

i'm just dying over the beautiful little red crest on the right:

we (well, not "we" really, more like "ben" but it was okay) simply had to stop in at this gem of a location:

once inside the museum:

& once formally on campus, we were overwhelmed by the exquisite grandeur of our surroundings. you can just feel that you're in a stately place. there's a heavy silence, but a good kind of heavy silence - perhaps the best word for it is a reverence. long story short - we fell in love with oxford!

we visited the bodleian library, which is one of the oldest libraries in britian & second largest in size only to the british library. students & scholars call it either "the bodley" or just "the bod," apparently. love it:

i was really enjoying the various doors to be found inside the courtyard of "the bod":

this was also spotted in the center of the courtyard:

but "the bod" isn't without its sense of humor. here are just a few of the books we found inside (granted, this was in the gift shop, not the actual library [one has to have a student i.d. to enter the actual library], but it was all still funny):

we popped into st. mary's church (officially called the university church of st. mary the virgin). a space for worship has been on that site for almost a thousand years! i checked out the wikipedia page on it & there is even more cool information about the church than i thought. read about it here!

notice all the plaques & commemorations on the walls underneath the stained glass?

the signs said stuff like this:

i was trying to look solemn, but looking at it now, i realize i actually look sad/melancholy:

i loved this church, actually. it was quiet, beautiful, & we were allowed to take pictures (which, sometimes i can understand why places don't want people to take pictures, but then on the other hand sometimes i think, we paid lots for a plane ticket, we paid lots for a train ticket, i've made it to this amazing/special place now & i want to be able to take some pictures so i can remember it all after i leave!! you know?? but maybe that's just me. discuss.)

i mean, kind of wuthering heights though in these next several pictures, though, right? 

oh you know, here's me just sitting on a bench in the fog waiting for my own modern-day heathcliff, who manages to be both a dark, mysterious byronic hero and, you know, emotionally available & supportive at the same time (who would be fine to just be friends, bc i'm married to ben & all):

again, i'm really enjoying those red crests (or shields?) there on the right:

at the end of the day we attended evensong at christchurch (which is another one of the churches on campus). this was really cool for a couple of reasons - the evensong was beautiful, & christchurch was the location they used as inspiration for/to film the great hall in harry potter & several other scenes. while we were in the cathedral, not the hall, it was all still so, so beautiful & a perfect way to end the day. i mean, check out the ceiling!

gorgeous! oxford university gave us a good, good day.


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