10 July 2004

Thursday night, we got the "unseasonal" storms we were expecting all Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the students were already gone (many, maybe most, are in Spain to "run with the bulls"). We had taken the girls to go see the new Harry Potter movie, and when we came out, we had to deal with the downpour, big puddles everywhere, and leaks in our roof in the house. Lightning ("flash") struck on-campus and took out servers and switches, so we didn't get the Internet back until Friday night.

At Thursday dinner, one of the other faculty here, John Tone, told us that his flat was flooded to six inches already! He had rescued some stuff before abandoning the flat. We had him take one of the extra rooms in our house. The College jumped on cleaning out his flat, and they've already pumped out the water and ripped out the old carpet, but John will still be with us for awhile.

Friday, we hung out in the morning (did some Modern Defense practice, went to Sainsbury (grocers)), then went to Blenheim Palace in the afternoon. This is Winston Churchill's family's ancestral home, home to the 11th Duke of Marlborough. It's a huge place! The grounds are something like 2100 acres – there's a maze, and a butterfly house, and water garden, and a waterfall ("cascade"), and a temple of Diana, as well as the huge palace. We decided to split up: All of us did the maze, then Matt and I went to see the Palace while Barb and the girls walked on the grounds and went to the butterfly house. We then met to walk the water garden and cascades, then get ice cream in the gift shop and leave.

The problem was that this was now after five. It was almost a quarter mile walk back to the gate that we entered through, and as we were getting close, we realized that it was closed! We had to go back, out another gate that led through the (really cute!) town of Woodstock, then rush over to the bus stop. We made it in time, but it was a lot of walking.

Matt in front of one of the gates

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In front of the Palace

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At the cascade

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Friday night, Barb and I went out for a date while Matt watched the girls. We went to a local pub for a pint, then took a walk down the canal, then stopped in a cafe for chocolate before heading back. It was lovely!