19 July 2004
The AniAniWeb was down over the weekend (it worked, but I couldn't edit any pages), so I'm catching up for several days here.
Saturday, 18 July 2004:
We didn't really do much today, as we were mostly waiting for my parents and Brian to get in from London. Through a series of miscommunications, my folks got in earlier than we expected, didn't find us, and went to their hotel.
When we finally got all in Saturday afternoon, we decided to go to mass at Blackfriars at 6:15. (Now the kids know that a 30 minute mass exists!) We picked up various pastries and sandwiches and pizza for dinner, and ate at our place. I then walked the folks and Brian up to the bus stop to head back to their Holiday Inn.
Sunday, 19 July 2004:
Folks got in, we had a (quick!) lunch, then caught the train for Warwick to visit Warwick castle. (That's where we're at in the new picture at the left.)
It was about a 45 minute train ride to Warwick, which is this small, cute town. It reminded me some of Strathaven, in terms of lots of small shops and fairly rural (e.g., the train station was in a field). We walked a few blocks up to the castle, which has this impressive walkway with high stone walls on either side.
Then Wow! – there they are! The MASSIVE lines for tickets!
This was a different experience than Edinburgh or Blenheim. This is run by the Tussaud organization (ala famous wax galleries), and this was meant to be like an amusement park experience for the family. (They push pretty hard on the season passes and the passes to all the Tussaud parks.) It's still about the history, but it's also much about entertainment.
Matt wanted to do the dungeon, so I stayed in line (30 minutes! to see a hole in the ground!), while Barb took the girls and Grandpa to see the jousting match, and Brian and Mom went to see the castle. Matt and I have similar tastes in what we want to see and for how long, so we ended up going through everything: From the exhibits with the wax figurines from the medieval era, to the exhibits with the wax figurines of Winston Chuchill and the 9th Duke of Marlborough. (It's funny – I'm actually sure about that number! 'cause he's the one who married Consuelo Vanderbilt and fixed up the Blenheim, but then they divorced...it's easy to get into history here!)
(This picture is funny because Matt, as "Tom of Warwick" in our church production of Camelot got knighted by King Arthur at the end. Here, I tried to get it so that it looks like Matt is getting "knighted" by the wax figurine of the Duke of Warwick.)
My favorite part was walking the wall around the castle. Towers and walls that really do date back to the medieval ages are pretty cool.
We ate at (again, cute) pub near the train station, then caught the train that had us back by 7 pm. Brian and I rushed back to get the theatre tickets (correct spelling for Britain :-), and we went to see Into the Woods.
It turned out that this particular production was a stunt for a charity. The charity we knew about, the stunt part was (to keep costs down) the performers had only rehearsed for 48 hours. A musical of that complexity with that little rehearsal. It was really quite well done, considering that, though there were several missed cues and a very funny special effect (birds that Cinderella talked to) that kept appearing at the wrong time and looked really bad, so it was hilarious. (I think it was on purpose.) The girls loved it, and stayed awake to the very end (around midnight). Another late night.
Monday 19 July:
Okay, caught up now. This morning, I went to breakfast alone (as you might imagine :-) and had coffee with Bob McMath. Bob is the Vice Provost for undergraduate education, so sort-of my boss's boss (Dean to Provost's office) for the education side of what I do. Bob asked if he could sit in on my class, which I was (honestly) very pleased to agree to – I'm proud of the class, and of the work of these students, so I looked forward to the opportunity to show off both.
Class went well – we did databases and started on media shifting. I hope to write soon about how the class is going, which is really pretty amazing. Only two students have each missed one class so-far. Until Homework 4 (audio collage) every student had got an A on every assignment. (I strongly believe that those two sentences are related.) I'm really excited about it.
At afternoon office hours, almost half my class showed up – for help on the midterm, on understanding homework, etc.
While I was gone, the rest of them saw Oxford. Brian took the below of Barb and the kids in the gardens, I think at Christ Church College.
Right now it's nearly 10 pm. I went to the faculty meeting until late (discussing computer arrangements at Worcester for future programs with Bob McMath and Carole Moore, who runs this program), around 8:30 pm. I've been working on grading and catching up here, while Barb and the kids go swimming at the Holiday Inn where Brian and my folks are.
Tomorrow is a big day: High Table at 5:30 (I read the Latin blessing before Mass! GULP!), then Garden Party at our house with croquet.