Saturday, October 18, 2014

Little Oxford Things

Living in a new place, particularly in a different country, is interesting. There are some big differences between living in Colorado and living the UK. Things like no free refills, having to ask specifically for tap water so you don't get charged, the huge difference in humidity, the lower level of customer service, the cooler architecture, the increased price of everything. Some things aren't as big and obvious. Sometimes they're just funny, sometimes they're annoying, sometimes they're fun.

Today, I'd like to tell you about some of these little Oxford things.

Our Kitchen Sink
Hot tap water isn't pressurized in most homes in Britain, and our flat is no exception. So to get hot water, one must partake in a little hot-water ritual. You turn the hot water tap all the way forward. 9 times out of ten, nothing happens. 1 time out of 10, you'll get a tiny trickle. Then you turn it 1/4 to 1/2 of the way back. And the water comes on! Give it a second, and it'll get hot. ;) Then turn it all the way back to turn it off. Now, when you use the hot water, you may have to fiddle with the cold tap to get the sink all the way off. And 4 times out of 5, if you use the cold water, you'll have to turn the hot on and then off again to get it to stop dripping.

British Toilets
The British don't understand how to do toilets. End of story. They don't flush well, they don't swirl down in a nice fashion that usually does a decent job of cleaning the bowl, no, it's like this useless sploosh of water from every direction. And lots of toilets like to not flush for a few minutes after about 10 flushes in quick succession. Why? Who knows.

THEY. ARE. EVERYWHERE. And if they weren't so unbelievably stupid, they'd probably be ruling the world by now.

While not as prolific as pigeons, also everywhere. You just kinda walk under it and around it without caring after a short bit.

Geese and Cows
The Thames is behind my flat, yeah? And across the Thames is field, yeah? Beautiful and brilliant, yeah? Sure, except that there is a herd of cows that sometimes grazes over there and like to low, often in the morning. And the geese? The geese like to make a horrendous amount of noise, particularly in the morning. But hey, they can be pretty, and the other day I saw some adorable calves, so...

You know what's brilliant about the system of ordering at a pub? Well, do you know how to order at a pub? So, you and your mates find a table, note the number, figure out what you want to order. Then you go to the bar, give them your table number, place your order, pay, and go sit and wait. This is brilliant, because if you're in a large group YOU DON'T HAVE TO FIGURE OUT SPLITTING THE CHECK. It's beautiful. haha ;)

We've finally gotten rain! And it's been beautiful. I love foggy days. (At least for now.) Conversely, walking down the ever-crowded Oxford streets when EVERYONE, or nearly, is walking about with an umbrella, makes for interesting crowd-weaving.

The British know tea. And tea is everywhere. You can go into most pubs, all cafes, and most restaurants and order tea, and if you're eating (or drinking) in, they'll probably give you a small pot with a cup. Make your tea with the perfect amount of cream and/or sugar. It's positively lovely. On that note, I've gone through just over half of my box of 100 tea bags. Meaning I've drank at least 55 cups of tea since arriving in September. So there's that.

The leaves are finally starting to turn! And the vines are leading the way. Entire sides of buildings are covered in brilliant red. It's breathtaking.

The buildings
On the one hand, the buildings are an obvious feature. On the other hand, I think they're under-appreciated. Not just the big buildings--the libraries and colleges and churches and massive stone structures that I never tire of--but also the houses. Houses with old slate tile roofs. Houses with thatched roofs. Brightly painted doors and cute, brightly painted houses smushed together. Medieval architecture lurking above modern store fronts. Cobblestone side streets. I love it all.

Basically, life in interesting, and I'm loving every minute.


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