A Week in the Life…

Last week, Yiri and I attended The Oxford Experience again – a Summer course in Christ Church, Oxford. For five days, we were immersed in an analysis of The Beatles, their music, lyrics and cultural significance. This course was taught by dr. Rikky Rooksby, a true Renaissance Man, who is both schooled as a lecturer on English Literature and an accomplished musician and composer.

Of course I could not help myself doodling – and here are some of the results of my experiments with a blue biro pen:

And here are a few sketches I did of our teacher, Rikky Rooksby:

(It was very hot all week)

(…so hot in fact, that our teacher took off his shoes, which inspired this Abbey Road reference:)

 

It was an awesome experience! A Splendid Time was guearanteed for all.

If you’d like to go on a bit of a special holiday next year, why not consider The Oxford Experience? It’s not cheap, but well worth the money, since you’ll come away with unique memories of staying at a centuries old college, enjoying three meals a day in the beautiful Hall, and being taught by knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers. As well as meeting many fellow students from all over the world. You might even meet me there, since I’ll definitely be back!

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Holiday Pictures

My husband and I have returned from a wonderful two weeks in Oxford, England. We took part in the Oxford Experience, a summer school program based in Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most famous colleges.

The buildings are probably best known for the movies that were (partly) shot here, such as Brideshead Revisited, The Golden Compass and the first three Harry Potter movies. Especially the awesome sixteenth century staircase leading up to Hall is a great location, and I tried to catch some of its lines and dimensions in a drawing, which took me three sessions to complete! That’s probably the longest I’ve ever taken over a single drawing – and I even left out quite a lot of detail.

I don’t often make drawings like this, I’m more used to my cartoony style. But the Christ Church architecture just really caught me – and it’s a great excuse to sit in one place for an hour or so and take it all in. This is a view in Christ Church Cathedral, where I attended a great trumpet concert:

All throughout Christ Church there are bowler-hatted men and women to herd the tourists into their specified routes. They are ever friendly and impeccably dressed:

The first week, we attended a course about Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which was written here. Our tutor was expert Edward Wakeling, collector, consultant, researcher, and writer on all things Carroll – not only a very knowledgeable man, but also immensely entertaining, full of riddles and jokes. I drew him as the Mad Hatter, with lots of references to the book and its writer:

The class consisted of a very international crowd – people from Australia, USA, Japan and Canada. After five days of total Alice-immersion, we were all inhabitants of Wonderland:

 

In the second week, we took part in the course ‘Human Memory and the Brain’, by neuroscientist prof. Gillie McNeill, who was as wise as she was enthusiastic. For another five days, we learned all about brain structure, history of brain studies, different types of memory and things you can do to keep your mind healthy (taking a course in the Oxford Experience was one of them). I made a whole bunch of cartoons during this class, which I will put up later – here’s a little preview:

At the end of our studies, we enjoyed a great formal Farewell – starting with drinks in the Cathedral Garden and ending with an amazing dinner in Hall, during which we received our certificates and heard some speeches about the Oxford Experiences and former Christ Church students (the college boasts twelve British prime ministers!). This is what we looked like in our snazzy outfits, against the centuries-old background:

 

Now it’s back to “normal” life, and anticipating the publication date of Science: a Discovery in Comics, which is not far off anymore…!

The Oxford Experience

My ideal vacation? GOING TO SCHOOL. Well, not just ANY school. My husband and I are enjoying a week’s stay in Christ Church College, the biggest college of Oxford University, where we are taking classes every morning on the subject of English Country Houses.

Me, student at Christ Church College

But we’re mainly here for the food, which is extremely good, and served in the astonishingly beautiful Hall that served as a model for the Great Hall in Hogwarts.

Christ Church College Dining Hall

Many places in the college have been used to shoot the Harry Potter movies. It’s easy to see why: there’s a mixture of imagination and magic here. In all of Oxford actually: it’s the city that boasts the most published writers per square mile; it’s here that Middle Earth took shape, and Narnia – and now it’s home to us, and this is where we’re staying:

The Top Floor Room is ours!

(I figured out this balcony is the ACTUAL balcony from Brideshead Revisited – where a drunken Anthony Blanche recites poetry from)

Couldn’t be happier.

The classes are wonderful, all about old english houses, why people built them, how they lived in them, how they treated their staff. It’s illuminated by many slides and films. We sit in the back and are secretly doodling, like we did in high school. Except now we don’t get punished for it, but admired by our kind classmates. Which is nice.

Here’s what I doodled so far:

Fantasy house

 

Country house dress

 

Country house bath

 

A myth laid to rest: inhabitants of the early castles in Britain actually never used boiling oil to repel their opponents.

 

More fantasy houses. Although there is a Victorian dog house in here that actually exists.

 

Word of the day: CRENELLATE. “To supply with battlements”.
In the sixteenth century you were not to crenellate without permission from the king, on pain of execution.
*Now You Know!*

 

The Delaval Family of Seaton Delaval were also called “the Gay Delavals”.
They loved playing practical jokes on their guests, like putting chickens in their bed.
One of the Delavals died when falling down the front stairs, dead drunk.
*Now You Know!*

 

This programme is called The Oxford Experience and I should really let the whole world know it’s an excellent way to spend your holidays: it’s a 5-star hotel combined with the best teachers you’ve ever known, amongst an international crowd that is enthusiastic and interesting.

But I think I won’t.

This will be our secret holiday (re)treat for years to come, wouldn’t want it spoiled by hordes of other people. So: DON’T COME! It’s Horrible! And who in his right mind would want to go to SCHOOL in their vacations anyway…?!