22 June 2014

It’s been a good week! The weather has been half-decent and we’ve enjoyed a few outings in the sunshine – a visit to Oxford including the Ashmolean, the covered market and a punt down (and back up) the Cherwell in the sunshine – what more could anyone want?

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, University of Oxford (to give it its full name) is the oldest public museum in the UK and, I think, the world. It was opened in 1683 to house the collection of “curiosities” collected by Elias Ashmole and given to the University in 1677. Their collection of antiquities is half decent but they also host various visiting or temporary exhibitions from time to time. Last Tuesday we took Sallie & Rod for the exhibition on “Cezanne and the Modern” on loan from the Pearlman Foundation.

The exhibition had a wonderful collection of paintings and watercolours by Cezanne as well as paintings and sculptures by artists including Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, Jacques Lipchitz, Edgar Degas and Amedeo Modigliani.


After the exhibition we wandered through the covered market and then made our way to the Cherwell Boathouse for a leisurely punt on the river. We floated down the river to the university parks where we alighted for a spot of lunch from the magnificent picnic Ms Playchute had prepared. Regrettably, we all forgot that we needed to purchase a few baguettes enroute to the picnic. Still, the cheeses were every bit as tasty without the bread even if the various ducks and geese which floated alongside the punt were somewhat perturbed that we had nothing to offer them.

During our picnic we were amazed and delighted to be “disturbed” by a collection of lovely young women in black leotards who put on a balletic performance about twenty metres from where we were picnicking. We guessed they were practising for a performance and it reminded both Penny and I of an incident which perhaps Susie and Ben will also recollect where we were compelled to  “make ourselves look big!” We had a front-row seat for their rehearsal but they scuttled off hurriedly when I stripped off to my underpants and tried to join them.

It was lovely to have Sallie & Rod visit and, as always, it gave us lots of opportunities to get out and about and enjoy a number of entertaining excursions. Unfortunately, I was a bit busy during their visit with the build-up to the annual Bicester Schools’ Film Festival which I help with each year. I’ve written about the Film Festival in the past – the primary aged students from a group of schools in and around Bicester create films which are entered into a “competition.” The films are judged and then the kids and their teachers gather for a Gala Award Ceremony, i.e., the Oscars, where we award trophies and certificates for the best films in each age range, the best animation and the best overall film. This year’s “Oscars” will be held on 3 July – I’ll give you access to the winning films then.

So, I have been ploughing through the films uploading them for the judges and then taking each film and cutting it down to about a 30 second clip which we show during the award ceremony. Some of the films are very clever and very well made but the majority, as you might have guessed, are not exactly Oscar calibre creations. Wading through some of them to try and find an entertaining 30 seconds is somewhat like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack – there’s an awful lot of hay around! Still, it’s good fun and the kids have a blast!

A quick follow-up to the passport processing fiasco which I mentioned briefly last week. Helen Grant, the government minister responsible for tourism and sport, added fuel to the fire by suggesting that it was no bad thing that people hadn’t received their passports in time for their summer holidays abroad.

We have some fantastic places to visit and holiday not that far from here. I think there’s a lot to be said for the ‘staycation’.

Not surprisingly, those who had saved and spent money on flights and hotels were not too impressed with the suggestion that, since their passport applications have not been processed in time, they should simply vacation at home. This comment was particularly galling as the minister is currently swanning around in Brazil enjoying the World Cup at the taxpayer’s expense (and now that England is out of the competition, presumably having a bit of a vacation too).

Finally, all I am going to say about the following is that my mother sent me the link!


Much love to you all,


PS – For those of you who care or follow such events, with England’s extraordinarily early exit from the World Cup finals, Ms Playchute has been proudly reciting a joke she ran across/heard somewhere:

What’s the difference between a tea bag and the English football/soccer team?

The tea bag stays in the cup longer!

Boom, boom.




One thought on “22 June 2014”

  1. Wow, Mom! One needs to be careful about sharing with Greg… you never know what will end up in the family newsletter – or is there something you’d like us to know?

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