Making good use of our last day in Oxford

We have moved into London for the last two games in the Rugby World Cup 2015. The Bronze Final game on Friday night was not the wide open running game we had hoped for from the Argentina Pumas and the South African Springboks. The South Africans won 24-13 with Argentina collecting a converted try with time run out. The Pumas had possession much of the time but the South African defense kept them from gaining much yardage until right at the end when it didn’t matter much.

Kathy at high tea.
Kathy at high tea.

We are hoping for more from the Final today between New Zealand and Australia.

But more about the games later. Let’s go back to Thursday, our last full day in Oxford. We wanted to do some of the things we had not got to before heading into London on Friday.

That included a musical event at the Holywell Music Hall. It so happened on Thursday that meant listening to a mezzo soprano and a soprano singing selections from Shubert. No complaints.

Before getting to the concert, we had a light lunch at the Jericho Cafe, a popular spot near our flat that didn’t get the attention from us that it probably should have in the eight weeks we were in Oxford.

One more picture of the Bodleian Library.
One more picture of the Bodleian Library.

After the concert, it was off to Brown’s Brassiere for high tea. A bit of shopping in the central part of the city and then a farewell meal at the Brassiere Blanc, also near our apartment in the Jericho area of Oxford.

What with wandering between events and taking some more photographs, it was a proper goodbye to a place that we loved from the moment we arrived. And we left plenty undone for a return visit.

Modern museums specialize in sensory overload

This statue of Churchill is near the Churchill Museum and Imperial War Rooms.
This statue of Churchill is near the Churchill Museum and Imperial War Rooms.

“We shall never surrender,” Winston Churchill said, but for me, the time has come to surrender to modern museums.

There was a time when you could go to a museum and study every exhibit, read every plaque, absorb most, if not all, of what the museum had to offer.

Some museums were too big to assail, even in the old days of plaques and displays. Absorbing a fraction of what the British Museum has to offer is a life’s work. Same with the Louvre, the Smithsonian, the Ashmolean here in Oxford, or the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, to name some that I have visited.

This mode of transportation passed me on the way to the museum.
This mode of transportation passed me on the way to the museum.

But in all of those places it used be that “had we but time enough,” we could run our eyes over everything on display, take in all the words posted before those exhibits. You might run out of life and time, but theoretically it was possible to take it all in.

Not any more.

This first started to become clear to me at the Bletchley Park museum. Audio and film or video commentaries have been in museums for some time. Now add to that digital interactive displays that let you try your hand at cracking the Nazi Enigma code from World War II. It’s overwhelming and comes at you through all senses.

It was the same in the Churchill Museum and Imperial War Rooms. With your 18 pound admission fee you are given an audio console you can wear around your neck. Arrive at numbered positions and you can key in that number to hear a narrative of what took place at that spot. The rooms have been left as they were in 1945 when World War II ended. So you can see and feel what life was like in these narrow corridors and cramped rooms. Add to that the sound of bombs going off as they were during the Blitz of 1940 and the shrill noise of V-1 and V-2 rockets in 1945 and you get a sense of the discomfort and trepidation that occupants must have felt.

Walk into other rooms and there are videos of film taken during the war, others of war-room workers relating their experiences, kiosks where you can play Churchill’s speeches or select his witticisms (“A modest man, who has much to be modest about”) by the year uttered, photographs from Churchill’s life and from the war fronts. The epitome of museum overload comes at what I would call a “light table” that starts with Churchill’s birth in 1874 and goes through his death in 1965. Place your hand on one of the years displayed on this yards-long table and text is displayed about what happened to Churchill and in the world during that year. In some of the years, you can go month-to-month.

As you walk along reading all this, you notice out of the corner of your eye other screens with videos going, hear other narratives, see posters from the war years, are tempted to go here, go there.

This is not meant as a complaint about the Churchill Museum or other modern museums. It’s just a declaration of surrender to them. I know I’ll never be able to “conquer” all that these places have to offer, now displayed to all senses in all parts of the museum, all running simultaneously.

Affirmation that there is so much to know and so little time to know it.

As a former Duck captain, I can't help but take pictures of them when I see them in other cities -- despite the tragic accident in Seattle.
As a former Duck captain, I can’t help but take pictures of them when I see them in other cities — despite the tragic accident in Seattle.

Some days you just want to take a walk. So we did

Bridge over the Cherwell River.
Bridge over the Cherwell River.

After a weekend that included two train trips into and out of London, a visit to the Churchill Museum and War Rooms (more on that later) and two semi final matches in the Rugby World Cup, a quiet day was called for.

The Victoria Arms pub.
The Victoria Arms pub.

Up late. Coffee. Read The Guardian. Peruse maps and guidebooks. Ponder the weather outside and decide if it would be a good day for a quiet walk.

It was.

We’ve had this one on the wish list for some time, waiting for today, the right day. So off we went through the University Park in North Oxford, across the Cherwell River, past some of the colleges’ athletic fields, through Old Marston village and up to the Victoria Arms pub, the turnaround point for the walk.Victoria Sign

Of course, Kathy had to have a pint of Corvus Stout and I had to have my tea. The weather was nice enough we could sit outside on the deck.

After the proper amount of languishing, we set off along the Cherwell until we returned to the foot bridge back into University Parks.

A nice day.

Kathy on the deck of the Victoria Arms pub.
Kathy on the deck of the Victoria Arms pub.

Australia moves ahead to RWC Final against New Zealand

Drew Mitchell wound his way through the Argentina defense, breaking tackles and sending a pass out to Adam Ashley-Cooper for his third try of the game.
Drew Mitchell, No. 11, wound his way through the Argentina defense, breaking tackles and sending a pass out to Adam Ashley-Cooper for his third try of the game.

Penalty kicks aren’t enough.  Six of them didn’t do it  for South Africa against New Zealand Saturday, and five didn’t work for Argentina on Sunday against Australia.

Ashley-Cooper scores his third try of the game.
Ashley-Cooper scores his third try of the game.

A team needs tries to win, and Australia had plenty of them — three from Adam Ashley-Cooper alone and another from Rob Simmons, who started the scoring for Australia with an intercepted pass and a gallop in for a try just more than a minute into the game. Bernard Foley converted three of those tries for another six points and added a penalty kick for three more, giving Australia a 29-15 win.

Argentina had trouble moving the ball into Australian territory and could only collect penalty points on five kicks by Nicolas Sanchez.

Australia will play New Zealand on Saturday, Oct. 31, in the finals of the Rugby World Cup 2015. That Southern Hemisphere showdown will be back here at Twickenham.

Argentina will meet South Africa, who lost to New Zealand 20-18, in the Bronze Final on Friday night at the Olympic Stadium in London.

Australia plays in Argentina half, lead 19-9 at the break

Adam Ashley-Cooper scores his first of two tries for Australia in the first half. The Wallabies lead 19-9 at half.
Adam Ashley-Cooper scores his first of two tries for Australia in the first half. The Wallabies lead 19-9 at half.

Australia’s Rob Simmons got the scoring started early in their semi final match against Argentina in the Rugby World Cup with his interception of a Puma pass. A second row grabbing a pass in the Argentina back line and galloping in for five points — not something you see everyday from a tight-five forward.

Bernard Foley converted the try as he would do again at 10 minutes into the game when Australia took advantage of a silly attempt by Argentina for a quick penalty that resulted in an Australian scrum, clean ball out to the backs and Adam Ashley-Cooper away to score in the corner.

He would score another try 10 minutes before half, but Foley could not convert.

Argentina played most of the half in their own territory and could only manage three penalty kicks by Nicolas Sanchez and go into the second half down 19-9.

Argentina fans and players spirted, but Aussies lead 14-3 early

The Argentina fans are the happiest I’ve seen in the tournament, lots of singing and dancing before the game here at Twickenham for this semi final match in the Rugby World Cup.

But the Pumas gave up an early converted try on an interception by Aussie second row Rob Simmons. At 10 minutes into the match, Australia has clean ball out from a set, finds the overlap and Adam Ashley-Cooper scores in the corner. Bernard Foley kicks the conversion and Wallabies lead 14-3.

New Zealand adds a drop kick, a converted try and a penalty to win 20-18

New Zealand kept South Africa far away from their try line. The Springboks only socring came on six penalty kicks.
New Zealand kept South Africa far away from their try line. The Springboks only socring came on six penalty kicks.

New Zealand had to use all ways of scoring to get ahead of South Africa early in the second half and then gradually inch just ahead of them to full time for a 20-18 win in the first semi final match of the Rugby World Cup 2015.

That puts the All Blacks in the finals against the winner of tomorrow’s game between Australia and Argentina.

All of South Africa’s scoring came on penalty kicks, five by Handre Pollard and one by Patrick Lambie.