|My turn to punt!|
|Enjoying a beautiful afternoon on the river|
Later in the afternoon, Blackfriars hosted its annual end-of-year garden party, which featured the traditional Oxford treats of Pimm's and strawberries. It was a gorgeous afternoon to spend outdoors, and it was wonderful to see all of the other students from the hall as well as the friars and other tutors.
|Blackfriars Garden Party|
|Me, Robert, and Nathan in the Blackfriars Gardens|
After the garden party and a short respite for the Dominicans to celebrate Mass and say Vespers, we reconvened inside Blackfriars (it had started to rain - typical English weather) for the first (hopefully) annual Blackfriars Ball. Blacktie balls are a big Oxford tradition, and most colleges and halls host a ball every year, but this was Blackfriars's first attempt, and it proved to be a great night! We had dinner in the refectory and then enjoyed dessert and drinks in the aula (the main hall of Blackfriars) where we were treated to a live band! A number of Blackfriars students worked extremely hard to put together a very enjoyable night. It was the perfect way to end the term at Blackfriars!
|A toast at the Blackfriars Ball |
(Photo by Br. Lawrence Lew, O.P.)
|PC Students and Alumni at the Ball|
(Photo by Br. Lawrence Lew, O.P.)
On Saturday, Nathan, Robert, and I took off early in the morning for a day of exploring in London. We took the bus from Oxford to London and then set off on our adventures! We visited most of the normal famous sites, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Hall of Parliament and Big Ben, and St. Paul's Cathedral.
|Nathan and me in front of Buckingham Palace|
We also made a visit to the British Museum, where we only spent about an hour and a half but could easily have spent several days! They have such a vast collection of art and archaeology - I even managed to see all the statues from the pediments of the Parthenon that I didn't get to see when I was in Athens earlier this year (during the eighteenth century, many ancient Greek statues and scultptures were removed by the British after Athens was in ruins as a result of the Ottoman wars).
|A shot of the Parliament Building|
We also visited the Globe Theatre, where many of William Shakespeare's plays were originally performed. The theatre has since been renovated and is still used for performances.
|Me and Nathan in front of the Globe Theatre|
|Robert, me, and Nathan overlooking |
the Thames and St. Paul's Cathedral
After a very full day of exploring and much walking (you get to see so much more of the city when you walk rather than take the subway), we stopped at a local pub for fish & chips and headed back to Oxford for the night.
On Sunday, we went to Mass at the Oratory in the morning and made some delicious omelettes for brunch. In the afternoon, we took part in the annual Oxford Corpus Christi procession. Nathan and I were actually pressed into service by one of the organizers of the procession to carry banners, and I ended up leading the whole procession through the streets of Oxford! It was an absolutely gorgeous day (it was actually quite hot by Oxford standards - I think it broke 80 degrees!) as we walked from the Oxford Oratory down St. Giles - one of the main roads in Oxford - to the chapel Blackfriars for a sermon and then on to the University's Catholic chaplaincy. There were probably about 300 people taking part in the procession as we walked through the streets singing hymns (there was even a full brass band for accompaniment) and praying. As the first person in the procession, it was amusing to see the looks of confused people on the streets as they saw a throng of 300 people with banners and candles marching down the street singing hymns!
|Leading the Oxford Corpus Christi Procession|
|The Blessed Sacrament carried under the canopy|
|A shot of the procession as it passes through Oxford|
|There was even a bass brand to accompany the hymns!|
At the conclusion of the procession, there was a reception at the chaplaincy, where I was able to say farewell to many of the great friends that I had made at the chaplaincy and at the Oratory. After that, Nathan, Robert, and I grabbed some ice cream to cool down and explored a bit in the gardens and meadows of Christ Church College and went to choral Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral (another Oxford experience we couldn't let Robert miss!). Yesterday was also Robert's 21st birthday, so we celebrated with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant called the Mitre, which is located on the High Street, right in the center of the city.
After such a busy weekend, I'm exhausted, but there is still much packing and last minute errands to be done before taking off for home tomorrow!