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Tag Archives: Balliol college

Appreciate the humdrum

We all know time is precious, a limited, one-use only resource which should be treasured. But to know something, and to live by it are two very different beasts, so no one can be blamed for slipping into a regular rhythm which doesn’t necessarily encourage moments to stop and smell the roses…after all you see those roses every day, why pause? In the rush of the waking day it’s often hard to find time to to reflect, observe an appreciate, but every now and again life offers a pass to something supremely special…extra time, unexpected time, time which should have been taken up by regularity but suddenly all plans go to the dogs and you’re left with a void. Usually I have all my time planned to the last hour, desperate to make the most of it, but not today. Today the electricity went off at work, it was a planned outage, so everyone knew they would have the morning off; a blissful few hours in which to lie in, read a chapter or two of a book, catch up on that Amazon prime series you’re hooked on, and get chores done. I managed all four before my leisurely stroll to the office via a coffee shop just in case the kettles were still out of action once I arrived. They were. As were the lights, heat and computers. Voila, the morning off became a day off, but now rather than being home with a list of things I ‘should’ be doing, I found myself in town with the blissful possibility of an afternoon of unexpected time. 
There’s almost always something going on in Oxford; this is one of the key benefits of living in a tourist destination. Luckily, as part of a plan to spend each day in this city as though it were the last I had already checked the listings of what was going on this week…the trouble was they were almost all 10-5, there was no way I’d get there after work. But now, free time, no barriers, bliss.

An afternoon of meandering, drinking in, stopping to watch the guy chiselling a piece of stone to go into the floor of the museum…right in the middle of everyone watching the exhibits, I wonder how many people saw him. An hour to appreciate local photographers, time to read the blurb about seeking new members, time to enjoy a coffee and read the last of chapters of that book. Moments to pause and wonder how these buildings came to be…they’re so higgildy piggildy and non-uniform, who designed them? Why so narrow? I visited a college for the first time, Bailiol, and spent time chatting to Alan the porter, a really lovely guy who was filled with stories and random facts about the place. He makes it his task to know all 400 undergraduates by name, so they always have a friendly face to come home to. Porters are some of the best things about a college I’ve found, they’re what students and visitors remember. Alan was certainly LMH quality, and that’s a sincere compliment to both! 

One of my plans for 2017 is to spend more time appreciating this city, live each day in it like it may be the last one of that date spent here. I feel like January 5th 2017 was spent enjoying some of the best of Oxford. Tomorrow the power is off again, I wonder what I’ll get up to this time.