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The Blog of Photographer Steven Gray

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On holiday...

In case you're not keeping track of my whereabouts, shenanigans and miscellaneous small doings on Facebook, I want to give a quick update/explanation/apology for the sudden absence of my India recap. Before going to India, my sister and I began making plans for a trip to the United Kingdom. Tolkien nerds that we are, we thought that it would be amazing to spend September 22nd (the birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, recognized internationally as Hobbit Day) in Oxford, where both J. R. R. Tolkien and his friend C. S. Lewis taught at Oxford University while writing most of their respective works of literature. We even planned out a note-by-note weekend in which we would visit the authors' graves, C. S. Lewis's Oxford home-cum-scholars' residence, The Kilns, and eat dinner at the historic Eagle and Child Pub, where Tolkien and Lewis' literary group used to meet on Tuesday mornings,

We made some fun plans, but when the mission to India became a reality, I voted that we defer the Britain trip to the spring. However, my sister, being the go-getter that she is, insisted that we go anyway before any more possible life interventions that would make it literally impossible for us to make time to go. As such, after I arrived home from India, I had about three weeks to rest up, suffer through what was left of some lingering stomach problems and pack another bag of clothes before I was back on a plane bound for London for "Steven and Meg's Literary Sojourn," as we affectionately titled our itinerary.

We touched down in London, but our first port of call was Oxford for our celebration of Hobbit Day. I had blocked out four days to scope out Oxford on my way back home from India, but due to the aforementioned stomach problems, I spent most of my time in Oxford commuting between my bed and the water closet. Being as it may, there was still plenty for both of us to discover when my sister and I arrived a month later.

Oxford was a joy; I have discovered that it always is. We followed through in our Hobbit Day plans to the letter, and while at the Eagle and Child, I experienced the utter joy that is English ginger beer. The overall fun of the trip was compounded by our spending time with friends both old and new who reside in Oxfordshire. Leaving Oxford, we traveled back to London, stayed in a bizarre hostel in the Brent borough (seriously, this place was kooky) and continued the literary theme of the trip by visiting points of interest related to Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, including the newly-opened Making of Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, where I noticed for the first time that Dobby had a soul patch. We even found ourselves in the theatre district one night and took in a dynamite show of Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre.

I write this update from Cardiff, where Meg and I have come to see the new Doctor Who Experience at Porth Teigr before we begin working our way northward to visit the Bronte Sisters museum in Yorkshire and finish our trip in Scotland with a ride on the Jacobite Railway and a few more visits to sites of literary interest in Edinburgh. This is my sister's first trip outside of the United States, and I am happy that we have not had a single bad experience apart from the sheer strangeness of our accommodations in London. As hopeless Anglophiles, every day is an adventure for us here, and it has been great to have some time to chill out and catch up after my summer away from the family in India. And, given my previously declared love of breakfast food, I wake up every morning thankful for the glorious experience that is the full English breakfast.

Speaking of India, my posts on that subject will resume as soon as I arrive home. In the meantime, I have a few iPhone snapshots up from our time in Britain thus far. You can be assured a few more (and better) when I get home and dump my camera card.

Silly Walking Through London

Radcliffe Camera

Turf Tavern

Bangers and Mash

Gray's Road!

Lewis' Grave

Tolkien's Grave

Christ Church College Dining Hall

English Breakfast

At the Tower

British Museum

"Sherlock" Filming location

Lea Miserables

The Hogwarts Great Hall set.

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

Cardiff Millennium Stadium