Brighton Beach

Everybody loves the beach–clearly, as every student decided to save their homework for another day and come to Brighton Beach. About a two-hour drive from Oxford, it’s a pebble beach with lots to do. On the waterfront, there are arcades, amusement, and Regency-era architecture. Brighton Pier opened in 1899 and has delicious-smelling carnival food and exciting rides.

But what was most different from Oxford was the beach! And students enjoyed laying out in the sun, taking photos together, and even swimming in the Atlantic.

Back at home, students enjoyed the entertainment of Tony Rae, the Chairman of the British Council of Hypnotists. Tony persuaded hypnotized students to flee from imaginary sharks, cuddle up in the Antarctic, and race in the Silverstone Circuit. After the show, students chatted to the volunteers about how much they remembered!


An Active Friday

Although there’s not a gym on campus here at Lady Margaret Hall, we like to keep in shape.

It’s become a bit of a Friday tradition to go punting on the river that’s conveniently behind our residence. Sometimes, it takes a bit of paddling, but we think the students are getting better at using the pole!

In the evening, we finally got the rain we’ve been expecting all summer. Unfortunately, this coincided with our walk to the Oxford Ice Rink! It dampened our clothes, but not our spirits! And when they shut off the lights and turned up the music for a disco skate session, the smiles were bigger than ever!

No 42nd St in Oxford

There’s no 42nd Street in Oxford, but there is in London! But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Around here, Thursdays are great for taking a breath before diving into the weekend. A group of students got to cross off a true Oxford must-see: St. Mary’s Tower. This viewpoint, although narrow and very cramped, has the best view of Oxford, bar none. In fact, it’s so iconic that it is the Wikipedia cover photo for Oxford!

The evenings are cooling off, and there’s no better way to celebrate that than a pajama party. Students gathered in the common room to “Netflix and PJs” with some pizza delivery. Stepbrothers isn’t a British movie, but it was fun nonetheless.


But maybe the most exciting part of the day was our second London theatre trip. On this optional extra, students saw 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. With classics like “We’re in the Money” and “I Only Have Eyes For You”, entertainment doesn’t get much bigger!

Bats and Clubs

One of the best things about having Oxford professors teach with us year after year is the way they can collaborate. Today, two afternoon workshops worked together to show students how different subjects can interrelate. The subject was the British sport of cricket.

Sports and Fitness is the obvious venue for learning the rules of cricket. However, their team competed against the Voyages in Afternoon Tea class! Not surprising, really, when you think about how iconic tea and cricket are to the British mindset.

Maybe the match was team against team, but maybe it was more British professor vs. British professor. Either way, the Afternoon Tea team was victorious!

Everyone else got the chance to get sweaty at Summerfuel Club Night. The Bridge Club welcomes us every year to an under-18 party, along with several other programs. It’s hot, it’s crowded, but it’s a lot of fun!

Two professional DJs mixed familiar tunes for everyone to dance to.

After all that, everyone’s pretty tired, but at least there are only morning classes tomorrow!

Learning in London

Summerfuel Oxford teachers took a well-deserved day off and let museums do the educating! We drove up to Exhibition Road and split students’ time between two galleries based on their morning seminars and afternoon workshops.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is so vast that it defies categorization, but most people put it under “arts and design”. Exhibits inside range from West End theatre costumes to South Asian carvings, and stock everything in between.

The Science Museum, although just as fascinating, couldn’t be more different. Its exhibits focus on the history, application, and even the future of science. Spoiler alert: the next big source of energy will be “poo”.

And museums aren’t the only place to gain authentic experience. Harrod’s department store was a great spot for the Marketing class to analyze strategies and plans. Not to mention, a good place for souvenirs and makeup!

If today wasn’t full enough, we still had a round of evening activities to complement the trip to London. Some students attended an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (look forward to a separate post soon). Others attended Bill Spectre’s famous Ghost Tour of Oxford, complete with thrills and chills!

Activities and an Academic Seminar

Today in brief:

Students enjoyed some afternoon cream tea and scones in town at noon today- a great way to relax after morning classes!

Through a few short quizzes students were able learn more about themselves, their traits and their overall personality types. 

After that, student representatives were able to give feedback on their courses and speak for their floors about what they want to see from or enjoy about our program.

The highlight was today’s guest speaker, Sarah Jinks. Based at St. Clare’s College, Sarah is a specialist biology teacher and an Oxford graduate! In her post-graduate work she investigated the student as a `risk taker’. Tonight’s seminar discussed women scientists from the past, from Caroline Herschel – who discovered several comets – to Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, who deciphered the structure of insulin.

Finally, students ended the night with a game out on the LMH fields. It was “kind of like American football, but with goalies”. Oh, also, the ball was about four feet in diameter. Not really sure what to call it, but it looked fun!

Broughton Castling

We visited a castle today! Does that sound like last Sunday, when we visited Blenheim Palace? Maybe, but our students will probably tell you that it was a totally different experience.

Broughton Castle is still the operating residence of Lord & Lady Saye and Seale, which makes it feel much more cosy than the formidable Blenheim Palace. Also, while Blenheim was built in the 18th century, Broughton dates back to the early 1200s and has been in the same family since 1377!

The castle also has a star-studded history: it was used as the filming site for Shakespeare in Love and the 2011 film version of Jane Eyre. However, it never felt too imposing, especially when the Lord of the manor greeted us and gave us a personal talk on its history and workings.

A great place to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon, drink some tea from the stable cafe, and put off doing weekend homework. Well, maybe not that last part.

Options in London

Our third trip into London together found us split over four different locations. About half the students chose the photogenic Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Both of these are great places to learn about the history of London, and also famous sights to see!

The rest of the group visited the decidedly less spectacular (at least from the outside) Tate Modern to view some contemporary works from around the world. After that, they were dropped off at the alternative Camden Market for infamously instagrammable food and souvenirs.

In the evening, it was time for a little Motown revival at our yearly Casino Night. Everything from poker to bingo was on offer, while a roving magician stunned with minor miracles. Raffle prizes included Summerfuel water bottles, British candy collections, and — the grand prize — two tickets to next Thursday’s London production of 42nd Street!