Rowing teams on the River Isis at Oxford, England poise in preparation for a Saturday afternoon race.
They're off! Teams start out swiftly, racing to the finish - despite intermittent rain showers.
Another Oxford competition featured teen rowers. We came across the rowing competition while walking along the river near Christchurch Meadows.
My husband and I spent time in Oxford this month, visiting his lovely daughter Marie-Claire, who works for an international organisation. As always, it was wonderful seeing her and hearing about her exciting life in Oxford. One of the nice dinners we shared with Marie-Claire and the charming young man she's dating was at a tapas restaurant, where the owners and waiters were actually Spanish.
When I told the waiter - who was speaking Spanish at every opportunity - that I was going to Seville to study Spanish, he talked enthusiastically about cities he had visited in Andalucia, including Cordoba and Granada. Then he asked how long I'd be in Seville. When I replied, "Five weeks," he looked at me pityingly, no doubt thinking there's no way I'll learn Spanish in five weeks. So I quickly said, "It's just the first class. Obviously, I'll have to take many more." He smiled and nodded, relieved I wasn't delusional enough to think Spanish could be learned so easily.
In Oxford we stayed at a historic building which has been refurbished into a charming hotel. Unfortunately the light on our balcony constantly flashed off and on our first night, meaning I got very little sleep. The next morning we reported the problem to the concierge, who assured us he'd sort it. Late that night when we returned from dinner, the light was still flashing like a wayward disco strobe. This infuriated me, because the concierge had said he would fix it. So I went downstairs and got the night manager. He came upstairs, went out on the balcony and agreed that the light was "very annoying." "But unfortunately, there's nothing we can do," he added.
At this point, I remembered just how pricey this hotel was, so I responded, "Well you have to do something. This is unacceptable. I'm not spending another night with that light flashing." I meant that he should move us to another room - even though it would have been a hassle to repack everything - or remove the bulb from the flashing light. Apparently he never considered the first option; instead he stood on a balcony chair and started fiddling with the light. He then went downstairs and returned with a screwdriver. I told him he shouldn't use a screwdriver, as he might get shocked. But he ignored me and continued trying to disconnect the light - which was set on a building timer.
One of his colleagues arrived to help. Luckily he was standing behind the manager when he succeeded in shattering the thick bulb casing. The manager shouted and fell backwards, having received a nasty electrical shock. Of course we were very concerned: my husband offered him water and I asked him to sit down. But white-faced and speechless, clearly stunned, he immediately left the room. His colleague apologised profusely that the problem had not been corrected when first reported. He told us not to worry; he would look after his colleague. The balcony light was out, but I woke up several times during the night worrying aout the manager's health.
The next morning when checking out, the reception manager asked if everything was okay. David and I looked at each other and said, "Well, except for the accident..." and we told her the story. She was remarkably unsympathetic to her colleague's plight, correcting us when we referred to the colleague who'd been shocked as the night manager. "He's the night porter," she said dismissively - as though to make herself seem more important. "When I came to work, he told me he'd been shocked."
I thought she didn't realise the significance of what had happened, so I said her colleague could have been seriously injured - or worse. She replied, "It was a problem for the building maintenance and he shouldn't have done anything, but he was trying to help you." This annoyed me, as she seemed to be blaming us for the incident. So I reminded her we'd informed the concierge the previous morning and he'd agreed to take care of the problem, but nothing had been done. After that, she didn't have much to say, busying herself with papers. Next time, we'll stay at The Randolph!