You'll recall that last week I shared how Gerrie and I had a bit of a reunion in Oxford. I also mentioned our deep appreciation for the writings of C. S. Lewis and our desire to seek out the haunts of Lewis during his tenure at Oxford University. We were especially interested in visiting places where he and his friends gathered.
His friends were called the Inklings, and among the places they gathered was The Eagle and Child.
The Eagle and Child, affectionately known as the "Bird and Baby", is found at 49 St. Giles in Oxford. Their history claims that public house sat on this site since 1650. In addition to sometimes meeting in Lewis's rooms at Magdalen College, Lewis and his friends would meet in the Rabbit Room of the pub on Tuesday mornings during the term. The bar keep informed us that they would usually gather at 11:00 a.m.
The Inklings were an informal group; "neither a club nor a literary society" as Warnie once said, but it did meet to discuss literature. In fact, Inkling member J.R.R. Tolkien first read excerpts of The Lord of the Rings at the gatherings. C.S. Lewis, in turn, shared readings from his Out of the Silent Planet and parts of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Today the room looks much as it did during the 1930s and 1940s. The literary connection and history of the room is noted with photographs of members of the group and sheet of paper with the signatures of Lewis, Tolkien, and others saying that they had drunk to the landlord's health.
During our time there, we enjoyed a meal (I had Fish & Chips no doubt) and spent time looking about the room. Once finished, we took a while to sit quietly and write. We both kept journals and being in this place, with the memories of the men who once met here stirring around us, we could not let an opportunity to write escape us.
There are many things I miss about our life in England. I miss our friends, our work and mission and how simple life seemed to be. I also miss being a place filled where I am surrounded by history. In fact the very road we lived on, the Watling Street (A5), was built by the Romans. Hundreds of years before we lived there, Roman troops would march along the road towards the northwest.
I miss being there.
Next up? I don't know. Perhaps we'll stay in England or cross the Channel and visit Paris. Or maybe we'll go further afield. Africa perhaps?