Would you like to come on an adventure? It’s somewhere you’ve been before, somewhere I know really well, somewhere where we can make friends, and take lots and lots of pictures, and we’ll probably find a cafe and have some cake too.
Apparently last October’s Oxford Instameet left a favourable impression on Miss Elma, because when last week’s Blogtacular chat reminded me that the next one was on Saturday she jumped at the chance. Literally.
We left Kitty and H behind for a little biggest girl one on one time, and so that she could go to a school friend’s birthday party, but Elma (armed with my old phone), Pip (armed with the promise of cake and spending the day with Mama) and I (loaded like a pack pony) set off for Oxford in search of the Museum of Art cafe (great cake, lousy phone signal, good wifi) and some instagrammers. When we came in the autumn it was a step into the unknown; I didn’t know whether the children would enjoy it, or whether I’d actually get to take some photos, or whether everyone else in the group would be ok with the children being there, but I did know the safety net pretty well; I was never going to get lost in Oxford, or run out of alternative plans to keep the kids happy. This time though I went knowing that we were in for a treat, and so looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.
And the children were pretty excited too. Pip’s enthusiasm may admittedly have been more for my peppermint slice and less for all these smiley people, and I think a few people got the stink eye before he decided that actually they could be friends, but Elma had a camera, and the chance to “do blogging like Mummy” was not one which she was going to pass up on. By the time Pip had made a bid for the second half of my cake she’d taken photos of her feet, the cakes, a few blurry selfies with bemused expressions, and her brother, only some of which also contained large portions of her fingers. All she needed at that point was some pretty flowers on a white background with some of those curvy black scissors and she would have nailed Instagram inside half an hour.
And that was just the cafe. Our route this time took us through Christchurch Meadows, past the enormous queue of Harry Potter fans, and up onto Merton Street. Its cobbles were the link between H’s rooms and mine, and because it’s Oxford, and the only thing that’s changed on the entire street in the last fifteen years is a door. It’s alive with memories, both the repeatable sort and the probably-better-not-my-Dad-reads-this. I remember being met from my final finals outside the back of the exam schools with balloons and confetti and fizz, and meeting H from his armed with something similar; of late nights and the early hours of the morning and trying to walk on cobbles in a ball dress and heels.
So many memories from then and now some new ones too; Elma standing in front of H’s old building, posing on the steps; jumping like a bouncing bean in front of pink walls and grey doors, and developing a wonderful obsession with photographing each and every puddle of glittery confetti that we passed along the way.
We wiggled our way through the back streets until we got to Holywell Street and it’s there that I think Elma really started to get the idea of an Instameet. By that stage she’d mastered holding the phone to take a picture that didn’t include her fingers and she was in raptures over all the pretty coloured houses. She took a whole series of photos of red doors, and then some pink and purple walls, but it was when she took a picture of a pretty letterbox, and then was gutted that she’d missed the chance to take a shot of one of her new friends jumping, that I knew my job was done.
Elma loves photowalks.
All this while Pip had been tucked up on my back. He loves being in the sling, and cuddling up to me, so he was in his happy place, and spent much of the time snoozing back there, gently rocked as we walked along.
He stayed asleep all through the jumping photos and as we nipped into Exeter for the very best view of the Rad Cam, and if anyone took a group shot as we stood on the walls, he’s fast asleep. Even Elma was getting a little bit tired by that point but then she saw a bride and groom having their photos taken down in the square below and the very last two percent of her battery went on taking their photo.
And then it was time for us to head home, to tear ourselves away from the pretty views and the awesome company, and to absolutely definitely put 1st October in the diary for the next one!