This morning, I was delighted to receive two envelopes that, while lacking a return address, bore the familiar handwriting of Sarah Johnston. As each is marked ‘for your birthday,’ I’ve placed them carefully aside until Monday. Many thanks to her for remembering. Indeed, these last few days have been a wonderful reminder that there are people out there who care about me; I appreciate it a great deal.
I had quite an excellent time this evening and tonight. Emily, Claire, Nora, Alex, and Margaret all came for dinner at the Moonlight Tandoori Restaurant. Unfortunately, something went wrong with the reservation and they could not give us a table. Luckily, the Kasmir Halal restaurant next door proved available and quite good. I haven’t eaten so much since I arrived in Oxford. I had a tasty bowl of Dall Soup – to combat the cold – followed by papadums, vegetable vindaloo, and garlic naan. The vegetable vindaloo was the hottest curry I have ever been served without specifically requesting that the curry be made hotter. It was wonderful. Also good was the chance to introduce Nora to the delights of Indian food: of which she had not previously partaken.
Along with dinner, we shared two bottles of wine that Margaret kindly picked up at Tesco’s. Perhaps the best thing about the night was conversing with friends from disparate parts of Oxford, and appreciating the fact that they enjoy conversing with one another. One of the things I always enjoyed most about throwing the occasional big party with lots of food and friends from all over was giving them the chance to meet one another. When living in a strange place, it is incredibly empowering to feel like part of a community; tonight, I definitely did.
After dinner, Emily and Alex had to scamper off to do work. Shortly after, Margaret left with a similar determination. Claire, Nora, and I, however, discovered a Jamaican bar on the west side of Cowley Road, no more than a block or two north of the restaurant. Before that, we tried going to the Wychwood Brewery, but it was unpleasantly loud and there was nowhere to sit. By contrast, the Jamaican bar offered plenty of places to sit, nice bass-heavy reggae music, and an enjoyable ambiance. We were also introduced to an excellent cocktail. Called a ‘dark and stormy,’ it consists of Appleton Special Jamaican Rum (dark) and Old Jamaican Ginger Beer. Served in a half pint glass, with ice, it tastes like a more interesting, more Caribbean gin and tonic. It met with universal approval.
Very kindly, Nora furnished me with a travel guide book on Tallinn: A Hedonist’s Guide to Tallinn and the Iain Pears novel An Instance of the Fingerpost as birthday gifts. I look forward very much to reading both during the next while, and making use of the first, during the break. Very generously, Nora, Claire, and Margaret also paid for my excellent birthday dinner. Alex gave me a very kind card, and voucher for the purchase of additional reading material. Emily also gave me a card, but I am fairly certain she means for me to open it on my birthday proper. My profound appreciation goes out to everyone who showed up. You really didn’t need to get me anything, but I am exceedingly pleased that you did. One day, I shall mix up a pitcher of dark and stormy and share it with you all – especially those who didn’t get the chance to try it tonight.
- One thing I discovered today: there are more than fifteen geocaches within a kilometre of library court. Perhaps over the break, I shall do a bit of searching.