Day Nine began wonderfully and ended, well, not so wonderfully. I had another lovely breakfast of smoked salmon and conversation with the Australians, then finished packing so I could be checked out and ready when my taxi arrived at 10:30. While waiting, I had a lovely visit with Jackie and Steve, the fabulous proprietors of the B&B, who made sure I had an amazing stay. Indeed, my only complaint is that I hadn’t booked a longer stay, but I’m hoping to visit again someday. After goodbye hugs, it was off to Windermere station where I caught the 10:55, saying farewell to the gorgeous green hills and sheep sprinkles as the train made its way south.
A fifteen minute delay in Preston and a few other late departures along the way cut my half hour connection time at Manchester Piccadilly down to less than ten minutes and after running through the station and along the moving walkways, I made it with just a couple minutes to spare. The train was already rather full – not surprising for a Friday afternoon and the reason I made sure to make a reservation – but I was able to store PJ in an upper luggage rack and grab my seat for the journey to Oxford, on the verge of crawling out of my skin by the time I finally alighted there. I caught a cab to Keble College – the same place I stayed last time in a lovely room – and checked in, assigned to a room in one of the newer buildings. After wandering out to get dinner, I stopped into the Porter’s Lodge to check if there were any rooms available in the older wings where I stayed last time. As the college is full with all rooms other than those reserved for conferences currently occupied, I was relieved to get the only other one available, but after lugging PJ up to the fourth (US)/third (UK) floor and surveying my digs for the next four nights, I decided it just wasn’t going to work. So, I checked TripAdvisor and hopped on the phone, booking a room in a hotel for the next three nights (I probably could’ve booked it for tonight as well, but after requesting to change rooms, I didn’t want to go downstairs yet again). So, in the morning, I’ll check out and move my stuff to St. Michael’s Street. I’d still absolutely recommend Keble to people looking for good, affordable accommodation, but as with many things, there are hits and misses, and this trip, it was mostly a miss. But tomorrow should be a brighter day.