It generally doesn't require a huge reason for me to cross the pond, being an Anglophile, but this time it was for an event I really hated missing the previous year, Oxonmoot. Oxonmoot is an annual gathering of the Tolkien Society in Oxford to discuss things Tolkien.
It was a great experience and I plan to return. But of course the best part, or one of the best parts at least, is flying. (The better part was the return in F on the 777 LHR LAX
, which will be in a subsequent trip report).
So I worked on a Thursday, and took Friday off, as Oxonmoot began Friday afternoon. After work, I went to DFW
to catch AA78, the 7:20pm flight to LHR
. It was a 763 and J was booked around 20 of 28, so I was a bit overconfident of getting a J seat. It turns out I ended up with the very last seat in J.
Here's my plane at D25. N344AN, which was acquired through a deal with Boeing after the TWA asset purchase. AA
got 8 767s and 2 777s instead of a bunch of 717s. N342AN-N350AN are these 767s and they have upgraded interior, most noticably the 777 overhead bins through the entire cabin.
Some views of DFW
's beautiful and spacious Terminal D.
This was a good sign. All standbys had been accommodated. I went to the agent who gave me seat 2B. A few minutes later, they paged my name, which is never a good thing after getting accommodated in business class. It turns out she wanted to juggle seats to help someone out, so she moved me to 4B. I asked for a window seat, but she didn't have any that were open. She said I had the very last seat and just barely made it to business class. Oh the horror of almost having flown coach! I probably would have asked her to move me to the 9pm departure if I lost business.
I was one of the first to board, being slightly eager to stow my carryon and just excited about the trip. Notice how big the bins are. These are the 777 bins and they are in all 767-300s in the fleet through row 13 (including the forward part of coach). On N342-N350 they are the full length of the plane. And there's no science to figuring out which 763 you'll get because the cabin layout on all of them is the same, so they are interchangeable. Before they upgraded the 763s a year or two ago, the new ones were the only ones with the moving map.
I didn't have any takeoff pics, but here's a sunset shot as we were climbing out heading northeast just past the east side of downtown Dallas on the departure.
A cabin shot. I like the new 767 J class (if it's still new?). It's a little bit tighter in width than the new 757 and the 777 J class, but is definitely adequate for a transatlantic trip. It's a small bother to get the guy in the window seat out to the bathroom, but in my 2 longhauls now on the 767 in J, it works out just fine.
Dinner is Served
keeps making longhaul meal service better. It was really good, even though my pics were bad. My neighbor kept looking at me taking pics of my food, so I was a bit embarassed and did a shoddy job of them.
Appetizer of Salmon and Shrimp. The bread came with olive oil for dipping, which I love.
The same appetizer, but trying to give you a view of the seat layout and where the IFE is compared to the tray, etc.
The Salad, which comes with choices of veggies that they add. There's also a chicken breast they will add to it, but that's just too much with a full entree following it. (notice the bread plate is empty and almost no trace of olive oil..LOL)
The Entree. The color in my pic doesn't do it justice. It's a curried chicken on rice, which was really nice and the first time I've had a curry dish on AA
. Great job AA
And the Sundae accompanied with a glass of Port.
One complaint...they were really stingy about showing the moving map. In F on the 777 they show the moving map the whole flight. On the 763 they tend to show a movie in J even though everyone has IFE. They only showed the map at this point near YUL
and then on descent into LHR
. I love watching the map, so that disappointed me.
I fell asleep before Newfoundland and woke up about an hour earlier than I would have liked, but that's life. I didn't really know where we were when I woke up due to no map.
Inflight service... the flight attendants were superb. There was one who was extra-attentive and very nice. She addressed me by name each time she asked if I needed anything and had that energy about her like she truly enjoyed her job. It's a roll of the dice on what flight attendants might be working a flight, but I have had good luck this year on my AA
A while after dinner she passed around a box of Lindt chocolates. She also passed out bottled water to everyone.
Approaching the coast of Ireland, there was the breakfast service. I didn't take a pic because the cabin was too dark and I didn't want to turn on the light and wake up the person next to me. It was a rather large breakfast, which I remember from my previous transatlantic flight, includes a steak. I really am never in the mood for steak at breakfast, but it's first class service, so I guess some want it.
The breakfast had a cheese omelet with hash brown potatoes, a steak, yogurt, choice of a biscuit or bagel.
And I have no pics of the landing as i was in an aisle seat. We didn't have to hold, which is unusual at LHR
! We landed to the west and I had a great view of central London as we turned out east of the Millenium Dome.
We landed on 27L and taxied quickly to T3
, where we parked at an actual gate without waiting.
Taxiing by the SQ
A380 on the way to the gate.
My plane at the gate.
I went into Passport Control and the IRIS scan lane was working, so it took me like 5 minutes total to get through customs and immigration. I had a slip to use the Fasttrack, but IRIS scan is great!
I felt welcome!
I had to visit Terminal 5 before heading up to Oxford. I needed to be in Oxford only by 5 or 6pm, so I wasn't in any hurry. We landed around 11am.
I love the architecture of Terminal 5.
Both inside and outside!
The views from T5
are great too! There's a nice viewing area on the upper level outside by the passenger drop off area.
One of LHR
's many A380 departures. I also saw the Qantas A380 take off, but didn't get a pic for it. I was walking between locations and didn't have time to take a shot of it.
Now it's time for the ground portion of the trip... including other methods of transportation than air!
It's cheaper and faster to get from LHR
to Oxford by bus, but I prefer the train! I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington and took a train to Oxford.
Here's a shot of Paddington. I also really like the iron architecture of Victorian rail stations.
The Oxford rail station parking lot! Nobody drives cars, they all have bikes in Oxford! I once rented (hired) a bike for several weeks in Oxford and parked it in that mess when I would catch the train.
I was going to Oxonmoot, which is held at different locations every year. This year it was in the college Lady Margaret Hall, on the north side of the city centre. On the way there, I made a small detour that I had been wanting to make for about a year! Beaumont Street, which wasn't really much of a detour.
You are probably wondering why Beaumont Street?
Here's a view of the street from the west side.
It actually has some big landmarks on it.
Such as the very nice Randolf Hotel.
And the Ashmolean Museum
But that's not why I wanted to go to Beaumont Street. I was looking for a sign. Literally. Or a plaque. And I had to walk the length of the street three times before I found it!
I came to Beaumont Street to find where Beaumont Palace was! There it is!! I was so excited.
I am a big fan of medieval European history and also my family is descended partially from the Beaumonts for whom the palace was named. That also ties me in with the Plantagenets too, such as Henry and John Plantagenet here. King John on this marker was the guy who penned the Magna Carta in 1215. Richard was known as Richard Coeur de Leon (Richard the Lionheart) and was a huge military leader. He was commanding an army at age 16! His son Richard II
led the Third Crusade. These were significant folks who were born in England where I was standing. John was in England most of the time, but Richard spent most of his time in France. Both spoke mainly French rather than English. At this time the Court spoke French. It was, after all, only 100 years after the French conquered England in 1066.
, history lesson is over. Sorry about that, I couldn't help it.
So here's where I stayed and where the Tolkien Society held Oxonmoot. It was an absolutely gorgeous campus as you'll see from the following pictures.
It had a beautiful garden area. Here are pictures of the grounds.
now here are two tributes to J.R.R. Tolkien
His and his wife's grave.
One of, if not his favorite pubs. Tolkien "groupies" that I met all call this the "Bird and Baby" rather than Eagle and Child. It's the most famous venue for the "Inklings" which is possibly an English literary movment, but was for sure a gathering of significant writers in Oxford that met at Magdalene College and also at pubs including the Eagle and Child, the Lamb and Flag, the Kings Arms, the White Horse (I think that's the name, next to Blackwell's).
Thanks for enduring my trip report. Look for one to follow concerning the ride home. LHR
(and no history lesson in that one).