As soon as we had officially decided to work a day trip to Oxford into our itinerary, I knew I absolutely could not visit Oxford without seeing The Kilns, the home of C.S. Lewis and his brother Warren. I scouted for information online and arranged a tour time via email, with accompanying squeals of delighted anticipation. I have dreamed of visiting The Kilns for well over a decade, ever since I first started reading C.S. Lewis and because of the profound impact his writing has had on my life. I got chills just thinking about standing in his house, where he penned so many books I have fallen in love with. The anticipation was almost too much to handle! (As a side note, my lifelong dream is still to qualify for the incredible Scholars-in-Residence program at The Kilns, someday when I’m a full-time writer. #lifegoals)
We found conflicting information regarding the travel time from London to Oxford, and I will freely admit that if we had followed the advice of my conservative, planning-ahead sister and husband, the day might have turned out differently. As it was, we left our apartment far later than we should have, and as we attempted to sort out a jumble of train departure times, I soon realized with dismay that we wouldn’t make it to Oxford in time for our scheduled tour of The Kilns. We had to make several transfers on the Tube before reaching a station where we could switch to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and make our way to Oxford, and all of that maneuvering and transferring took much longer than I had anticipated.
We eventually got so distracted trying to determine our route that we pulled a “get off at the next station until we figure this out” move and didn’t even realize that we were coming up at Westminster Station. Then in one jaw-dropping moment, we came up the stairs and found ourselves face to face with Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I was so distraught that Megan actually had to grab me and say, “LOOK UP!!” What a glorious moment when I did.
By this point, I turned on my cellular data and called my contact at The Kilns, basically begging her to give us another tour time that day. She was sweet and delightfully candid (at the beginning of the conversation, as she tried to gather the tour schedule information, she told me, “Well, I would ask my husband about this, but I do believe he just got into the shower!”), but the only other available time was smack in the middle of the walking tour of Oxford that we had already booked and pre-paid. Feeling desperate, we hailed a taxi and asked him how quickly he could drive us straight through to Oxford (I’m sure he had a profound stupid Americans! moment), but when he told us he couldn’t get us there in time either, we had him take us instead to Paddington Station where we could catch the next train to Oxford.
Catching a cab was also on our to-do list for London, but as the reality settled in that we were about to miss one of my most-anticipated events, I felt too sick and disappointed to properly enjoy it. Yes, I can admit that I shed hot and bitter tears in a London cab.
Thankfully, our travel to Oxford after we reached Paddington Station went off without a hitch, and we had a dreamy day and glorious weather, so I cannot complain (and more details on Oxford will come in the next post). It will remain my one big regret from our whole trip, but you can bet that a tour of The Kilns is now at the top of my priority list for a return trip!
Please tell me I’m not the only one who has botched a tour reservation due to underestimating travel time! Come tell your tale of woe in the comments.