Posts filed under oxford

A Quick Getaway to... 2011

I started my blog in 2010 when I was working in Dallas, and my friends pulled me into this weird/new/online world of blogging- but it wasn't until we moved to Oxford that my blog shifted into the style and feel of what it is today.

When we lived there, I would write (with fresher eyes than I have today) about all the cute and quirky things that we were experiencing together. We lived on a shoestring budget, so everything from booking the cheapest tickets RyanAir could offer (even if we didn't know where that destination was without googling it!) to shopping in "old" produce sections of the market stalls for dinner was a daily adventure.

And while I think that was what gave me something to talk about it- the real fun of our first years here was because of Oxford. While life would seem very normal at times, we would also find ourselves in some of the most gorgeous places with such extra people. The dinners on long wooden benches with the paintings of prime ministers and authors hanging over head, the end of term balls held in quadrangles with Alice in Wonderland-esque fantasy all around us (hookah tents! hot air balloons! servers spray-painted from head to toe in golden glitter passing around trays of drinks & food!)

When our time there ended, our amazing group of friends dispersed to the far corners of the world to do really amazing and great things. We are so proud of them, but oof! We miss those moments when we all were carelessly running around Oxford as kings.

Tyler's class just had his 5 year reunion (you may have seen in on Instagram), and I had been so busy that I hadn't put much thought into what the weekend was going to be like before we went. But when we got there and walked into the quadrangle of Christ Church, time seemed to flip back seamlessly into life back when we lived there. We saw so many of those faces- I can't tell you how much of a homecoming it felt like for all of us!

There really is a special magic to old friendships- friendships that love and get you, regardless of how big or small life may have made you. You just can't make old friends. (And you sure can't beat a place like the old dining halls of Oxford to catch up with them!)

Find more of our Oxford days here and my city guide to Oxford here.

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

An English/British/Aussie/South African Accent

Our first year in Oxford, Tyler and I loved the accents all around us. When we would have interactions with people- from the grocery clerk, a nurse or one of his Oxford classmates- we often would repeat phrases back to each other later. It was so fun to hear the new accent of those around us. 

After a few months, it got to this weird confusing point where you are familiar with the words and your start to want to speak in an accent back. But you don't because you actually sound like a wacko. A few of the expats I've asked about this laugh and can recount hilarious stories of when their pseudo English accents slipped out mid-converstation. It's a  awkward moment when you go to buy something at the GAP and when the clerk speaks to you, you blurt out a response that would make Elize Doolittle sound profound before you can think twice. The shock on both parties faces is one that doesn't leave your mind for a long time.

But now... well, now, we don't hear accents. I know that sounds crazy- but when I meet someone, I have a hard time telling where they are from by how they speak. It's more what they speak about- rather than how they say it- that tells me if they live in England. Maybe it's because there are so many expats in our lives that we get immune to the difference or perhaps its because those once once peculiar words and phrases now seem everyday... but either way, now everyone- Irish, English, South African, or whatever- just kind of sounds the same.

When people ask me what Viola's accent is like, I'm honestly not sure how to answer. She just sounds like a little girl to me. Mainly American, I think... but with some British seasoned in it.

Anyway... just something that I noticed today when we were with some Oxford friends that we hadn't seen in a while. They are from New Zealand and I was thinking about when we first met. I think I understood about 1 out of every 6 sentences they said. Weird, right? Has anyone else ever melted into a place where things that once sound strange suddenly sound.... normal?



*image by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 8, 2015 and filed under life, expat, oxford.

Feels Like The First Time.


Of all the towns in England, Oxford has my heart. It's the first "home" that we had when we moved overseas and it stole our hearts in a big way. Maybe it was the gorgeous dreaming spires or maybe it was the enchanting balls we attended as students, but either way- we fell hard for the tiny town that blooms such great minds.

Every time we take student groups there, I have to try hard to be cool. The truth is: I'm bouncing with excitement to show them such a special place. Oxford! It's one a kind. It's the stomping grounds of so many great minds, and I've yet to meet someone who lived there who hasn't been as enchanted by this small town like we were.

I have so many memories of it throughout the year: in the sunshine of the summer, in the snow at Christmas, in the dark nights of fall where the crunchy leaves kept you company on the way home. But the most memories I have from Oxford? Are lonely rainy days when I would wander the town by myself looking for adventures and cheap thrills. (Literally, we were so broke as students.) So when we returned this fall and the day turned soggy on us, it was a little disappointing... and a little welcoming.  Felt like being back, as residents of that magical little world.

Here's a little peek behind the scenes of what my daily life looks like on the job. (Thanks to my good friend, Noah, for snapping up some cute pictures of us during the day.)


Is there a time of your life that you wish you could magically go back to? A place that existed for a season, but just isn't what it was now. For us, it would be Oxford complete with all the friends that made it that time so sweet. While it's always fun to visit, we know it wouldn't be the same to live there again... because it's actually the people that were there that made it the time it was. But, sigh, we'll hold those days close to our heart.



Visiting Oxford? Check out my Oxford page for all of our favorite places to be and eat. You won't be disappointed!



*images by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy


Day Trip to Oxford

The other week,

we got to run up to Oxford

to celebrate our friend Ali's __th birthday.

We arrived in Oxford in a quick spell of really pretty weather.

Instead of heading straight indoors (as we had planned),

we spent a little bit of time

wandering through our old steps,

checking in & saying hello to the places that were once our home.

While Oxford has always been a special place for people to come together,

our time there was no different.

We had so many great friends there...

and we miss them terribly!

As we walked through town,

 I found myself constantly searching to find familiar faces in cafes

& on the streets...

but alas, their absence reminded me how scattered our friends now are.

While the absence of our friends makes our returns to Oxford a bit unsatisfying,

it always reminds us that their time at Oxford did exactly what they had hoped:

launched them into doing really great things on a worldwide scale.

Even though our Oxford exploring was a bit lonely,

once we arrived to Ali's party... 

we were quickly revived by seeing college friends

& celebrating a special friend at a special time in her life.

The party was so much fun!

We got to spend the night at her house in the country afterwards

and spent the next morning sipping coffee with her & her parents

and chatting about everything from cruises to British schools.

As we sat in her living room with rain drizzling down the window,

it felt extremely cozy to be in that moment.

As expats who are often displaced in random hotel rooms & neighborhoods

and find themselves missing our loved ones, 

it feels really nice when we find ourselves in real homes among families & friends.

Thanks, Ali, for sharing your home with us! 

If you are heading out to Oxford on your own,

here are some of our favorite places to check out.

Old Tom's - Across the street from Christ Church's main entrance on St. Aldates, there is a little pub called "Old Tom." Even though it's a pub, it actually makes the most delicious thai food. Go and get the Pad Kee Mao or the red curry. You'll love it. There's a little garden in the back when the weather is nice. Don't miss it.

Moo Moo's Milkshakes- Inside the covered market (off High Street & Cornmarket). I can't really describe how much I love these... but if you taste one, you'll know why. Try one of coffee + oreo, I dare you. If that doesn't suit- create your own shake out of their 300+ mix-in options.

The Grand Cafe - Go here for tea. It's the oldest coffee shop in England, but the cream team is really fantastic. The setting is very photogenic, too. On the High Street- located about halfway between Cornmarket & Madgalen college

The Eagle & Child- CS Lewis, Tolkien & all the other "inklings" used to meet in this famous pub. It may seem a bit touristy, but actually- it's decent food and a fun stop. If you can snag a room in the "Rabbit Room" near the bar, you'll be in the inklings favorite spot.

Christ Church Meadow- Walk through the garden that inspired Carroll's Alice & Wonderland. This walk will give you a good glimpse of the non-curricular daily life of students in Oxford.

Gloucester Green- If you are in Oxford on a Tuesday, go to the organic market in Gloucester Green to try scrummy treats from local farmers & vendors. Anything from goat's milk cheesecake to homemade donuts awaits you. Also, a portion of the market is old antiques & a small flea market. You'll never know what you will find!

One Year Ago...

...we moved from Dallas to Oxford.

It's been such an amazing 12 months...

We have done so much...

and at times, so little.

We'll always remember that Oxford taught us to...

properly wear "black tie",

shamelessly travel the world, 

and make life-long friends.

We'll never forget this time.

Thanks for being a part of our journey through school...

let's see what new things London can teach us.

What's changed in your life over the past year?

Posted on August 26, 2011 and filed under england, oxford.


Sometimes it's okay to take a break from your work to meet a friend for lunch.

Sometimes, those lunches can turn into an afternoon of walking through town, shopping, lounging in sunny lawns, and chatting about anything & everything.

And sometimes when you spend so much time talking & walking, you work up an appetite and need to find dinner...

In times like this, you will sometimes go back to the same restaurant you ate at two nights before...because it's just that good.

And sometimes, you feel crazy and order feta-filled pastries for dinner and your friends will sometimes order champagne.

Spinach, squash, feta, and pine nut pithivier with creamed cauliflower. Get. In. My. Belly.

But make no mistake-it is ALWAYS good to order dessert.

If you're in Oxford, take the 10 minute walk to The Rickety Press. Nestled in Jericho, this gastropub is freshly redone, has an amazing friendly staff, and is the perfect place to go with a friend.

Try the Pithivier. I'd never heard of one before, but now I never want to live without it.

What's a way your day can (sometimes) take a turn for the better?

*all images are original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on July 15, 2011 and filed under "oxford", "top table", "travel tips", oxford.

Monday Moods: I feel... balls-y.

Here in Oxford, we enjoy a lot of balls.

(if you're saying to yourself: "that's what she said..."then we should probably be friends on twitter.)

On Friday, we attended the St. John's Ball to celebrate the end of Trinity term, the final term of England's academic year. The 2011 theme was"This Side of Paradise," and the whole evening left you feeling like you had stepped into a dream.

It was all so very Alice. Finding myself in an English garden between hookah tents & string quartets, as hot air balloons lift around us into the pink and purple sunset was, obviously, surreal.

Would you like to see our night in Wonderland? Jump down the hole (or scroll down the page) to follow the adventure.

A boy.

His girl.

The gates open.

Exotic plumes on tables.

Exotic plumes on hats.

Exotic plumes everywhere.

Bangers to nosh.

Drinks to sip.

Boys in skirts.

Girls with fancy beaded shirts.

Balloons lifting into the air.

Hookah puffs for those who dare.

Ancient walls to guard the night.

This fancy place was quite the site.

Sigh. It truly was the perfect night.

*image 10 & 11 by Stephanie Poage

** all other images are original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on July 4, 2011 and filed under oxford, england.

If you're looking for a good time...

... come to Oxford.

We can go punting,

which is, basically, Oxford's take on the gondola.

Long flat boats are pushed (or "punted") along the shallow river bed

with giant poles that push you along the muddy banks below.

Except forget about the opera-singing gondolier to chauffeur you.

You move the boat yourself...  

and it's really hard!

But don't worry,

it's also loads of fun.

You can pack a picnic...

... see a really pretty side of Oxford...

... get your friend to punt you along...

... and then stop in for tea when you're finished.

It's good, cheap fun, 

I tell ya.

You're gonna love it.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

Posted on June 28, 2011 and filed under england, oxford.

Burberry... Sweet & Tart

The other night, you may have seen my tweets as I listened to Burberry's Creative Director, Christopher Bailey, speak at the Oxford Union.


I can not tell you how much I enjoyed the evening. My heart was beating with excitement the entire time. This man had the vision to turn around the fading brand, gave it new life, and is still dreaming of ways to grow Burberry.

Christopher was smart, humble, and made it a point to encourage everyone in the room. As I sat there in the old library of the union where he chatted casually with the small group of students, I was in awe.

These amazing moments are happening all the time in Oxford. Every stereotype I could have imagined is real… including the one where he invited us to hang out with him in the Union Pub before he flew out to Milan late that evening.

Not a great picture, but I couldn't be prouder! Holy cow... I love it here!

Posted on March 11, 2011 and filed under oxford.

To Rabbie Burns!

If you had driven through to the Oxfordshire countryside this evening, you might have passed a cozy house with a table full of happy people in the window. Those people might have been having a Robert Burns dinner  of haggis, neeps, & tatties. { "neeps" = turnips / "tatties" = potatoes}

And they would have been having a grand time.

My friend, Ali, put on amazing evening....complete with a Scottish brogue to welcome the haggis. and the single malt whiskey at the end of dinner. Haggis as it turns kind of tasty. Next time though, I'll be opting for the veggie version made of lentils!

Robert Burns is a famous Scot poet who you might know as the author of your favorite song of each new year, “Auld Lang Syne.”

I love this version of the song that I first saw on Sex & The City....

Cheers to Rabbie Burns! {as the Scots will call him...}

Posted on January 26, 2011 and filed under "England", "delicious dish", "foreign", "hostess", "oxford", "parties", oxford.

Snow Way!

Have you been hearing me yack all over twitter  about our travel woes from the snow storm this week? In case you think I'm just crazy {which I could be...},here are some pics from our week.


The morning it all started...

later that night...

My sister arrived... and the scene was oh-so-Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. Right?


Sitting around London waiting for flights out...

and doing our best to pass the time with places like:

Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, & Knightsbridge...

... and, the amazing Christmas festival 


I talked about on Monday.

We stayed on Jermyn Street across from 

Fortnum & Mason.

Not only is the inside of their store perfect-

but the window displays were, too.

When we couldn't take the cold any longer-

we would retreat...

to eat.


is a killer restaurant



took me to earlier in the week.

Too much, too soon?


{If you go, may I recommend the chocolate salted-caramel tart?... or the donuts?}

So I guess you needn't feel too sorry for us

considering the location, fine fare, and covered expenses...

In fact... I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

But I will tell you this:

I'm waking up in 5 hours 

to catch a flight home.

Because there really is no place like home for the holidays!

Posted on December 23, 2010 and filed under "England", "TK", "holiday", "oxford", "winter", oxford.

Diwali- Do the Wali.

Have you ever gone to a Diwali party? Because earlier today, I would have had to say no. However, after the past 5 hours- I can confidently say: I'm a professional Diwali-er.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. While I am not Hindu {and am Christian} I loved getting to celebrate the "New Year" with our friends.

We were dressed by our friends from Mumbai {Rishi & Ams} in the prettiest Indian clothes.

In fact, so pretty- Tyler was selected for the Best Dressed Award.

The food was fabulous. The dancing was hilarious {on account of my ridiculous un-coolness}...

... and the company was superb.

So hey, Diwali- next time you come around, I'll be there, too.

Have you ever Diwali-ed? :) If not, make an Indian friend, and get invited for next year. It's so much fun!

Posted on November 7, 2010 and filed under "TK", "events", "holiday", "oxford", holiday, oxford.

A Day On The Town

Today was a busy-but-fun day for me... I'm taking you with me on my Thursday- I hope you're up for it!

Thursday mornings are market days in Oxford. I hustled out to meet some friends there- and woah, it was heaven. It had everything from doughnuts to decanters....and smoked bacon to silver serving spoons.

From one of the antique stalls, I bought this marble, table-lighter. {I'm not a smoker, but what the heck. It's cool.}

Then I headed down to London to take my maiden voyage through the Victoria & Albert Museum.

There is a gorgeous exhibit on the Ballet Russe currently being held that focuses on composer, Daihgilev & the golden age of Russian Ballet.

We walked and gawked at the amazing pieces for two hours, until at last we headed to the courtyard in search of some coffee and sunshine.

Eventually, the sun sat down over the "Smoke..." and left us with this backdrop in the courtyard.

As my friend Helena has mentioned- the gift store at the V&A is fabulous! I definitely didn't leave empty-handed.

Posted on November 4, 2010 and filed under "England", "London", "architecture", "art", "oxford", oxford.

Busting my... Buble.

So as I might have mentioned earlier {like 6 hours ago-ish} we were going to see Michael Buble tonight.

Yes, "were going to see..."

Until the tube strike blew all the routes we could take, and forced us to: Plan B.

Plan B ended up being some mini bottles of wine, and sitting by the river for a few hours together...

Not such an unfortunate turn of events!

Then we headed on to dinner where our drinks were comp'd by the manager and had dessert & coffee sent our way by our "new friends" from the next table.

So yeah, basically the perfect alternative to an evening with Mr. Buble. We'll be catching ya next time, MB....

Posted on October 3, 2010 and filed under "England", "London", "TK", "events", "michael buble", "oxford", oxford.