The Real Jurassic Park: Geological Explorations in Southwest England
University of Washington, Tacoma
TESC 417: Summer 2006
The Real Jurassic Park: Geology field course along the south coast of England (TESC 417)
August 6, 2006--We left Woodberry Down and Lyme Regis on August 6 and looked forward with much anticipation to our new lodgings at the Oxford Youth Hostel. We had a four-hour
drive ahead of us which gave us some leisure time--some used the time to read, some talked and there was always someone who needed a few more hours
sleep. Half way to Oxford we were treated to a fantastic lunch at a traditional English pub, the Riverside, located at the Cheddar Gorge.
After lunch we had a chance to walk around the quaint village and taste some of the cheese for which this town is famous--this is the where the original cheddar cheese
was made. Stopping at Cheddar was a great side-trip and we were all in high spirits!
We piled back into the van and headed east towards our new destination--Oxford. We were looking forward to visiting Oxford University and spending
time in a college town. We were also looking forward to our new lodgings!
The town of Oxford lies in the county of Oxfordshire, England and has a population of 134,248. It is known for the University of Oxford, the oldest
university in the English-speaking world. It is also known as the "city of dreaming spires"--in reference to the harmonious architecture of the university buildings.
The River Thames runs through Oxford and some of the students had a chance to take a boat ride on the river.
UWT class tours St. Peter's College at Oxford
Oxford was one of the most enjoyable towns we stayed at. Because it was a college town, it had lots to do, great restaurant choices and fun tourist attractions
to take advantage of. We had planned excursions as a class but also had time to go off in different directions and explore on our own--we visited Oxford
University, went boating on the River Thames, toured Oxford Castle, enjoyed awesome Indian food, studied fossils at Oxford's Natural History Museum, walked the
streets of Oxford and enjoyed the wonderful, old buildings made of beautiful stone. By this time, we were able to appreciate and identify some of the
One of the first things we did in Oxford was to visit Oxford University, our professor Sian's alma mater. We were very fortunate that she let us tag along with her as
we were given special privileges to enter into the inner buildings of the campus. Sian gave us a wonderful tour and personal history. Oxford is made up of thirty-nine
colleges and students have to apply to the particular college they want to attend. Sian attended St. Peters College at Oxford which became a college in the mid 20th century.
We found it to be beautifully landscaped, quiet and serene--and very conducive to studying.
UWT Class at Oxford
We visited Oxford University Museum of Natural History as a class and enjoyed not only the exhibits but also the wonderful neo-Gothic building. It has a very large
square court with a glass roof and is supported by cast iron pillars. The stone columns are made from different British stone which was selected by geologist John Phillips.
There are statues of famous men of science that stand around the gound floor of the court. You'll see Aristotle, Bacon, Darwin and Linnaeus--and it's a great photo
opportunity. The musuem has an interesting history--in 1860 there was a significant debate on the history of evolutionary biology and Darwinism which was debated
by Thomas Huxley. The museum has a 45 foot Tyrannosurus rex skeleton and houses over 5 million mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, fossils, rocks and minerals from
around the world--it would be easy to wander through the halls for days.
Class instruction on grounds of the Oxford Natural History Museum
Our class had spent two and a half weeks together--through thick and thin (mostly thick). We had eaten Spagetti O's and fried bread together, had slept in bunks not much
bigger than cribs, and had spent endless hours exploring, learning, growing, sharing and talking. We helped each other, listened when someone wanted to talk, and
shared our Payday candy bars (inside joke). It was an incredible group of people and the best of teachers. Our last evening together was the best. We gathered in the evening
in the backyard of the hostel for a performance by one of our own--Daniel Podrasky, Opera Singer Extraordinaire. His singing was awesome and we had so much fun
together. It was a perfect way to end an incredible trip. Thanks so much Daniel and thank you for the CDs. Jeanine gave gifts to our teachers--maps that were signed
by the class. We laughed and cried and prepared for the next day when we would all head off in different directions.
Daniel's wonderful opera performance!
We are all very thankful to our truly awesome professors, Sian Davies-Vollum and Cheryl Greengrove for giving us
an experience of a life time. They planned the trip perfectly, hung in there with us when we were grumpy and tired, and gave us the best instruction and
experiences anyone could ask for. From all of us--a heartfelt THANK YOU!
Maps for a job well done!
P.S. A thank you also to Stella (aka Stella-Bella) and her dad and for hanging out with us, and to Dennis for the time you spent with us--you made the trip that much more fun!
Stella and Cheryl enjoy our last day.
All tuckered out from a trip well done!
Links to Related Projects:
Holy Architecture!: Cathedrals, Abbeys, and Parish Churches of Southwest England. By Lisa Green
Geology, Landscapes, and Land Use of Dorset and East Devon. By Angus Leger
Thank you to Cheryl Greengrove and Sian Davies-Vollum for being the best teachers ever.
Thanks to the Oxford Youth Hostel for a wonderful stay.