American in Spain

Oxford and Walsall, August 2001

April 9, 2011
Green Dress

Before my current blog, I hosted static web pages with photos and comments to share my travels with my family and friends. What follows are adventures I had, photos I took, and comments I wrote in August 2001, when I went to visit my girlfriend, Marga, in her new apartment in Walsall, England. Four months later, I would end up moving there and living there for almost four years.

A few thoughts about what you're about to see... Wow, we look young! I still retain a little of this photo-caption-photo-caption style in my present day blogging. At the time, I was really preoccupied with the whole "driving on the left" novelty; the original post had another video that was just us speeding down the motorway with the cars going the other direction on our right. Ten years later, we still have some of these embarrassing. And finally, this is why I blog: so I can look back at photos and thoughts like these. Okay, without further ado...

This past week I went to visit Marga in England. When I arrived, I was given an hour or two to sleep and then Marga and I went down to Oxford to meet up with some of her friends that had driven there earlier. We got there in time to search for the Bed & Breakfast and then go out dancing.


Rocio, Aitziber, Carlos, Maria

Waiting outside the dance club. The guy at the door was keeping count of how many people were inside. Even with this precaution, it was pretty packed, but not uncomfortable. From left to right: a girl's head who Aitziber had asked to take their photo, some English bloke that had helped us find the club and enjoyed practicing his Spanish, Rocio (her name means "dew" in Spanish), Aitziber (Marga's roommate), Carlos, and Maria.

Rocio, Aitziber, Carlos, Maria

We tried again with the blonde out of the way and everyone looking at my camera. The English fellow would rather look at Rocio.

Marag, Maria, Aitziber, Rocio

Dancing and drinking. From left to right: Marga, Maria, Aitziber, and Rocio.

Marga, Maria, Erik, Rocio, Carlos

Marga, Maria, me, Rocio, and Carlos.

Erik and Marga

Me and Marga...okay, so I had had a little to drink...

B&B Room

The next morning in the B&B. Aitziber wanted to try my camera. Marga and I decided to spend Sunday in Oxford because we had arrived so late on Saturday. The others drove over to Cambridge. I knew from past experience that the cities are pretty much the same with Oxford possibly being better. Too bad about the overcast weather.

Some Oxford College Buying Postcards

This might be my favorite picture from the whole week. This is Marga shopping for postcards.

Boat Captain

We rented a rowboat and meandered along the canal. It had been a long time since I had rowed and it took me about 15 minutes to get the hang of it again. This is Marga enjoying the ride in the back of the boat and occasionally shouting "Cuidado!" ("Look out!") when I got to close to a tree. The canal was quite tough to maneuver because of all the trees jutting out from the sides.


Marga charging ahead at ramming speed at some English (and I think Canadian) women.

Very European

What a European!!

Some Oxford Garden

The guard only let one person at a time walk 30 feet forward from here and photograph the inside of this college. I took full advantage (see panorama below).

The Thames The Head of the River

The Head of the River. I guess it's a restaurant and pub but I didn't get to enter. I'd love to, though.

Erik and Marga

Camera at arms length


For the rest of the week, Marga had to work, leaving the house at 5:30 every morning. On various days, I took trips from the house (easily using a nearby bus stop) into "the city" (Birmingham - the second biggest city in England) or into downtown Walsall, the suburb of Birmingham that Marga lives in.

Wallace and Gromit

A hedge shaped like Wallace and Grommit that I saw. I think this is in Solihull, another suburb of Birmingham that I ventured into.

Jesson Close Apartment

The main room of Marga's apartment (the dining room and the living room).

Jesson Close Apartment

A look from the other side of the room.

Jesson Close Apartment View

A look out the living room window at a nearby sports field.

Jesson Close Apartment Window

A look directly our the living room window. The sports field was on the left of what is shown here.

More Mobiling

Marga on the phone in the living room, photo taken from the bedroom window.

Green Dress

Okay, maybe this one is my favorite... (er...I mean..."favourite")

Making Breakfast

Marga preparing breakfast. Looks like a finger got in there...oops.

Eating Breakfast

Marga consuming breakfast at a little table in the corner of the kitchen.

The Punto

Marga leaving for work in her Fiat (the car in the middle). Marga came home and we went out to walk around the Walsall City Centre.

Driving the Punto

Marga is an excellent driver, even on the left side of the road. She let me drive back from Walsall one evening when the traffic was light. Very difficult! In the round-a-bouts, I was simply going where Marga pointed and stopping when she said to. I still don't really understand them, especially the double round-a-bout ("figure 8"?) near her house.

Steering Wheel on Wrong Side

The Fiat interior

What lane are we in?

A photographically clever shot.

The A34

Driving on the wrong side of the road.


Getting into downtown Walsall.

Walsall Town Hall

An attractive building in downtown Walsall

Walsall Bus Stop

We decided this picture would be entitled, "El Autobus y Otras Cosas" ("The Bus and Other Things"). :-)

Marga Jesson Close Apartment

Marga's building from the parking lot as I was leaving.


My new digital camera has a feature that lets you line up multiple shots so they can be easily be merged together into a panorama by the software that came with it. I like what I've seen. You really must click on each image to get the full effect. If you download IE6, it will size the images down to fit inside your window.


A little blurry, but this is one of the colleges at Oxford.


An Oxford street. "High Street", I believe.


The college at Oxford where we had to take turns walking forward to take pictures.


This is Marga's bedroom. Too bad about the lighting...


180 degrees of Marga's kitchen. This one is really like turning your head from side to side as you scroll.