When I first visited Oxford during the
summer of 1994, The Randolph Hotel was high on my list of places to visit. It was used in the movie 'Shadowlands' as the place C.S. Lewis first met Joy Davidman, when she walked in and said in a loud, brash voice, "Is there a Mr. Lewis here?" They actually met at the Eastgate Hotel, but The Randolph is where I wanted to have afternoon tea and experience the backdrop of that scene for myself.
So over 20 years ago, my sister, two nieces, and I walked into the drawing room, where afternoon tea is served, and I immediately felt like Joy and C.S.'s love story was alive. We settled into the big chairs and ordered an enormous afternoon tea, complete with the three-tiered cake stand and copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. I even kept my menu, stealthily tucking it into my bag (sorry Mr. Randolph) and still have it today as a keepsake.
My next visit to The Randolph's drawing room was when I took my mom, aunt, and daughter there on a Sunday afternoon in 1996. We were seated at a table by the window, overlooking the Ashmolean Museum, and ordered their 'Celebration' afternoon tea. This time it was served on a huge, free-standing, tiered cake stand, that stood on the floor next to the table.
My crazy red-haired auntie and my mom were always a bit loopy when they were together, but having a special afternoon tea had them flying an extra three feet off the ground. It was made worse by the quiet hush to the room. The only sounds were low conversations and the delicate tinkling of teacups--all very elegant and subdued.
|My wonderfully fun auntie.|
|A special afternoon tea last August, when one |
of my Bestie BFFs came from Sweden to visit .
|From our 3-hour tea in March.|
So that's why my heart lurched and I felt like crying yesterday afternoon, seeing the pictures of Oxford's beloved Randolph on fire. It's part of Oxford's landscape, and part of my own personal landscape, and I can't imagine it not being there. But I know it will come back better than ever. Stuart and I can't wait for the next time we ease into the big, soft chairs, I sip my champagne, we fight over who gets the last little sandwich, we pile the clotted cream onto our scones, and drink Earl Grey to our heart's content. We pray for a fast recovery and give thanks for all the happy memories made there. Get well soon Randolph Hotel.