This morning I drove to Oxford, and parked at a house in the suburbs using www.parkatmyhouse.com. That went well — there was someone there and they even gave me a lift into Oxford. So far, so good. The sun is shining but it is not incredibly hot, and the various accidents on the M25 this morning — three! — did not cause me any delays. I leave at 9:30 and arrive around lunchtime, in fact.
I was dropped off in the High Street. The next step was to locate Queens College. No sign outside, and a locked-looking door up a set of steps! Lucky for me that I had a good idea where it was! The stone buildings are magnificent, but within the arrangements are rather amateurish.
I find that the porter is friendly enough, but for some reason all visitor information has to be given verbally! Where to go, and how to get there, for instance. Also I discover that there is only breakfast on offer — which rather defeats the purpose of my booking a room here.
But off I go to the Queens Annex, room 46, to discover that I have a room which is (a) over the gate (b) on the stair, (c) facing an area of Queens Lane where the local loungers hang around and talk, a few feet from my window and worst of all (d) in direct line of sight, and a few feet, from a bus stop. Oxford is overrun with buses, and every few seconds the roar of a diesel engine interrupts my thought. I did attempt to change rooms, but there was no other to be had. The poor girl who looks after the conference bookings is even worse off than I am, in a room where the windows have to be closed because of the buses, and the heat is intense. At least my room does not get the sun, or so it seems. For it is very hot in Oxford today.
The conference organisation itself is rather shambolic. I get a welcome pack, but later I discover that it is missing both the synoptic timetable and the blue book listing the conference events. I have quite a fight with the woman on the desk to get a copy, too. I wonder what else I am missing. Later I discover that it is also missing the shoulder strap.
I’ve been told that I can set up on tables under the posters in the marquee. But there is no table, and no chair next to it. Fortunately these are easy to obtain, and I set up the inspection copies, and lug the box of 20 copies across there as well. Thank heavens that I did not order 40!
Next step is to decide when I will be there to man the desk. The sessions are mostly in the morning, and the main morning break is 10:20-11:20 (as I discover, with some difficulty). I leave a note there indicating that I will be there at that time. After all, I would like to go to the sessions too!
I go back to the college and ask about internet access. As ever, they give verbal instructions (which don’t work) but they do have cables for sale at £5 each — well done, whoever thought of that! — which can just plug into the wall and work. And this DOES work. As you can tell.
Rather frazzled after that, but relieved to find my room may be noisy, but it is cool. Still not entirely recovered from the illness earlier in the week, so I shall now lie down and attempt to work out what, if anything, I need to do this afternoon.