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A new chapter: hFord in oxFord

Published on
19 Oct 2012
Written by
Heather Ford

After four months of travel to visit friends in amazing places and visiting some wild places on my own, I have at last settled down in Oxford for my next adventure: three or four years doing my DPhil here at Oxford University. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe it!

This was my itinerary from June to October:

San Francisco – Johannesburg (with family) – Cape Town (with Liv) – Johannesburg – Rome (with Steph)- Falerone (with Steph and James and Jon) – Naples – Ravello – Vescovado di Murlo (with Sarah and Eric and Ellie and Helena) – Rome – Washington D.C. (for Wikimania) – Rome – Tel Aviv (with Elad) – Jerusalem – Tiberias – Ashdod – Tel Aviv – Berlin (with Vicky and Alex) – Münster (with Judy and Meinfred) – Baden-Baden – Berlin – Linz (for WikiSym) – Johannesburg – Exeter (with mom) – Padstow – Penzance – Torquay – Oxford – Painswick – Oxford (me, just me)

So many adventures were had. It wasn’t easy (it’s no surprise that the word ‘travel’ comes from the word ‘travail’, to toil, or labor) but I was surprised at how I felt like I could do this forever – wander from one place to the next, visiting friends and peeking in on their lives. Because of the visa insanity and the fact that I need a lobotomy, I didn’t have a camera (not even my iPhone!) for most of the trip. I really wanted to capture everything and so I drew a lot. This, below, was one of my favorite moments:


I was sitting on a stone staircase in Jerusalem’s Mamilla Ave overlooking the street below. It was about 10pm but the street was really busy, with families and groups of young people hanging out and celebrating the summer night. I got out my new notebook and pencil when I saw this Hasidic artist guy drawing cartoons of three beautiful young European women. I was sitting behind him drawing him drawing them and I kept thinking what a wonderful moment it was for those girls – how they would think back to the time they got a street artist to capture them on a hot summer night in Jerusalem.


I also drew a lot of pictures of my feet because people seem to move about too much!

I learned a lot about myself on the trip (as one does). I learned that I want to live in a place without electric fences and barbed wire, in a small(ish) town where people know and look out for each other, and where a short drive gets me out into the countryside where I can walk in the mud and swim in the river and climb to the top of a mountain and look down. I have a picture of it in my head. Oxford will do very well for now, I think. I have found three amazing people who I hope will become my friends, I’ve joined the Mountain Club, started learning Arabic, I go running through the park in the mornings and have blocked off time to write and read everyday. If I can keep this up, it’s going to be an incredible year.