In my first trip outside Oxford since I arrived here eight weeks ago, I went into London on Thursday with my sister Jenny.
We walked up to St Clements and caught the Oxford Tube to London. This costs £16 return, takes an hour and 40 minutes, and runs every 20 minutes during the day (every 30 minutes early and late, and once an hour between 3am and 6am). It's very comfortable, and there's even free onboard wireless (though that was a bit flakey when I tried to use my iTouch).
Getting off at Marble Arch, I bought myself an Oyster card and we caught the underground to Tottenham Court then walked from there to the British Museum. Here we started with the most prominent gallery, the downstairs room which holds the largest of the Egyptian and Assyrian sculptural and architectural pieces. Heading to Turkey in a month, I wanted to see the Islamic galleries for some background, but they were closed, so we went upstairs and looked at the galleries of ancient Levant and Mesopotamia - this had some Anatolian material and was also an interesting complement to my recent reading of Israel's History and the History of Israel. We broke our visit with lunch in the Museum restaurant, which is on the posh and expensive side but had excellent food - they were doing West African food specials to go with one of the exhibitions, so I had catfish with couscous crust.
After the Museum we walked south to the Courtauld Gallery, past the Opera House and the theatres, stopping for afternoon tea in a little teahouse. The Courtauld had a special exhibition of Michelangelo's drawings on, which was excellent, but I'd never been there before so the permanent galleries were also great - most prominently modern French and Renaissance Italian paintings, but also Iznik tiles, etc. etc.
That pretty much finished off the day, so we caught a bus to Oxford Circus and walked along Oxford St back to Marble Arch, stopping in John Lewis, Jenny's favourite department store.
I managed to get through the day without buying any books! The only bookshop we visited was the one in the Museum.