A montage of photographs showing participants in The Big Merton 1264 Challenge

The Big Merton 1264 Challenge - Thank You!

We have been thrilled by the response from across the College community to The Big Merton 1264 Challenge. So many students, staff, alumni and others participated in challenges of every shape and size: from bike rides to Beowulf translation, baking to burpees, the enthusiasm and creativity was hugely impressive. Thank you!

We are delighted to list all of the Challenges we know about below, but please do get in touch if we have missed anyone. A selection of participants, representing the sheer breadth of activities undertaken, will be receiving a little token of our appreciation in the post soon.

The 1264 Challenge has also helped to raise vital funds for our two causes: (1) The Merton Hardship Fund, set up specifically to support students, staff, alumni and other members of the College who are facing financial difficulty; and (2) Oxford Mutual Aid, a collective of over a thousand volunteers in Oxford working to help individuals in need.

We are deeply grateful to everyone who made donations. Should you wish to take part, it is still possible to make a gift to Oxford Mutual Aid [donate here] and the Merton Hardship Fund [donate here]. Our Hardship Fund will be vital in the coming months and years, during which we expect the need for support to increase within the College community.

Thank you to everyone who took part and made donations. You have all done terrifically well and we are most grateful.

If you have any questions about the 1264 Challenge or the Merton Hardship Fund, please don’t hesitate to contact the Development Office by email at development@merton.ox.ac.uk or by phone at +44(0)1865 286314.

Bee Print Auction
Nicola Peters with her bee print and honey

Our Emeritus Fellow in English Literature, Professor John Carey FBA, very kindly gave us the chance to auction his wonderful print of a honeybee. And to sweeten the deal, he also provided two jars of honey. All proceeds of the auction supported our two worthy 1264 Challenge causes: the Merton Hardship Fund and Oxford Mutual Aid (OMA).

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the auction was Nicola Peters, mother of first-year Merton student Charlie Peters (2019, Classical Archaeology & Ancient History).

We are enormously grateful to John, Nicola and everyone else who made donations and took part in the 1264 Challenge. The wonderful support we have received will help all those in the Merton community experiencing hardship and will assist OMA’s efforts in supporting vulnerable individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Oxford.

Completed challenges
Date Activity
Saturday 16 The Warden, Professor Irene Tracey & her family ran 12.64 kmThe Warden and members of her family after their 12.64 km run
Saturday 16 Ben Nicholas and members of the College Choir ran 12.64 kmA montage of photographs showing participants in College Choir's run for The Big Merton 1264 Challenge
Saturday 16 Departmental Lecturer in Philosophy Dr Umut Baysan ran 12.64 km
 Dr Umut Baysan's 12.64km run route
Saturday 16 Graduate student Thomas Heywood ran 12.64 km through University Parks
Saturday 16 Emeritus Fellow Dr Michael Dunnill completed 126 sit-ups in 3 hours.
Saturday 16 The Chaplain, Simon Jones walked 12.64 km
Saturday 16 Junior Dean for Welfare Catherine Paverd ran 12.64 kmA montage of photographs showing Catherine Paverd's run as part of The Big Merton 1264 Challenge
Saturday 16 Professor Steven Gunn walked 12.64 times round the College garden while reading a book about Queen Elizabeth IProfessor Steven Gunn walking 12.64 times round the College garden while reading a book about Queen Elizabeth I
Saturday 16 Alumna Virginia Knight (1982) has been building small models out of architects’ blocks during lockdown. Here’s an appropriate contribution:Architect's blocks arranged to make the digits 1264
Saturday 16 Graduate student Toby Adkins, who is the current Men's Captain of the Oxford University Cycling Club, cycled 126.4 km.
 Toby's 126 Challenge
Saturday 16 Challenged by alumna Karen Wilson (1985) to come up with "a piece based on the chord progression I-II-VI-IV", alumnus The Revd Marcus Green (1985) offers "this very simple piano meditation":

Sunday 17 Merton Professor of English Language & Literature Helen Small completed a Charlbury-Chadlington loop, 12.64 km (plus a little extra!)
Sunday 17 JCR President Lucy Buxton walked for 1hr 26m
Sunday 17 Francesca Lovell-Read (MCR) baked a 1264-themed cakeFrancesca Lovell-Read's 1264 Challenge-themed cake
Monday 18 This from alumnus Simon Petherick (1979): "If you look hard, you can see my artfully arranged 1264 on the banks of the Thames today at Barnes in London. Close to where Oxford would have been soaring past Cambridge in the boat race in March had it not been cancelled."
 Simon Petherick on the banks of the Thames
Monday 18 Former Senior Tutor Rachel Buxton participated in the 1264 challenge from the other side of the world (Australia) with 12.64(ish) of paddling:
 Rachel paddle-boarding
Monday 18 Undergraduate Alia Eyres did 264 bounces on the trampoline in one go. "Nearly fell off halfway through (it's a mini exercise trampoline) but wobble-bounced back on for Merton."
Monday 18 Kaiyang Song (JCR) did 126 burpees - watch on Facebook (login required)
Tuesday 19 Undergraduate Rodrigo Marlasca Aparicio completed 1,264 push-ups
 Rodrigo Marlasca Aparicio‎ with a tally of their 1,264 push-ups
Tuesday 19 Graduate student Lachlan Hughes compiled "12.64 Fun Facts about Merton in the Middle Ages from A History of Merton by GH Martin and JRL Highfield"
Wednesday 20

Alumnus Ben Slocock (1982) who has come up with 12 mathematical identities using the digits 1 2 6 and 4 just once each:

1 x 2 = 6 – 4
2 ÷ 1 = 6 – 4
21 = 6 - 4
6 – 2 = 4 x 1
6 – 2 = 4 ÷ 1
6 – 2 = 4¹
4 + 2 = 6 x 1
4 + 2 = 6 ÷ 1
4 + 2 = 6¹
16 = 2⁴
16 = 4²
(4 + 1 – 2)! = 6

and, more Countdown style, some results using those digits only to reach 1264:

1264 = 16 x (2⁴(4 +1 ) – 1)

1264 = 2⁶ (6 + 4) - 2⁴

1264 = (2 x 6!) – (2⁴ x (1 + 4 + 6))

Ben says: "I’m sure current mathematicians can find some more interesting ones" - any takers?

Wednesday 20 Arundhati Wuppalapati's planned 12.6 mile-run turned into a 126.4 km turbo bike ride! Arundhati says, "I'm feeling a bit tired now, I might have a 12.64 hour nap ..."Arundhati Wuppalapati at the completion of her 126.4 km turbo bike ride
Wednesday 20 Clara Lepard (MCR) completed 126.4 push-ups in 12 hours.

Thursday 21 Fede (JCR) completed 126 rugby passes
Thursday 21 Kate Stanton (MCR) created "A Year at Merton in 12.64 Photos"A montage of photos showing a year at Merton College

To find out what they show follow The Big Merton 1264 Challenge on Facebook or see our Twitter feed

Friday 22 Graduate student Dalia Gala completed 1,264 squats:

Friday 22 Christopher Rogers (1962) set out to walk 12.64 miles of the Ridgeway, from Overton Hill via Hackpen Hill, Barbury Castle and Four Mile Clump to Marlborough (actually rather more than 12.64 miles.) He also sang 126.4 scales in the key of D Major. He says: "Friday was a lovely day, I did my 12.64 miles and decided to add a further 'half Merton' so the whole day was 18.96 miles."(L-R) Christopher Rogers out walking, with a 1264 banner; Christopher's phone showing the distance he completed; Christopher resting post-run
Friday 22 Alumnus John Borgars (1964) writes: "This is a photo of Ermine Street at 12 minutes to 6 (or as near as I could manage) on Sunday morning, taken while walking 12.64 miles (I have been instructed to eschew running pro tem lest I tear a muscle again)."


Ermine Street
Friday 22

Undergraduate Phoebe Mountain went for a 12.6 km-run.

Phoebe after her run
Friday 22 MCR President Lucas Didrik-Haugeberg – "A Tour of Kristiansand in 12 Photos"
Friday 22 The College Choir’s 1264 playlist (126 songs) was released on Spotify to celebrate the release of sleeper’s prayer
Friday 22 Alumnus Michael Ridpath (1979) is an author best known for his financial and crime thrillers, and for the #1264challenge he created A Merton Crime Story in 1,264 words: You can download Michael's tale from https://bit.ly/MertonCrimeStory1264 - he rather modestly suggested that we mention that "it's only 4 pages long" - and read more about his work at www.michaelridpath.com
Saturday 23 Professor Alex Scott completed the final leg of a 126.4 km indoor cycle ride - he also fitted in 1264 m of climbing:Alex Scott completing his 126.4 km indoor bike ride

Saturday 23

Undergraduate Mairi Franklin baked 12 cupcakes. She says: "My dad helped by eating 36% of the 13th cupcake." Don't they look delicious?
Mairi's Cupcakes
Saturday 23 Cycling Challenge: together members of Merton College Boat Club cycled a grand total of 1,264km from around the globe
 The route of Gian Piero Milani's 50km cycle in the Cotswolds, part of the 1264km cycled by Merton College Boat Club for the #1264Challenge
Sunday 24 Charles Tolkien-Gillett (MCR) – "a new translation and reading from Beowulf (my favourite 126.4 lines)"
Sunday 24 First-year Ancient and Modern History undergraduate Luke Bateman sent us this charming short story, The Candle's Adventure, about how the college’s buildings and grounds are coping with the pandemic; it's exactly 1,264 words long, which Luke says required some very judicious editing to manage.
Saturday 23/Sunday 24 Senior Tutor Dr Jane Gover created this 3D watercolour of the College:A 3D watercolour of Merton College, made by Dr Jane Gover
Monday 25 Silvia Trinczek (MCR) sent us "126.4 Flowers from Kaufering" - she picked 126 flowers in the meadows of her home town and her mother's garden:Silvia in a meadow in Kaufering
A meadow in Kaufering
Flowers from Kaufering
Flowers from Kaufering
Silvia with her flowers
Monday 25 Alumnus Paul White (1995) went for a 12.64km run around Sydney harbour:
 Paul White's run route
Monday 25 Graduate student Carmen Jorge Díaz cycled 12.64 miles.
 Carmen Jorge Díaz's 12.64-mile cycling route
Monday 25 Alumna Yulia Savikovskaya (2006) sorted out "1,264 little calendars of my collection and started with Soviet cartoons-themed ones. Some of them are iridescent with high value among collectors. I started it when I was 7"
Monday 25 Web & Media Officer Simon Cope spent the weekend creating this Spotify playlist: "It all adds up..."
Monday 25 Jessica Rawson Fellow in Modern Asian History Dr Jennifer Altehenger made pancakes:#1264challenge-themed pancakes made by Dr Jennifer Altehenger
Monday 25 Graduate student Jessica Phillips baked some shortbread cookies on the 1264 theme:Jessica Phillips' 1264-themed shortbread cookies
Monday 25 Alumnus Marcus Scott (1978) completed a 1264 Triathlon - 1 mile swim, 26 mile bike rounded off with a 4 mile run/walk! And a whopping 85 ft of elevation gain in the 26 miles on the roads!

 Marcus Scott's Triathlon statsMarcus Scott's Triathlon statsMarcus Scott
Monday 25 Alumnus Nigel Middlemiss (1967) sent us this story in 1,264 characters, about a hare depicted on an ancient wall tile in the Upper Library, and written "for my granddaughters Beatrix, 6, and Evie, 5, with love."

It was a May morning. The young girl was sitting in the Library with her tablet. She had to write a story, about: “Merton quadrangles and sustainability”. But what did THAT mean? She had no idea.
Suddenly her eyes fell on a picture of a little hare on the wall. It had been put there hundreds of years ago. The hare was in a field full of flowers. “What should I write?” the girl murmured. The hare, to her amazement, suddenly hopped off the wall. “Follow me”, it said. Off it went, past the old bookcases, down the stairs.
Out it shot across a field & into another field, called Stubbins Quad. “This field has no meadow flowers any more” said the hare. “Just grass. When I was young, clover, red and white, celandines, ladies’ fingers, buttercups, harebells, daisies with pink edges to their petals, cowslips, grew here”.
“And something else: look up at those mullioned windows. In that room in Stubbins Quad, on summer days, Nigel & Prisca read poems out loud & made hitch-hiking plans; long ago, that was”.
“Mmm”, mused the girl, slowly. “You know, we could, at least, bring back the flowers”. Come with me, little hare, back to the Library. I know now what I’ll write”.
And so it was. The hare hopped back onto the wall tile. And the girl sat & wrote.

Tuesday 26 Paul Zimmer-Harwood (MCR) completed the ‘Mertonman Challenge’: 12.64 km swimming, 126.4 km cycling, 12.64 miles running and 12.64 km rowing in 12.64 hours of total time! He says, "I am thankful for the luxury to do things like this and I am also quite proud - and even more tired'!Paul Zimmer-Harwood at the end of his 'Mertonman Challenge'
Tuesday 26 Tutor in Spanish Dr Alice Brooke organised a relay - she and 15 other SCR members pledged to run, walk and cycle, and today they collectively made it to 1,264km ... and beyond!

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, Alice tells us, "Collectively, the SCR has sped into the 17th century, with a cumulative total of 1,624km."
 A table showing the surnames of SCR members and the distances they covered undertaking various activities as part of the 1264 ChallengeAlice Brooke in her running kitRadek Erban having completed the final leg of his 126.4 km run (running spread over 12 days!)
Tuesday 26 Alumna Amanda Thomas (2012) writes: "I have been enjoying following the 1264 challenge so thought I would have a go. I completed 12.64 km on the rowing machine with an average split (time per 500m) of 2.14.6, just under an hour in total."
 Montage of images of Amanda Thomas and her rowing machine
Tuesday 26 Alumna Jo Woods (1985) completed 160 km running - "which is c.12.64 x 12.64 - slightly ahead of time as I couldn't face another days running!"Jo Woods at the end of her 1264 challenge
Wednesday 27 Physics DPhil student Philipp Windischhofer has come up with this autogramic pangram, (a sentence that describes its own composition):

“This pangram for Merton contains one b, two c's, six f's, four a's, one d, thirty-one e's, three g's, eight h's, ten i's, one j, one k, one l, three m's, twenty n's, sixteen o's, two p's, one q, ten r's, twenty-five s's, twenty-three t's, two u's, five v's, seven w's, three x's, five y's & one z.”

"I am very fond of self-referential systems" says Philipp, adding, "On top, I arranged the order of the first four letters to read “1264”!"
Wednesday 27 Antonia Anstatt (MCR) completed a 1,200 piece 4-D puzzle in 64 photos:
Wednesday 27 For his challenge, Emeritus Fellow Professor David Norbrook "tried the sortes Hutchinsonianae, reading her poem Order and Disorder down to Canto 12 line 64, which turns out to be 'Four hundred years of bondage shall expire'. It is not clear exactly how this applies to Merton College, but surely it must be good news!"David Norbrook
Wednesday 27 Resource Description Project Librarian Cathy Lewis and family completed their challenge to pass a football to one another 1,264 times - they did it in three stages, as documented by her daughter:
 Cathy's daughter's diary (completed by mum!)The football in the air
Wednesday 27 Alumna Sarah Stacey (1994) tells us she has cycled 126.4km around the fabulous Oxfordshire countryside this week, "...or will have by the time I've cycled to the next village for beer supplies."(L-R) bluebells; Sarah Stacey's bicycle
Wednesday 27 Welfare Adviser Jenny Barrett ran 12.64 km
 Jenny Barrett at the end of her 12.64 km run
Wednesday 27 Undergraduate Alex Beukers "decided to draw 12 Mertonians, and finished it just about in time! It's been great to read up a bit about all the amazing people that have come out of our college, as well as a lovely way to procrastinate... who do you recognise?"
 Hand-drawn illustrations of 12 Mertonians, by Alex Beukers
Wednesday 27 The Chapel team came up with these cocktail recipes - Enjoy The 1264 Responsibly!

 Part #1 of the cocktail recipesPart #2 of the cocktail recipesPart #3 of the cocktail recipesPart #4 of the cocktail recipes
by Thursday 28 Fellow Librarian Dr Julia Walworth shared images from manuscripts whose signature numbers added up to an appropriate number: 317+271+259+249+124+44=1264!
by Thursday 28

Alumnus Jonathan Tot (2017) began making a calculation of all possible computations on 4 inputs: 1, 2, 6 and 4.

UPDATE - 18 August:

"Needless to say, this is heavily belated, but I have finally concluded a small mathematical investigation, which I undertook at the impetus of the 1264 Challenge.  While others were variously running, walking, or generally keeping active (any of which would have done me some good, to be sure) - rather, the thought which occurred to me was: What would all the computations on the digits {1,2,6,4} be?  How many different calculations are there?

While perhaps not completely exhausted, I have obtained some answers to these questions, among others, and I am comfortable now to share the conclusions.  Obviously, this project has involved a little bit of coding, which I have completed in the computer algrebra system (CAS) Wolfram Mathematica.  What I have been able to prepare, in order to share this inquiry, is a document in PDF format that describes the structures used to answer such questions. During this, I have learned that a Mathematica Notebook is a very effective format to present textual explanation in and around the code, in a very readable format.  I hope what I have written will be accessible to a fairly general audience.  Available as well, for the more mathematically inclined (those who have access to Mathematica, in particular), is the notebook file itself, so you may extract or modify the code, should you so desire.

I hope you enjoy!"

by Thursday 28 Yvette Siegert (MCR) was "slowly creating a poem made up entirely of found text from a translation of Book IV of St Thomas Aquinas's Summa Contra Gentiles, a section that he most likely completed in 1264. Aiming for an estimated syllabic count around 1,264, but please don't expect any miracles on that front."
by Thursday 28 Alumnus David Clark (1984) was trying to get the Merton College Biomedical and Life Sciences network to increase their membership from 97 to 126; "If we succeed, I’ll donate £126 to the appeal and encourage others to give what they can too."
by Thursday 28 Stipendiary Lecturer Dr James Pickering ran 126.4km - "Dedicated to all the undergraduate physical chemists who are struggling to interpret their rotational Raman spectra in lockdown"
 James Pickering, together with a record of his runs, totalling 126.4 km
by Thursday 28

Alumnus Keith Burton (1962), "one of those nerdy stamp collectors", challenged himself to sort out 1,264 of the large number of postage stamps he has "in unsorted piles, boxes and books ... so that I know what they are and where they are."

UPDATE: Keith (on the late shift) reports that he has sorted his 1,264 stamps, finishing at 00:42 on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 May. "Sadly there were many duplicates so there is the question of whether or not they should count. This judge says “Yes” but now suggests that he tries for 1,264 different stamps – 770 so far. 594 more 'new' ones before Thursday seems unlikely. Got a couple of crosswords to do, and the garden calls as well in bright 🌞 - best wishes to all you athletic types – as a mathematician (of sorts) counting is more my game."

by Thursday 28 The Revd Monsignor Bruce Harbert (1966) read 1264 psalms from The Book of Psalms and prayed for the College. 
Daily Emeritus Fellow Christine Taylor did a plank for 1.264 minutes each day.
 Emeritus Fellow Christine Taylor doing a plank
Daily Tim Phillips (1960) had a new knee fitted on 10 March; he walked 1,264 yards twice daily "to try and get it going".
Thursday 28 Bake-Off: members of Merton College Boat Club produced baked good which added up to 126,400 kJ (~30,000 kcal)
by Thursday 28 Alumnus and Bodley Fellow Richard Allan (1959) walked 1,264 circuits (200 steps per circuit) of his Islington garden. Richard writes:

"For what it is worth, the garden circuit is 200 steps, involving a figure of eight. This comprises starting at the side door (in a tunnel between the house and garage), circuiting the concreted front driveway, returning through the tunnel, circuiting the back garden on the grass (including a mini-circuit of the back patio and greenhouse), and returning to the tunnel. Since Easter Day, I have taken off Sundays (6) Bank Holidays (3) and days out walking in Epping Forest and Trent Park (3), but have otherwise done my 40 circuits a day. All very repetitive, but the weather has been fantastic, and I have loved watching spring turn to summer in the garden, listening to (and admiring) all the bird life, and revelling in the peace of lock-down. Diana and I are supremely lucky."
 Richard Allan (1959)
by Thursday 28 Alumna Phoebe Pexton (2015) ran 126.4km in 10 days:Phoebe Pexton
by Thursday 28 Alumnus Mark Davison (1978) cycled 1,264km 
Thursday 28 Graduate student Ben Schneider completed completed a 126.4 miles hiking and running in 12 days:
 A table showing Ben's mileage over the 12 days
Thursday 28 Junior Research Fellow in Mathematics Dr Lukas Brantner verified (by hand!) that 1264 is the sum of the first 27 primes!
 Lukas Brantner's hand-drawn proof that 1,264 is the sum of the first 27 primes
Thursday 28 The Warden, Professor Irene Tracey, and her husband Professor Myles Allen completed a 126.4 km cycle ride:
 A montage of photos from the 126.4 km cycle ride
Thursday 28 Alumna Jamie Lynne Boutilier (2013) "completed two 1264 challenges: I climbed 12,640 feet to just above Hope Pass, the highest point of the Leadville 100-mile race on 18 May; on 28 May I celebrated my dogs’ birthday. One is named Merton, and the other one turned 12. We celebrated with 6.4 miles of hiking."
 Hope Pass, Colorado
Thursday 28 Alumna Steffi Arzt (1991) managed to row 12.64 miles on a rowing machine - "unfortunately we are not allowed on the river yet. Courage Merton and I hope to be back soon for the Gaudy. Best wishes to all of you. Steffi, France"
 Steffi Arzt (1991)
Thursday 28 Academic Registrar Katy Fifield has done 126 minutes on the turbo trainer (indoor bike) this morning. "I passed the time with two Ockham lectures which has increased my knowledge of physics by *at least* 126%"
 Katy on the turbo trainer
Thursday 28 12 Mertonians have pledged to reduce the amount of animal product in their diets for 64 days. In addition, they are putting together a shared recipe collection with 126 plant-based recipes in 4 categories. This part is still a work in progress, and anyone can participate by adding them to the shared document.
 Montage showing some of the 12 Mertonians
Thursday 28 Alumnus Martin Wainwright (1968) sent this cryptic message: "Mildly curious about the fate of my surreptitious #1264Challenge If you can solve its various riddles, I will buy you a pint when allowed to do so safely.""Greetings from Malden College"The cryptic message...Posting the letter

The following day he followed up with this:

"Although I put it down to the enervating weather, my wife suggests that the modest response to my #1264Challenge riddles is due to my obscure reasoning following an Oxford education, compounded by the sense of unreality common among those of us who matriculated in 1968.

"For instance," she said, "you haven't given them any clues." I replied that they were at Merton and wouldn't need clues. She said: "Well, you haven't given them any questions either."

Perhaps that was an oversight and if so, I will now put it right with quite an easy one to start with and the others getting more difficult:

  • Geography: why Malden?
  • History: Fill in the missing word: 'The club is typically ......... in that its members are usually vague and misinformed about its history.'
  • PPE: Why might the Government have been advised to seek advice from New Malden at an earlier stage of the pandemic?
  • Art: Who is the soap advertiser and for whom and what is his connection with this?
  • English Literature: How has Ophelia changed and which quatrain of WH Auden's might apply (given a change of gender)?
  • Mathematics: which inspired member of the SCR might possibly, indeed probably, have designed the curving platform roofs of New Malden railway station?
  • And finally Medicine: what do the Warden of Merton and the Principal of Malden have in common?

Good luck! And the offer of a pint stands"

Friday 29 Undergraduate Rodrigo Marlasca Aparicio (who, let's remember, has already done 1,264 push-ups) has made a replica of the Radcliffe Camera - using 1.2kg of fondant and 6 layers of chocolate sponge, and taking 4 days to do so. They say, "The main base is four layers of chocolate sponge, with buttercream frosting between the layers and covering the whole thing. The dome is also made of chocolate sponge and buttercream frosting, but I had to get more creative to get that shape because I do not happen to own a dome-shaped cake tin. It is all covered in fondant and some of the detail has been painted with food colouring. Not sure how I will get through this much cake!"
 The Radcliffe Camera in cake form
Friday 29 Alumnus Christian Jorgensen (2007) did a walk of 12.64 km (7.85 miles) around Baltimore, Maryland.
 Christian JorgensenBaltimore, Maryland
Friday 29 Not content with baking that rather excellent cake (complete with icing sugar Walter de Merton!) the MCR's Francesca Lovell-Read "decided to do an extra 1264 challenge: my sister (an alumna) and I made 1,264 words out of the letters in the college motto (qui timet deum faciet bona). It took us quite a long time but we got there in the end! Fortunately there are quite a lot of vowels which helped..."

Friday 29 Undergraduate Anna McQueen "did a 12.64km walk with my father, and made some new friends along the way!"
 Anna and fatherCows
Saturday 30 Alumna Hannah Polonsky (2010) and her daughter Lucy (nearly two) built a DUPLO® model (made with exactly 12+64 pieces!) of them sitting at the stone table in the Merton College gardens with their mother/grandmother (and alumna) Rachel Polonsky (DPhil, 1989-94).
 Hannah & Lucy's DUPLO® model
Saturday 30 Alumna Gabrielle Higgins (1996) "took advantage of croquet being one of the first 8 sports to resume after lockdown to do a 126.4 hoop 4-ball break. It took me 2 hours 46 minutes. Sadly the distance wasn’t so obliging. Pictured is the 0.4: the striker’s ball is jawsed in the hoop called ONE back, and the TWO balls in the background are crosswired from each other, which aficionados will recognise as one of the standard leaves to set up a SEXtuple peel for the FOURth ball. £1.26 a hoop for the Merton Hardship Fund anyone?"
 Croquet balls
Sunday 31 Another offering from graduate student Antonia Anstatt - a virtual treasure hunt!
Sunday 31 Alumna, Honorary Fellow and President of the Merton Society Dame Philippa Whipple (1984) and family completed 12 x 64-ball table tennis rallies (in the wind!)
 The Whipples, having completed their challenge
Monday 1 June Alumna Susanna Curtis (1982) performed 1264 movements as one continuous dance sequence. "This did turn out to be quite a challenge, when I went into the studio this morning ... about half way through I thought I was running out of juice, but the adrenalin kicked in and I made it."

Monday 1 June Undergraduate Mairi Franklin answered the question we've all asked ourselves from time to time: how long would 1,264 crochet stitches be? 9.4 metres, apparently...

Monday 1 June Alumnus Ron Tamplin (1955) offers us this poem:


1-2-can knock a 6 or 4 no more
And seldom could at any time before,
But now I’ve raised in years 4-score and 5,
Grateful and very glad to be alive,
Locked down it’s true, not up, but still not out.
Into the garden then, a gadabout.
This year, first heavy rains, now so much sun,
And the whole thing’s a wreck, it’s overrun!
In perspiring dream, chopping back the briars,
See Merton’s garden, Oxford’s dreaming spires,
The mulberry tree, the solace of wisteria.
I cut and sweep, the only bloom, hysteria,
Then, between video lunch and virtual tea,
Write a cheque  for 126-44p.
Monday 1 June ...and finally: alumnus Cristian Gazdac (1998) spotted this: "in order to vote for the Românii au talent (Romania's Got Talent) winner this weekend you had to send an SMS to ...1264!"
 A screenshot showing the number to send an SMS to in order to vote for the Românii au talent (Romania's Got Talent) winner