..places in Oxford
1. The Rad Cam – since I no longer have to spend my daylight hours immersed in those cavernous chambers of academic terror and finals-induced study hell, I can now appreciate it for the bastion of architectual splendour that it indisputably is, and it makes a suitably dramatic meeting place, even if you do only end up popping round the corner for a shandy in the Turf.
2. Oxfam Book Shop, St Giles – The most amazing second-hand bookshop I’ve ever been (sick) in (front of). Stocked practically as well as Blackwell’s if you’re after fiction or criticism, since it’s the place students with a conscience or a healthy disregard for money choose to offload their books after finishing uni. Carries an impressive selection of literal and proverbial fruitcake of the distinctive Oxford variety.
3. The view from my window – which looks like this:
4. Starbucks in Borders – Many happy memories of sipping various pretentious concoctions whilst eavesdropping on conversations and freeloading reads of sometimes entire books. Plus they serve marmite and cheese toasties. Its corporate sins are forgiven.
5. East Oxford Community Centre – the home of Catweazle, Oxford’s saving grace for fans of ramshackle alt-folkers and beardy bedroom balladeurs, waif-like acoustic sirens, all things endearingly amateur, and ukeleles. Such is my love for Catweazle that I’m listing the EOCC as a favourite spot despite the baffling (and odourous) session of Tai Chi I endured there once, and the cult-like yoga class I went to, which involved concentrating on a photograph of an old lady and knotting air.
6. The Jam Factory – Ubercool (by Oxford standards) experimental-art-space-slash-wine-bar. Not only does this place support local artists, it lets community groups meet up without even having to buy a drink. There are at least 2 knitting circles and a writers’ group that congregate there, as well as a poetry night. It’s really light and airy and has newspapers, board games, and cushions. It’s just at the top of the road from the house I used to live in, and was better than the actual house in all respects bar the fact that I couldn’t sleep there.
7. Shotover Hill – Admittedly I’ve only been there once, on a gloriously hot August day, for a picnic with about 15 people, but it was glorious in the extreme to be in a cornfield on a hill high above Oxford with the sun beating down, and music being played, and kids running around, with the spires poking out from the general haze below. Made me feel like I was back in France, except people were wearing more clothes and noone was generally trying to pass off ham as a vegetable.
8. Jude the Obscure – a satisfyingly ‘atmospheric’ pub, full of good memories and happy meetings. Not great on the ale though. My favourite pub in Oxford for that is ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ – truly amazing beer. Unfortunately the pub itself has the aesthetic of a sixth-form college canteen in a pirate ship.
9. The Wine Café – an absolute gem of a place I only recently discovered. Tastefully decorated, and stocked with fine, fine wine (which seems finer to a palette that has been all but stripped to the frenum by 5 years of LGBsoc plonk). There’s even a cosy little date cabin at the back, which has the ambiance of a sort of posh caravan.
10. Burton Taylor Studio – where I’ve seen some brilliant shows in my time and nary a duffer. There’s room for about twenty people in the audience, which makes you feel like you’re being let in on a dark, funny, well-acted secret.