Oxford is famous as being the home of the most prestigious of universities in England which was established in the 12th Century. Chris had previously visited Oxford however this was one UK city I had only ever driven past.
We recently enjoyed a weekend in this historic part of middle England with an afternoon exploring Oxford city centre followed by a high speed activity for Chris!
As a busy city, rather than driving into the city centre we decided it might be easier to drive to one of the Park & Rides. There are a number which surround the city and we simply drove to one called Thornhill, parked the car (for £2) and purchased 2 x return bus tickets (£5.80 for both). This was all straightforward, we didn’t have to wait for long and there were enough seats on the bus for everyone. The bus journey took about 20 minutes.
We didn’t have anything too specific so we decided to wander around the historic buildings, take in the ambiance and steer clear of the shops!
As we walked along St Aldates we came across Christ Church which is one of Oxford’s colleges and famous for its collection of Old Master paintings. We didn’t go in however it is pleasant to walk through the grounds and war memorial garden outside. Wikipedia explains this college was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII.
Construction of the Meadow Building began in 1862 and overlooks the historic meadow where you can follow the paths and have a pleasant walk.
We were fortunate to have had good weather throughout the afternoon and thankfully it didn’t rain, although as you can see from the photo above, the sky had darkened and we thought we were in for a soaking at one point, just as we were walking through the meadow walk.
Opposite the Botanical Gardens is Magdalen College which was founded in 1458 and is currently is a leading independent day school for boys 7 – 18 and girls in the Sixth Form.
A punt is a long boat and is moved along by a punter pushing a pole along the river bed, which I guess is similar to the way gondolas are steered along in Venice. The above photo was taken from Magdalen Bridge and from here it is possible to hire a punt if you wish to give it a try!
Similar to most cities, Oxford is no exception and has an abundance of cafes, bars and restaurants catering for all tastes and budgets. We enjoyed a lunch in the Tree Artisan Cafe which is a fairly small place but has sustainable locally sourced ethical products including tasty vegan snacks.
Laird Hatters is a hat shop with outlets in London, Cambridge and Oxford. The Oxford shop is located in Cornmarket Street and it is believed the building dates back to the 15th century.
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. There isn’t just one library – there is a total of 28 separate libraries which offer students from the University of Oxford and across the world access to extensive research materials.
You can visit the Old Bodleian Library for a cost of £9 per adult. If you participate in one of the tours you will learn about the 400 year history.
Another historic building is the Turf Tavern which dates back to 1381 and is understood to be the oldest pub in Oxford. The inside with it’s low beams and traditional bar was busy however we enjoyed sitting outside in one of several courtyard gardens.
Having already had lunch we just stayed for a drink and learned from displays outside that this was the pub where former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a Guiness World Record for consuming a yard of ale in 11 seconds in 1954! Many other famous persons have also visited the pub including the likes of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Entry is free to this museum so we decided to have a wander around. Most fascinating was the collection of globes! Some of the globes date back to 1740 and we were pondering how it would have been possible back then, without the aerial view provided by planes to have been able to produce them with such accuracy…
We found the bus stop back to Thornhill Park & Ride for our 20 minute return journey. Once we returned to our car we drove to Faringdon, a small market town about 18 miles south west from Oxford and checked into the Sudbury House hotel for the night.
And a well-deserved shout out to the Sudbury House where we had the most comfortable bed and one of the most delicious meals of 2022! So well worth a stay if you are in the area.
Need for Speed!
Following a leisurely breakfast, the following Sunday morning we drove to Abingdon Airfield where Chris was participating in a 3 super car driving experience!
Chris was fortunate to receive this as a present and had an excellent time doing laps in each of these 3 super cars. This was organised by a company called Car Chase Heroes and they operate such experiences via the major vendors such as Buy A Gift, Virgin Experiences etc.
We had one more treat for the afternoon! Following Chris’s super car experience we drove the short distance to the centre of Abingdon where we had booked Sunday Lunch in the Brewery Tap. We parked in the long stay car park which is located near the Nags Head pub and walked the half mile or so to enjoy a delicious lunch.