It’s finally here, the end of our time in Oxford, at least this time round. In a few days we’ll
be packing up our house, putting it in storage and starting our Life on the Orpen Road.
Packing the house always takes longer than planned, the nostalgia and memories of everything going into the boxes, the discovery of items lost, and the realisation that this move is really (and finally) happening. And moving comes with the leaving a city I’ve called home for nearly five years, a city I didn’t know before and a city I will miss.
Oxford may feel like it hasn’t changed in decades, and parts of the Uni haven’t, but a short walk around will show the perpetual building and renovation. The new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter has both renovated the old Radcliffe infirmary building to what I’m sure is better than its former glory, and along side it new building have sprung up, the new maths institute and the new Jericho health centre, these have both transformed the area. When we moved into Jericho they had demolished the old unwanted hospital buildings, leaving unsightly building screens, these have come down revealing, maybe not a butterfly but certainly well designed modern buildings.
One of the many joys and jewels of Oxford are the parks, most notably for me are the Uni Parks and Port Meadow. The Uni Parks are frequented by runners, dog walkers and anyone wanting a place to escape, we’ve even played tennis on the grass courts. Port Meadow is a wonderful and natural water meadow, frequented by runners, dog walkers and animals. Many a visit is dominated by avoiding the cows, Shetland ponies, geese and all their … They are real highlights.
In Jericho we are spoilt, spoilt for convenience of great food. At one end of the road we have Gluttons, Oxford equivalent of Partridges, providing us with the best sausage rolls and wonderful mature sour-dough. At the other is East West Provisions topping up our milk supply. But it’s not just shops but also great places to eat, we seem to be regulars at Manos, our favourite Greek café serving up a standard moussaka and salad, and also our local pub, the Rickety Press, Arkell’s gastropub serving the Rickety Burger, and occasionally Sandy Lane Lamb pie, both exceptional meals. A slightly further walk from home (5 minutes, as opposed to 2) is the famous Oxford institution, G&D’s, selling real ice cream with the most original, and true flavours, the coffee tastes like black coffee.
With our packing done and our life in an 8×10 container, we were left to clean our rental house, and unable to cook anything we revisited some of our favourite places to eat and some we’d been meaning to go to for three years. The highlights of this included the Big Bang Restaurant, an Oxford establishment, sourcing all their ingredients within 20 miles of the restaurant and serving only sausages with mash and gravy. The restaurant used to be in Jericho until a couple of years ago it was forced to close due to the building it was in being completely changed by its college owner, taking with it three other independent shops and restaurants. Anyway, we missed it in that location, but a few months ago it reopened in the Oxford Castle area, in an old Carluccios restaurant shell, and with only a few changed to the decoration it’s now selling excellent English sausages. Another recent discovery was OxFork. This originally started as a popup restaurant, but now has a fixed location, serving local, wholesome brunch all day, quirky and local would be my review of it. And for our final night in Oxford we returned to the “little sister” of the Rickety Press in Cowley, the Rusty Bicycle. Serving much of the same as the Rickety Press’s standard pub meals, but at four or five pounds cheaper, it has a more locals pub feel, and a less pretentious atmosphere. The burgers are juicy and delicious, and even the vegetarian burger of mushroom, pesto, haloumi cheese and courgette is memorable. But the true highlight of this highlight was their pudding selection, specifically the ice cream. With nine flavours to chose from, we tried 5 of them, and whittling this down to our favourite two we were left with ginger ice cream (better than any G&D’s ice cream we’d ever had) and blood orange sorbet, a flavour not often seen but I think one of the greatest sorbets.
Oxford has many places to eat, many of our favourites are slightly away from the tourist routes through the city but in our opinion, some of these establishments are worth being the main reason for visiting what is already a very worthwhile city to visit and live in.