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Oxford - In a world of its own
Oxford in General
Member Name: clumsy1974
Oxford in General
Date: 09/04/01, updated on 09/04/01 (205 review reads)
Advantages: Pretty town with huge amounts of history
Disadvantages: Bit sleepy for such a big place.
We came to Oxford in September 1999. It was a big step for us, as we were moving in together, my girlfriend was starting Uni. I was starting a new job. We had visited Oxford on several occasions for day trips and fact-finding expeditions, but you really need to live there to get the true view of the place.
Oxford is really a town within a city. The town centre with its spires and domes sits in the middle of a collection of communities with their own facilities and people. It really is an unusual place to live. However, it is not all that bad, and it has got some good points as well as a few niggling ones.
The town centre can look spectacular in the sunshine of a spring day. The limestone of the colleges really stands out well on a bright morning. The layout of the city is quite uncaring of motorists, and this adds something to its charm, with cyclists and pedestrians (mainly tourists in the warmer months) milling about on the mostly flag stoned streets.
The town is steeped in history, and there is plenty to draw the eye. If you visit in term time you will often catch the rowing teams on the river Thames. This was quite an amusing sight to us on our first walk down the riverbank. The teams are quite competitive and get serious barracking from their coaches on the bank. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of some of the comments! Further north, coming out of the centre you will find the famous Magdalene Bridge, crossing the Cherwell. This offers a beautiful view out across the botanical gardens and the countryside.
As you come into Oxford, along wither the Cowley or Abingdon roads, or through Botley you will pass through the student occupied part of the town. This is where Oxford starts to look a bit down at heel, and on a rainy day it can be quite depressing.
Oxford's main draw is the colleges. These are mostly all open to visitors during the day (we still
haven’t visited any of the traditional colleges - my girlfriend studies at Oxford Brookes) The look quite impressive, and do get busy in the tourist season.
The shopping area is a bit sparse and does lack a great variety of shops. For shopping we travel home to Milton Keynes!
The rivers offer good facilities for boating during the summer, and there are large Punt hiring businesses near on the Folley Bridge (Thames) & Magdalene Bridge (Cherwell). There are some great pubs to quench your thirst in - Try the Turf Tavern (Which allows you to walk the back streets of the town) of the Head of The River if you want to watch the boats go by.
Keep your eye out if you visit at exam time. The students are required to wear academic dress to all formal exams, and the make quite a sight in their gowns and mortarboards (I was glad to send my back after graduation - so I do feel sorry for them)
If you are thinking of moving here and are looking for more everyday attractions there is still quite a bit to do. Oxford has several good leisure facilities, with swimming pools (outdoor and indoor) an Ice rink and various leisure centers. There is a huge amount of parkland to wander around and the links to surrounding towns are excellent. We still haven’t explored the whole area yet, but a walk to Summertown and Jerico is well worth it. A visit to the Ashmolean Museum is free, and quite interesting. You will be able to find a fair bit to do if you look hard enough!
Oxford has a huge number of bed and breakfast hotels. The Abingdon Road is dotted with them from the ring road to the Folley Bridge. There are also a few more formal hotels such as the Four Pillars (also on the Abingdon Road)
Should you be looking for a more permanent base you should expect to pay around £250 per month for a room in a shared house, and anything from £500 per month for a house or flat. Oxford has a lot of student accomm
odation, understandably. You might find family or professional style properties a bit thin on the ground.
As I said, Oxford hates cars! The centre is a no go area from 7.30am to 6.30pm every day. Use the excellent Park and Ride facilities if you want to get into the town centre. The last time I used one of these parking cost 50p for the whole day and a return ticket into town was £1. Oxford really know how to run a bus service, with the average fair cost 55p and a bus - on time - every 15 minutes or so during the day.
The railway station is close to the town centre, at the top of Park End Street, and runs GW, Virgin and Thames link services. A return to London is around £16. Trains seem a bit rare, so if you are heading into the capital try the Oxford tube. You can catch this from Gloucester Green bus station. A return ticket will set you back about £6.
Here is where Oxford lets itself down. There are a few screens in the local Odeon's (Oxford has 2 of them) and the Phoenix Picture hose is great for the more unusual movies. There are some great places to eat - The Opium Den is well worth a look - and some really character rich pubs. But that’s where it all seems to tail off.
There are a couple of nightclubs, but these are not really up to much. The Coven attracts some good DJ's so is worth trying. You might get to catch a few good bands at the Zodiac, and it’s quite a friendly place. Park End is not my thing at all really. It is your typical townie type of haunt, and I just don’t bother with it anymore. My favourite nightspot is PoNaNa's, but it attracts quite a queue on Saturday night.
Oxfords real problem is that it closes down at 11 O'clock. The shops all shut at 6pm and then the bars kick out and the town goes to sleep. There are a few places where you can stay till 1 or 2am at the weekend (Yate's Wine Lodge, Que Pasa, Chicago's, PoN
aNa's DTM's & of course Park End) but Oxford is a big town, with lots of young people and they fill up to the rafters quite fast. Coming from Milton Kenynes I find this all a bit disappointing, but as I said, Oxford really is in a world of its own.
Give it a go -
So the end of this rather rambling op.
Oxford makes a nice day trip destination. It is a bit of an odd place to live, but it does grow on you. If you are coming here to study or work try to root out the good bits. There is plenty to enjoy here; you just have to look really hard for it!